Pet owners from around Emporia were invited to the parking lot of Waters True Value Saturday for the Humane Society of the Flint Hills’ annual Hay Giveaway.
From 8 a.m. to noon, residents could stock up on free bags of bedding hay donated by the East Emporia Veterinary Clinic, giving them all the material necessary to create cozy spaces for their animals during the upcoming winter months. By mid-morning, the group had given away nearly 70 10-pound bags, with plenty more available for late visitors.
“We give mainly to pet owners here in town that may not be able to keep their animals inside like they’d like to,” Humane Society Executive Director Caitlin Flood said. “This helps them keep their pets warm as best they can.
“It makes us feel really good to do things like this, because I know a lot of people have a lot of different opinions on whether animals should be kept outside or not. The people we help today are trying to do the best they can by their dogs and other animals, and we want to do the best we can to help them out as much as possible. We want to give back to the community that gives so much back to us and the animal shelter.”
While dry bedding like hay is a good start with any animal shelter, Flood said, she hopes that pet owners keep several other tips in mind to provide the best possible environments for their furry friends. Besides making sure the shelter blocks wind, Flood encouraged owners to take an active role in inspecting for drafty areas or moisture.
“Blankets and towels aren’t the best way to keep animals warm, because they don’t retain heat as well,” Flood said. “If they get wet, they’re also going to stay that way for a lot longer. Another big thing that people don’t think about is extra food. If you keep your animals outside the majority of the time during the winter, you need to feed them a bit more to help them maintain their body heat.
“Pets are also going to need a lot more water during the colder months than you think they would. That water source should be checked often to make sure it’s not frozen over or iced up. You also shouldn’t use metal bowls, because if it’s cold enough, pets can have their tongues freeze to the side of the bowl.”
While a common saying regarding outdoor pets during more frigid times of the year is, “If you’re cold, they’re cold,” Flood said that wasn’t always the case. Still, she encourages owners to err on the side of caution, using common sense in any pet-related decisions they may come across.
“If it gets super cold out, obviously bring your pets inside, but a husky is going to do a lot better than something like a chihuahua would do,” Flood said. “Just be mindful of what breed of dog you have and how they personally deal with the cold. If you have a northern breed of dog — those are going to be dogs that have the dual-coat layer like huskies and Great Pyrenees — they’ll be acclimated a lot better than say a Pit bull or a German Shorthair.
“Smaller dogs are always going to need more shelter and warmth than bigger dogs, too. The rule of thumb is that large, fluffy dogs can probably stay outside and do better out there, but smaller dogs or dogs with shorter coats are going to get pretty cold pretty quickly.”
For any questions on pet care tips during the upcoming winter season, contact the Humane Society of the Flint Hills at 342-4477 or visit the organization at 215 W. Sixth Ave.