TORRINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — The Torrington Police Department is driving home a message to pet owners during this bitter cold snap. Animal Control Officer Caitlin Nield says she expects to see her truck more often in the streets of Torrington. She’s on a mission to make sure no one is leaving their pets alone outside or in their parked cars for prolonged periods of time.
“In weather like this today, a short-haired dog — within a few minutes — you’ll see them start to shiver and shake,” Officer Nield said. “Obviously, they’re just too cold. Even just walking on the ground, it’s cold on the pads of their feet.”
The experts say dogs and cats are most likely to get frostbite in their paws, ears and tails. You can usually tell if there’s discoloration in those areas, swelling, or if your pet experiences pain when you touch those areas.
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Officer Nield also wants residents to know they could face charges under a state statute if they leave their pets to battle the elements alone.
“It focuses on how they’re left out,” she said. “Whether they’re tethered or just running loose and the temperature alone — the type of weather that they’re facing. There could be potential charges there whether it’s an infraction or even cruelty depending on the severity.”
Officer Nield allowed News 8 to ride along during one of her patrols today. She was driving up and down the lanes in several parking lots looking for dogs that might be left in cars. She found one that was alone inside of a pick-up truck.
“My concerns are the temperature and how long he’s been here,” she said. “How long he’ll remain until the owner comes back.”
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It turns out, the owner returned to his truck within minutes. Officer Nield did not charge him with anything because the dog did not look like he was in any kind of distress and the owner told her he just went into the store for a second. Officer Nield let him off with a friendly reminder.
“Just one thing to be aware of,” she said. “Days like today — just don’t leave him in there too long.”
Officer Nield says pets are members of the family — that’s why she dedicates her career to protecting them. She hopes pet owners see her driving around town in her white Animal Control vehicle and think twice about leaving pets in cold vehicles or outside on an even colder ground.