How To Help Stray Animals In The Blizzard

by Joseph D. Lyons
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

With Storm Stella still blustering through the East Coast, thousands of flights have been canceled, public transportation has shut down in major cities, and schools across the region have been closed. With all the hazards in this treacherous weather, if you're being hit by the storm, you're not going to want to venture out in wind and snow. Period. But there's some stray cats and dogs in the 2017 blizzard who don't have a choice. They're living out in the elements, and they could use your assistance to beat back Storm Stella as she barrels in on Tuesday. You can help keep them warm, safe, and fed — or prevent them from suffering during the next winter storm.

There's no doubt that stray cats, dogs, and other animals suffer more during this time of year. And domesticated animals are some of the most at risk. Pets may not have the "street smarts" so to speak, and won't know where to seek shelter during a blizzard.

Kristen Frank, a vet at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told VICE that she'd worry about domesticated animals first. They might find themselves into a "dire scenario." "They're not used to fending for themselves or surviving in that kind of environment," Frank explained. So if you're thinking about the best way to help the animal community, focus on animals that were once pets. Here's how.

Call Animal Control

This may not be the instantaneous solution, I realize. But animal control will pick up dogs, cats, or other animals as soon as possible. That would prevent them from suffering through the next storm. In New York City, the number is 311.

Provide Shelter

This doesn't have to mean bringing the animals directly inside your home — and you shouldn't bring them in unless you feel comfortable it is safe. You can still make a makeshift shelter for stray animals that you could leave outside by setting up a cardboard box. Fill it with straw if you can — towels and blankets will get wet as the snow melts. In other cities like Istanbul, residents covered stray dogs with blankets. You could do this too — but only somewhere dry.

Put Out Clean Water

Deicing salts and anti-freeze are actually really toxic, and pets may drink melted snow that's mixed with these chemicals. Put out a dish of clean water instead to keep them from being poisoned.

Donate Money (Or Time!)

The Humane Society of the United States is a great charity to consider donating to — and they need your help year round, not just during the storms. That said, if they had more resources more animals wouldn't be left without resources period, including during winter storms. I'd also encourage you to find your local shelter and give there. If money is tight, consider volunteering, instead — especially after the storm to deal with aftermath these animals are facing.

Give your time to the local shelter, notify the city about strays you see in good weather, and always have your own pets spayed or neutered. If there are no abandoned animals, during the next storm there won't be anything to worry about.

You and your pets stay warm out there.