Caring for animals in storm’s aftermath
Buddy charged out the front door into a snowy Old Forge yard with Oliver close behind. A hesitant Nova stayed on the porch, because this was the puppy’s first snow experience.
She eventually ventured onto a big path Kristen Pietryka shoveled for the three dogs.
After Buddy, an 8-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, Oliver, a 1-year-old border collie/Labrador retriever mix, and Nova, an 8-month old Labrador retriever, pitbull and German shepherd mix, finished their romp in the snow, Pietryka checked their paws and fur for clinging ice. She keeps them inside when the wind is especially gusty or visibility is low.
Veterinarian Edward Payne, director of emergency and critical care at the Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center in South Abington Township, shared similar tips to help canines and felines cope with the weather.
If animals are hesitant about dipping their paws in the snow, Payne recommends shoveling an area down to the ground for them to roam. Deep snow hinders dogs’ sense of smell, which could scare them, he said. Pets should stay outside in 32-degree temperatures for only about 10 minutes, he said.
Watch pets’ paws for signs of irritation from rock salt used to melt ice on roads and sidewalks. When they come in from outside, dry off their paws. If there is ice or snow stuck to their fur, a warm washcloth or towel will remove the chill.
“Pets outside in the winter require extra food, (because) they use up so much of their fat when their bodies create heat to stay warm,” said Sandy Scala, Griffin Pond Animal Shelter humane officer.
To weather the storm, four Griffin Pond employees stayed overnight to comfort the animals.
“The workers had some pets snuggled up with them overnight,” Scala said, adding that, thanks to community donations, Griffin Pond did not run out of food. The shelter was closed to the public March 15 and 16 as it cleaned up from the storm.
Unlike domesticated animals, Pennsylvania wildlife is equipped to handle the extreme weather, said Travis Lau, state Game Commission spokesman.
While bears will continue hibernating until the end of March or beginning of April, deer may be spotted roaming roads and cleared corridors.
“When traveling, deer take the path of least resistance,” he said.
The woodland animals have a natural instinct to sense when a storm is coming and prepare their metabolisms to go for days on a limited food supply, Lau said. Residents are discouraged from feeding deer but if they see the animals in an emergency situation, such as blocking a roadway or trapped in an area, contact the local game commission office in Dallas at 570-675-2394.
“Oftentimes, wildlife is best left alone,” Lau said.