Winter is rough on people who can’t stand the cold, but it is much harder on our animals. Those who are kept out of doors suffer the most. Imagine how you would feel being tied outside next to a doghouse (if you are lucky) when it is 10 degrees and the wind chill is 15 below zero.

Dogs and cats are domesticated animals. They depend on humans for their food, shelter and safety. We can’t treat them like they are wild animals and expect them to fend for themselves. They need us to protect them from extreme weather conditions.

An animal that is exposed to freezing temperatures when no shelter is available is likely to suffer from frostbite. The most vulnerable parts of the animal’s body are the ears, tail and feet. Once frostbite has occurred, swelling and pain appear within 48 hours.

Frostbite is a serious threat to any animal forced to stay outside in freezing temperatures. An owner who leaves their animals out of doors without proper shelter from the elements could be charged with neglect. Missouri Statute 578.009 states “A person is guilty of animal neglect when he has custody or ownership or both of an animal and fails to provide adequate care or adequate control, which results in substantial harm to the animal.” Local and county police are responsible for enforcing Missouri’s animal protection laws. Animals Best Friends wants you to do your part and report any animals that are left out in the cold without shelter to your local police.

If you suspect an animal has been a victim of frostbite, get the animal inside and slowly warm its body temperature to 102 to 104 degrees using compresses. Do not rub the affected areas. It is important to be very gentle with the animal and get it to a veterinary right away. Skin damage from frostbite takes several days to access. Frostbite is as dangerous as a burn and the treatment includes antibiotics and pain medication.

The best action against frostbite is prevention. Please bring your animals inside during these cold winter months. Give them a warm, safe place to stay. If you do know of an animal that is out of doors and needs shelter, you can contact Michelle Dormady at 816-353-0940. Michelle coordinates the Pet Outreach Program through Spay Neuter Kansas City, where volunteers go door to door with dog houses and hay for animals that do not have shelter.

Please do your part to help animals who have no voice, they cannot ask for help, but you can.

If you would like to help the Independence Animal Shelter or Animals Best Friends the following is a list of items needed at both facilities: Flattened newspapers without the slicks, bleach, laundry detergent, Kong toys, towels (for the Independence Animal Shelter), and Purina dog and cat food (for Animals Best Friends).

The following animals are available for adoption at the Independence Animal Shelter. Visit the shelter at 875 Vista Drive or call 816-325-7207 for more information. If you have an animal control problem, call 325-7205.

• 7073641 male Labrador/retriever mix, black, 2 months.

• 7085961 male dachshund, black/white, 2 months.

• 7058723 male Schnauzer, gray, 6 years.

• 7076662 male Labrador retriever mix, brown, 2 months.

• 7088204 female Doberman mix, black/red, 9 months.

• 7065576 male Rottweiler mix, black/red, 1 year.

• 7072580 male Chow mix, red, 1 year.

• 7067325 male Siberian husky, black/tan, 1 year.

• 7087359 male retriever mix, black/white, 3 years.

• 7085758 male shepherd mix, brown/black, 8 months.

• 7087352 male Rottweiler mix, black/red, 11 months.

• 7084059 female bloodhound, black/red, 1 year.

• 7085887 male terrier, white/brown, 2 years.

• 7061370 male English cocker, cream/tan, 2 years.

• 7074736 male poodle mix, white, 1 year.

• 7088932 male retriever mix, tan, 3 years.

• 7078851 male corgi mix, tan/white, 4 years.

• 6163360 male Jack Russell terrier, tri-color, 4 years.

• 7068091 female cat, black/gray, domestic longhair, 2 years.

• 7067733 male cat, gray/white, domestic longhair, 1 year.

There are lots more dogs, puppies, cats and kittens available for adoption.