PEORIA COUNTY (HOI) — With winter upon us again, there’s a new law all pet owners should know about.
It’s all about protecting animals in the elements.
Police can take your pet if it is left outside in harsh weather.
“Basically what it states is that law enforcement can take custody of an animal that’s in distress in extreme situations,” said Peoria Police Public Information Officer Amy Dotson. “They can make the decision to make entry into the car, but normally we would contact PCAPS first.”
That’s where animal control officer Brandy Yeakel comes in. She works with the Peoria County Animal Protection Services.
“We educate them first, we give them warnings,” said Yeakel. “The only reason we would take them is if they are not being taken care of.”
PCAPS gets a lot of calls about stray animals, pets left outside and pets left in cars.
“Being in there for along period of time, they could definitely get very cold in there too. So, I wouldn’t leave them in your cars for long periods of time. Definitely not,” Yeakel said.
“You know, just because a dog has a fur coat on – or a cat, let’s not leave cats out – that doesn’t mean they won’t get cold. So consider that when you’re traveling out and about with your animals,” Dotson said.
Some safety tips if you do leave your pet outside:
“They have to have some sort of shelter and it has to be small enough where they can heat it with their own body.”
Straw or wood shavings help maintain warmth.
“Towels and blankets and pillows don’t work because the body heat makes them humid and they freeze.”
But, the animal control officer says the safest bet to keep them inside.
“It’s what I would recommend. Treat them like your children.”
Peoria Police also stress that you could be fined up to $300 if you are caught leaving a pet out in the cold.