With the weather getting colder and wetter, it can be troubling to see a dog or cat out in the cold alone.
Last year, the BC SPCA Animal Protection Officers (APOs) responded to 573 calls about tethered animals, and 725 calls about animals not having any shelter.
The SPCA has provided a guide to help concerned individuals know what to do when they see a distressed animal outdoors.
According to the SPCA, the definition of distress is when an animal is:
- Deprived of adequate food, water, shelter, ventilation, light, space, exercise or veterinary care
- Kept in conditions that are unsanitary
- Not protected from excessive heat or cold
- Injured, sick, in pain or suffering
- Abused or neglected
If you see an animal tethered outside, but you think it is receiving adequate care, the SPCA suggests talking to the animal’s owner first.
It is important to find out how long and how often the animal has been tethered outside and opt for having an open conversation with your neighbour instead of an accusatory one.
“Consider their situation, and what you might do if you were in their same situation. Are there behaviour problems? Is the dog being used as a guard dog?” said the SPCA in a statement.
The SPCA continues: “If that doesn’t influence change, consider asking your municipality to adopt a bylaw limiting tethering. While the BC SPCA would prefer to see bylaws that mandate someone be present and monitoring any animal that is tethered, we’re supportive of any bylaw that promotes taking animals off tether.”
If you think the animal is in clear distress you should contact the SPCA’s centralized Animal Cruelty Reporting Hotline at 1-855-622-7722 and the call will be directed to your local Animal Protection Officer.
When you call the hotline, know the address where the animal is located, and have a description of the colour, size, and breed of the animal.It is also a good idea to have a documentation of your concern.
“You can keep a log of what you see regarding food, water, shelter, cleanliness and exercise on a daily basis. How often and how long is the animal tied up a tether? What is the weather like?” says the SPCA.
Be sure to keep aware of these factors when you see an animal outside. It may be serious enough for the SPCA to take action, but you should take proper steps before reporting the incident.