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Dog tired of the cold

Fort Simpson resident concerned, vet says frostbite can be severe

NNSL Photo

Marilyn Lee knows that her pets, Leggs, a miniature pinscher, and Ziggy, a long-hair/short-hair Chihuahua cross, are safe from the cold, but she is concerned about some other dogs in the community. - Derek Neary/NNSL photo

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Dec 14/01) - Marilyn Lee and her co-workers see too many shivering and undernourished dogs from their perch at the rear of the Fort Simpson Health Centre.

"We've seen two dogs come by that had frozen paws, or they're hungry or so skinny ... I think it's cruel," Lee said. "If people want them outside, make sure they've got a warm place to sleep and give them food and water.

"Some of the howls you recognize as because they're so cold and hungry. You just want to cry."

Lois Martin, a Fort Simpson nurse, dog owner and quasi-veterinarian, said she can recall a rottweiler freezing to death on a -35 C night three years ago.

"It was sad. I was really upset about it," she said.

Tom Pisz, a Yellowknife-based veterinarian, said frostbite usually results in lesions that can be treated by antibiotics or ointments. However, in extreme cases, frostbite can lead to ears, testicles or the tail literally freezing off, he said.

Smaller dogs and short-haired breeds are generally more susceptible to frostbite, he explained. However, the dogs' lifestyle is also a factor.

"You can have a husky which is living in the house and he's even going to get frostbite if you just throw him out," Pisz said.

Bert Tsetso, a bylaw officer in Fort Simpson, said there is nothing in the village's bylaws forcing pet owners to protect their pets from the cold.

He suggested that huskies have commonly been kept in the community for many years and some people may assume all dogs can adjust to the cold like huskies can.