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Unfit for man or beast, frigid weather taxes resources of Kansas City Animal Shelter

Updated: 2014-02-02T19:59:41Z

By DONALD BRADLEY

The Kansas City Star

Technically, the border collie mix in kennel 35B at the Kansas City Animal Shelter came in listed as a stray.

But he wasn’t doing much straying chained to a tree. That was where someone spotted him late Sunday in a yard and, with the temperature dropping well below zero, called animal control.

An officer picked him up and took him to the shelter on Raytown Road where he joined about 90 other animals brought in over recent days as the coldest temperatures in more than a decade settled over the Midwest. Some of these cold-weather rescues were brought in by the public, others by animal control officers.

A few were taken from yards with little or no shelter and frozen water bowls. Monday’s early morning low hit 6 below zero with a wind chill index of minus 26, according to the National Weather Service.

One little tabby cat was found outside the shelter Monday by an employee when she arrived to work.

“She’s been under a heat lamp and is just now starting to warm up,” surgical technician Ragan Hoelzel said as she held the cat.

Hoelzel shook her head at the reality of some pet owners leaving animals to fend for themselves against bitter cold.

“To think that some people think that’s OK amazes me,” Hoelzel said.

Kansas City officials on Monday reminded residents that animal control officers will impound pets found outside in freezing conditions and issue citations to their owners.

“But we would really prefer that people do the right thing in this extreme weather,” said Chris Hernandez, a city spokesman.

Residents may report pets left outdoors by contacting the city’s 311 Call Center at 311 or 816-513-1313 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. After hours, call the nonemergency police number, 816-234-5111.

Shelter spokeswoman Tori Fugate said Monday: “We’re getting pretty close to desperate here. We’re getting lots of calls and we’re going to need the public’s help in finding homes.”

The new arrivals probably don’t like it much at the shelter. They don’t know anyone.

On Monday, a Chihuahua puppy, maybe 6 weeks old, trembled in the arms of a shelter worker. He was found early Monday outside a Gladstone apartment complex.

“No way he would have made it through the day,” Fugate said.

Some warming is in sight today with the mercury expected to reach 31 degrees, but Wednesday could bring more snow and drizzle with highs in the upper 20s.

Fugate said pet owners must work a little harder to care for animals during freezing weather. If possible, she said, bring animals inside the house. Especially dogs with short hair.

If not possible, make sure the animals have adequate shelter with straw bedding and covered doors facing south. Also be sure to change the pet’s water several times a day because of freezing. Be advised, too, that ice-melt products can burn the pads on a pet’s paws.

But as the influx of new evidence at Kansas City animal shelter shows, some people aren’t getting the message.

Beginning Friday, the shelter will offer a special rate of $40 for dogs heavier than 40 pounds. Cats can be adopted for $25.

Weather’s impact lingers

• Schools: Some school districts have already canceled classes for today or pushed back start times, but others weren’t expected to decide until this morning.

• Flights: Monday at Kansas City International Airport, dozens of flights were canceled, including many to Chicago, and many more were delayed.

• Driving: Highway crews worked around the clock to finish clearing snow from roadways and shoulders. Motorists are urged to slow down and watch out for lingering patches of ice. Officials also caution drivers during the cold spell to equip their vehicles with an emergency kits and let friends or family members know about travel plans.

To reach Donald Bradley, call 816-234-4182 or send email to dbradley@kcstar.com.

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