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COLUMBIA - As bitter cold weather grips mid-Missouri, some pets may be suffering.

There is no requirement that enforces people to bring their pets inside when the weather reaches a certain temperature however, just like humans, pets can go into a hypothermic mode or receive frostbite. 

Columbia/Boone County Animal Control Officer Brandon Anderson said there is a state law in place for proper care of animals and it could come into play during frigid conditions.

“State law requires dogs to have adequate food, shelter and water," Anderson said. "If they're a small breed dog that will freeze to death in this kind of weather, it’s good to bring them inside."

Anderson said failure to make sure a pet is properly sheltered can result in consequences.

“It’s a case of animal abuse at that point," he said.

People can be cited and the courts decide what the fines are.

"It’s pretty hefty most of the time and it goes on your record as animal abuse," Anderson said.

The City of Columbia has an anti-tethering ordinance that says a dog cannot be tied out a majority of the day.

“It’s up to a judge to interpret what majority of the day means, but it is something we investigate."

A leash must have a swivel on both ends, while a dog house must have three sides, a roof and a floor.

"As long as your dog house is properly insulated, has bedding for the weather provided and they get food and water and adequate vet care when it’s necessary, and they keep their rabies shot up to date, that animal’s in compliance.”

Columbia resident Paul Oliver said leaving pets outside in this weather is unacceptable.

“If you wouldn’t want to be left out in these temperature, then why leave your pet out there?” he said.

In Boone County, there is no law in place for animals such as cats, because they usually find somewhere warm to go and there haven't been any complaints of cat cruelty in the weather.

Livestock animals have hooves and can adapt to cold weather, but still need to receive proper care.

This past year, Columbia/Boone County Animal Control investigated 297 cases of animal cruelty. There have not been any cases of animals being neglected in the cold, so far.

Animal Control suggest the following tips when seeing a stray animal in the cold:

  • Call Columbia/Boone County Animal Control at 573-449-1888, they will then take the animal to the Central Missouri Humane Society 
  • Provide a warm spot if possible

The Central Missouri Humane Society can be reached at 573-443-7387 and suggests the following tips:

  • Bring pets in
  • Acclimate pets to cold weather
  • Provide adequate shelter
  • Beware of antifreeze and rock salt
  • Take care of their coats
  • Provide plenty of food and water
  • Use caution wit heat sources