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Winter warmers for the woofers

The SPCA wants owners to keep their dogs warm this winter. PHOTO/JO MOORE

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As humans start hauling out their winter clothes, the SPCA is calling on them to keep their four-legged friends warm too.

SPCA Masterton has added its voice to a request from SPCA centres across the Wellington region to donate unused blankets and dog jackets.

SPCA inspectorate Ben Lakomy said this winter would be the first co-ordinated effort to stockpile warm winter items for pets. In previous years, the organisation had handed these items out to pet owners as and when they saw the need.

“Wairarapa SPCA has always been involved in supporting the community wherever we can,” Lakomy said.

“Blankets are given out by inspectors on a regular basis but more as an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, as they say.”

Lakomy said members of the public would often call SPCA inspectors to express their concern about the treatment of a particular animal.

Inspectors would then perform checks to ensure the welfare of that animal, which included providing support – sometimes in the form of clothing and blankets – so that an animal owner could meet their obligations.

Under Animal Welfare [Care and Procedures] regulations of 2018, dogs must have dry and shaded shelter. Owners must ensure their dog could access a clean and ventilated shelter, protected from the extremes of heat and cold.

Failure to comply with these regulations could result in a fine of $300.

However, Lakomy said inspectors could resolve most cases by supporting pet owners rather than by issuing fines.

“It is a common misconception that we might go to a property once or twice to resolve a job … the majority of our jobs require multiple rechecks,” he said.

Lakomy’s colleague, SPCA inspector Elisa McIntosh, came up with the idea for the blanket drive to cover her patch in Porirua.

“Just as you might rug up with a jumper, beanie, and scarf in the wintry weather, your pets need extra protection from winter’s elements as well,” McIntosh said.

“I’ve seen first-hand many dogs sleeping outside in kennels and how grateful their owners have been by the simple gesture of receiving a blanket to keep their dog warm.”

Lakomy decided it would be a good idea to extend the campaign across the Wellington-Wairarapa region.

“Provided you are meeting the minimum standards required, it is perfectly legal to house your dog outside,” he said.

However, he saw the campaign as a chance to make pet owners aware of the best possible standard of care, rather than just the minimum standard.

“We’re just trying to encourage really responsible pet ownership to make your animals as comfortable as possible. Some people see their dog every day, and perhaps just think that everything is all right, whereas there are actually probably quite a few improvements that they could make for very little cost or even no cost at all.”

SPCA scientific officer Dr Alison Vaughan said a dog’s shelter was crucial all year round, but particularly in winter.

“If your dog is outside during the day while you’re at work, make sure they have a shelter or kennel that is well insulated and doesn’t have any gaps where drafts may come through,” Vaughan said.

She said owners could feed their outdoor pets slightly more during winter because their bodies would burn more energy to keep warm.

Donors could drop blankets or dog jackets at SPCA Masterton’s centre or op shop or any South Wairarapa Vet Services clinic from June 14-27.

Pet owners could express their interest in the items by emailing [email protected]

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