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Just Because Dogs Have Coats Doesn’t Mean They Can Handle Extreme Cold

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The weather has been frigid to say the least, and it’s about to get worse.

But the concern over the cold isn’t just about us, it’s about man’s best friend.

A Minnetonka pet rescue says they’ve seen a half dozen cases of dogs being left out in the cold lately. In some cases, the animals were left overnight.

“The phone is ringing off the hook. We are getting a lot of stories of dogs being left outside. Or cats, in some cases,” said Rachel Mairose, the director of Secondhand Hounds.

One of those stories involves a 4-month-old pit bull pup named Norah.

She was found tied to a bench at a bus stop at 3 a.m. on New Year’s Eve. The temperature was 14 below zero that night, and a Good Samaritan brought her to Secondhand Hounds in Minnetonka, after he realized she had been abandoned.

“Nobody came, ” Mairose said. “The puppy was just shivering, hunched over, you know. [She] also has mange, which is hair loss.”

The extreme cold is a concern for all dogs, but especially short hair breeds.

On Friday morning, a delivery man found two dogs who had been left outside a Twin Cities business overnight. They are now in the care of Brooklyn Park police.

“They can’t tolerate these conditions for very long at all, and they are at risk of not just frostbite, but also death,” said Dr. Melanie Sharpe.

Sharpe is a veterinarian with Mission Animal Hospital. She’s seen plenty of cases of frostbite this year. A rule of thumb is that if it’s too cold to put your hand on the ground for 5 seconds, it’s also too cold for a dog’s paws.

“I think there is a common misconception that because animals have coats that they can tolerate the weather a lot more readily than we can. And it’s just not true,” Sharpe said.

Secondhand Hounds knows that all too well. That’s why they believe that, right now, outside is no place for man’s best friend.

“If you don’t think you can bring your dog in, find a shelter, a rescue willing to take your dog in before it’s too late,” Mairose said.

Sharpe said it’s still OK to take your dog outside and be active, as long as they continue to move around.

But leaving them tied up outside or in a car creates health problems in a matter of minutes in extreme cold.

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