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Those who love their pets tend to enjoy all animals. Our animal owners are no different. Check in on News-Herald staffers Robin Palmer and Cheryl Sadler as they share their own animal tales and announce upcoming events in Lake and Geauga counties.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Freezing so they don't have to

As an owner of outdoor rabbits, I live with tremendous guilt in these most severe winter months.

But I've felt a little bit warmer lately -- and so have Sky and Sherb -- since I learned a couple things from the folks of the Humane Society of Delaware County, Ohio.

The concept of their recent Freeze Out 2009 event was this: Spend 10 hours in the winter cold overnight and live to tell the tale, educating pet owners and helping pets in the process.

"It was my idea," admitted Wade Beane, the branch's director, who was thrilled when more than 100 people joined him for portions of the event between 8 p.m. and 6 p.m.

A dozen people stayed all 10 hours and even stripped down for the 30 Minute Extreme to prove the greatest point. Mother Nature didn't disappoint, either, showing up with 20-degree temperatures and freezing rain and snow between 2 and 6 a.m.

"Everybody's felt cold themselves," Beane said. "If we can get people to relate to that and think, 'Those idiots, what are they doing outside for 10 hours? That can't be safe,' and then - the transference is the key part - if they could personalize what it would be like for them to spend a night outside, and then transfer that to their pets, then they could say, 'Having my dog outside all night isn't the best idea. I'll bring 'em in.'"

For animals built to stay outside -- horses, for example -- Beane stressed the importance of wind-blocks (to trap the heat bodies naturally emit), fresh water (not a block of ice), and insulating straw (the hollow, tan-colored stuff, not the grassy green or brown stuff). Beane said Freeze Out participants were shocked to find it felt about 25 degrees warmer under the 10 bails of straw they could use to cover themselves up with.

Best of all, money raised from the event will be used to keep Delaware County canines cozy through another of its innovative programs, Houses for Hounds.

"Next year we're hoping to get over 100 different animal rescue organizations throughout the northern states to all do it on the same night," Beane said.

Here's hoping Lake and Geauga groups get brave and jump on board on Jan. 8, 2010.

-- Sandra M. Klepach

Guidelines for proper care of an animal's safety and emotional well-being in cold weather are available on the society's Web site.


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