Temperatures in the teens and single digits over the next several days will be dangerous for pets left outside. Bob Citrullo, director of Chattanooga's Humane Educational Society (HES), says extreme cold is unsafe for the majority of domesticated breeds.
"Animals do obviously reside outside and they can live outside. But when temperatures really drop like this, combined with a wind chill, it's preferred that they all come inside," urges Citrullo.
Since December first, nearly 60 people have called about dogs left outside on frigid nights. Citrullo says in most cases owners get distracted or simply don't realize the effects.
"They don't understand what needs to be provided for the animal," says Citrullo. "We've had a few where they actually forgot the animal was outside." Citrullo recalls this happening on a call when someone was busy all day moving into a home.
But in some cases, like one in Marion county in January of 2014, they don't survive. Although it might not have been intentional, at least one dog there froze to death.
Even if you don't want to bring your dogs into the main parts of your house, Citrullo says there are still easy ways to keep them warm indoors.
"If you have a basement they [the dogs] can be put into the basement," suggests Citrullo. "If you have a garage, you can put them inside."
Just put lay blankets or pillows on the cold floor. HES even has limited supplies it can lend, including indoor crates and cages.
Sharon Wang shops for her puppy, Lucy, on Thursday. She's rather diplomatic about whether to leave our canine friends outside on cold nights.
"I would probably bring them in since I'm used to having indoor dogs," explains Wang. "I'd probably not be as comfortable in making the call as to when they should come in as people who have outdoor dogs."
Citrullo says HES is not out to embarrass or judge anyone. It's all about education and safety.
"That's out number one priority is the health and welfare of the animals, of course," adds Citrullo.
He goes on to say that when responding to a call, the owner is required to take action while HES is at the home--for all intense and purposes, bringing the dog inside. If the owner doesn't comply, the animal is seized and brought to the shelter for the night to keep it warm.