CSRA (WJBF) – Cold weather this weekend could mean life or death for your outdoor pet, with temperatures expecting to drop into the teens this weekend combined with a severe wind chill.

For an outdoor animal to survive, it needs to be properly cared for.

“If this was your child or if it was yourself, would you put yourself in that situation without having the proper gear to prepare yourself?,” said Samaria Fenner, the manager of marketing at the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. “You wouldn’t go to the mountains or Mount Everest and not wear a heavy coat or try to keep yourself warm, so we just want to make sure that people are informed.”

If you can’t bring your animal inside, section 4-1-27 of the Augusta City Ordinance states that outdoor animals must have a weatherproof enclosure.

“Usually we try to start off with warning first letting people know the city ordinance regarding what would be considered cruelty to animals with a dog being outside in cold weather,” said James Dowdy, an animal control officer at Augusta Animal Services. “If it gets to the point where a dog does become deceased or we’ve dealt with the person on numerous occasions, a citation can be issued.” 

Animal care experts recommend insulating the shelter with blankets or materials that trap heat.

They also said that water and food for the animals should be heated up to keep from freezing.

“We want them to stay warm,” said Crystal Eskola, the deputy director at Augusta Animal Services. “Like this little puppy has been outside too much, now he’s congested and sick. If he would have been inside the house, he wouldn’t be like that. They make to heated dog houses, they make heated cat houses, they make heated water bowls. You can buy those at your local pet store.”

Our Chief Meteorologist Tim Miller said these temperatures could give a human hypothermia and frostbite in minutes if not fully protected, and could do much worse to vulnerable animals.

If you want to keep your four-legged family members safe and avoid paying a fine, bundle them up and give them adequate food, water and especially shelter.

Augusta Animal Services is doing Home for the Holidays on Friday from 11-5, and the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare is doing Take Me Home for the Holidays until Friday.

People can adopt or foster an animal during the holidays and return them, if needed, in early January.