"If people want to have pets, then they should be treated as part of the family," said Diane Buhl, incoming cruelty officer with the Tamaqua Area Animal Rescue (TAAR). "They should not be left outside in below freezing temperatures or in inadequate shelters."
"The laws regarding animal crueltly aren't good enough," said Crissy Wertz, board member, Tamaqua Area Animal Rescue. "Pet owners should not be allowed to keep a dog outside 24/7 no matter what temperature it is outside."
"People should have compassion for their pets," said Jackie Motz, vice president, TAAR. "We've experienced so many cases of animal neglect. Pets are family and should be treated as such."
The Pennsylvania animal cruetly statute states: A person commits an offense if he wantonly or cruelly illtreats, overloads, beats, otherwise abuses any animal, or neglects any animal as to which he has a duty of care, whether belonging to himself or otherwise, or abandons any animal, or deprives any animal of necessary sustenance, drink, shelter or veterinary care, or access to clean and sanitary shelter which will protect the animal against inclement weather and preserve the animal's body heat and keep it dry.
"Pet owners think because they are animals they can tolerate being in extreme temeratures," added Wertz. "That is not true. Most domestic pets have been bred over time."
Buhl added that many dog houses are not adequate enough to provide a safe shelter for their pets, stressing that small dogs shouldn't have big dog houses.
TAAR is stressing that pet owners bring their pets, whether it be dogs or cats, inside during high winds, rain and extreme hot and cold temperatures.
"I've seen a few cats outside in my neighborhood," said Lori White, a cat owner from Tamaqua. "I've told people to tap on the hood or honk their horns before starting their cars."
"No one would let a family member out in the extreme cold day and night," said Kathy Kropp, a pet owner from Tamaqua. "Pets are family members, so don't let them out in the extreme cold either."
"Although our dog Sasha loves the outside ... even when its cold ... we limit her exposure to it," said pet owner Angela Lopata of Andreas. "Most people don't realize how detrimental it is to leave their pets outside in harsh temperatures. They think that because they may be outdoors normally and they have a 'fur coat' that there isn't an issue, but that's certainly not the case ... It's quite the opposite."
"Caring for neglected animals is a mission near and dear to my heart. I am always on the lookout for animals in distress," stressed pet owner Stacey Betz of New Ringgold. "The Tamaqua Area Animal Rescue is a great organization that responded to a call by me last Friday. There is a dog across from my sister's house that's left outside all the time. It's so sad, but nothing can be done because the laws in PA say that if the dog has shelter and hay in their shelter, the animal cannot be seized.
"This was the case with the dog I was concerned about. I watched him shivering and without water because it had frozen. I also watched this dog ride out Hurricane Sandy and many brutally hot summer days. It's just not right and it's certainly not fair or humane!"
Buhl, who served 20 years as humane officer and five years as a dog warden, says, "Treat your pets as you should –a family member."