Weather can be unpredictable. During the winter, it might be 50 degrees and sunny or freezing temperatures with a wintry mix. Unfortunately, the Animal Orphanage in Voorhees (AOV) lost heat during a recent weekend of freezing temperatures, snow and rain.
On Sunday, Jan. 27, AOV announced on its Facebook page the heater was broken, and requested blankets, doggie jackets and sweaters to be donated until the heater is fixed.
Christine Todd, director at AOV, said people have been dropping off supplies after the announcement.
She said the owner of Thermocool of New Jersey donated a kerosene heater to temporarily heat the building.
“People were coming in droves,” outreach and volunteer coordinator Angela Cimino said.
All dogs had either a blanket or a bed in their kennel. Some had jackets and sweaters on.
Piles of blankets and bedding were stacked in a storage closet and an empty kennel while the laundry was washing other bedding items.
Todd said the organization received a lot of jackets and bedding for the animals, but AOV is always in need of more help, including laundry detergent.
As for the animals, volunteers and staff try to keep the animals indoors as much as they can, leaving the kennel doors to the doggie run closed.
Local shelters offer tips
The Animal Welfare Association’s executive director Maya Richmond said the shelter has been receiving phone calls from people seeking tips for animals that stay outside.
She said people called looking for tips on how they should approach a neighbor without being confrontational.
Calls regarding stray cats have also been on the rise, Richmond said.
“We work with people. [We find out] if there is a home for those cats,” she said, adding the shelter also provides tips on various ways to help outdoor animals during winter months.
For dog owners, both Richmond and Todd recommend using pet friendly ice melter, which can be found at any store with pet supplies.
“Dog’s paws get raw and they step on the salt,” Richmond said, adding it is important to dry your dogs feet when they come indoors.
Richmond also said it is important for residents to make sure when filling antifreeze to check to see if any has spilled onto the ground. The sweet smell could attract animals. Antifreeze is poisonous when ingested, she said.
Todd recommends taking your animal indoors if possible.
There are also tips for dog owners that are unable to bring their animal inside.
Richmond said an outdoor doghouse that is elevated from the cold ground and uses straw as an insulator instead of blankets is effective.
“Blankets can hold the cold weather more,” Richmond said, adding blankets are better used to protect the animals from indoor drafts, and not from the cold outdoors.
Some residents might run into stray cats roaming around the neighborhood.
Todd and Richmond suggest checking your car before starting it up.
Richmond said the animal shelter responded to a cat stuck under the hood of a car two years ago. The cat was burned and would not come out, she said,
“When the weather drops, cats squeeze between car hoods,” Richmond said.
“When you go to your car bang on your hood, check underneath, lift the hood or beep the horn just to make sure no cat is there,” Todd said.
The main concern with the cold weather is owners losing their pets.
Todd said it is better to have your pet microchipped. If an animal is found without a collar or tag, any animal shelter is able to check for a microchip and scan it to return the pet to their owner.
“We really promote microchipping here because even if the dog comes here we can scan them immediately, and we can reunite them to their owner,” she said.
When the temperature drops, dogs lose their sense of smell making it more difficult for dogs to find their way back home, Richmond said.
People are also unaware of the proper steps to take when they lose their pet.
“On our Facebook page we have what you should do and who to call. A lot of people feel that if you just call the police, and if they find your dog they will call you. That’s not the case. Every town should publicize on their website who their animal control officer is, what shelter they contract with and also the nonemergency police number,” Todd said.
“We have a lot of dogs here that do not get reclaimed and a simple microchip would do wonders,” she said.
For more information about pet safety and how to report a lost dog visit AOV’s website at www.theanimalorphanage.org or Animal Welfare Association’s website at www.awanj.org.
The Animal Orphanage and Animal Welfare Association are always in need of bedding, towels, cleaning supplies, pet treats, cat and dog food, and more. The Animal Orphanage is located at 419 Cooper Road, and the Animal Welfare Association is located at 509 Centennial Boulevard.