DENVER (KDVR) — During the recent subzero weekend, Denver Animal Protection responded to dozens of calls reporting pets left outside in dangerous conditions, according to city records.
“It was crazy,” said animal protection officer Jenna Humphreys. “People were being really good about calling in those welfare checks, and we do appreciate that.”
Humphreys said it was the busiest winter weekend she ever experienced with her more than seven years on the job. Between Friday and Sunday, officers responded to 101 animal welfare investigations.
“Some of the things that we’re looking for: is the animal showing signs of distress, are they shivering?” Humphreys said. “Are they rolled up in a ball?”
The Problem Solvers discovered 62 of the 101 animal welfare investigation calls were specifically for dogs left out in the elements, and three calls reported animals left inside vehicles.
Not every call leads to a citation. Humphreys said most of her calls over the past weekend did not. Many times, officers will be called to a location and an animal has already been brought inside by the time an officer arrives, Humphreys said.
Officers rely on both education and enforcement. Warnings, citations, court summons and even animal impoundment can be used. The law allows for officer discretion.
In Denver, there is no set temperature that requires pets be indoors. A lot of cold weather situations depend on specific breed tolerance.
From Friday to Sunday, Denver animal protection officers issued two court summons, five fines and 27 warnings. They also impounded eight animals.
Penalties for some of the most extreme cases can include a $999 fine and a year in jail.
Through a partnership, Denver is able to provide a Safe Haven Program that helps struggling families shelter pets. For more information, visit the City’s website.