Ohio County Dog Warden Doug McCroskey and his fellow humane officers responded to 40 calls of dogs being kept outside in frigid weather over the past two days.
"I tell people, go outside with your biggest coat but no shoes and stand for two days. That's what you're asking your dog to do," McCroskey said after Tuesday's Ohio County Commission meeting. "They get frost bite just like us."
Temperatures have plummeted below zero with wind chills hitting 40 degrees below zero in some areas. McCroskey said many people simply are ignorant of state laws and of how much a dog can tolerate.
"If my skin starts stinging, then it's too cold for a dog," he said.
If a dog owner refuses to take the animal inside, McCroskey has the right to seize it on the spot. The owner is then summoned to magistrate court where they can plead their case to get the dog back. McCroskey said he has not seized any dogs in the past two days, but during a cold spell before Christmas he seized four.
In one of those cases, the dog were being kept at an abandoned house where his water and food was frozen. To try and satisfy its thirst, the dog had licked the ice in the bowl, its tongue melting a ring shape into it.
"Keep them inside," McCroskey said. "We are out there looking."
During the commission meeting, Commissioner Tim McCormick and Administrator Greg Stewart commended McCroskey and his fellow humane officers on their work.
Lou Vargo, Wheeling-Ohio County Emergency Management Agency director, said about 400 people lost electric power in the county Tuesday, but it since had been restored. He noted at his own home the temperature Tuesday morning was 9 degrees with a wind chill of 40 degrees below zero.
The next commission meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 21 in Room 215 of the City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St.