Officers rescue animals left out in freezing weather

A cat rescued from the freezing weather by the Washington Humane Society. Photo: WJLA

As everyone in the D.C. area copes with the deep freeze, there's a big effort underway to make sure pets aren't left out to freeze.

Humane Law Enforcement Officer Michael Triebwasser is one of those making the rounds, bringing animals to safety and warmth.

He's on the road, hunting for pets left outside in this freezing cold weather, including a mother dog and her two pups who were left outside.

The owner says he didn't know about the District's shelter law requiring pets be sheltered when temperatures go above 100 or dip below 32 degrees. If there is an outdoor doghouse, it's required to have a flap on the door, it must be elevated off ground, and it has to have bedding inside.

While in Northeast, Triebwasser also checks out a wooden box where several cold dogs have been padlocked inside.

"Sometimes people stash them somewhere because they aren't allowed to have them at their apartment or whatever," Triebwasser says.

Some cats have to be impounded in the cold weather, but more often it's dogs.

Owners have 20 days to claim them. The Washington Humane Society's shelter has several dogs rescued from this latest arctic blast.

If they spend too much time in the cold weather, dogs are susceptible to hypothermia.

Many anonymous calls come from angry neighbors. On R Street in Northwest, a dog is left outdoors in the cold all day.

In Columbia Heights, an anonymous caller says a dog has been left at an abandoned house.

Sometimes the officers don't make it in time and the pets freeze to death. They have a warning to pet owners: Leaving an animal outdoors in this freezing weather isn't just cruel, it can be criminal.