The cold weather is finally starting to move on from the Panhandle and the rest of the Lone Star state. We have seen some really horrible pictures from across the state of our friends, family, and neighbors without water or power--or both--with no timetable on restoration other than "as soon as we can safely do so."

But what about pets? Often overlooked, our companions give us unconditional love and affection and ask for very little in return. The sad truth is, because they ask for little in return and cannot communicate effectively with us, when the weather or situations take a turn for the worse they can easily fly under the radar.

Officials with Animal Management and Welfare have so far this week have responded to just north of 430 calls with over half of those being welfare checks.

There is a common misconception that with dogs and cats, their fur helps keep them warm. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, while long hair breeds are better suited for cold, all breeds are still prone to frostbite and hypothermia just like you and me.

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Some of the things you can do is to continue to bring animals in when you are able. If you cannot do so, make sure they have access to an area that is shielded from the wind and is above ground to keep from losing heat. Thick bedding is a must.

Don't forget to check your critters' paws as well, a hint something isn't right here is a new limp as they walk.

Just like summertime, pets have no business being left in the car while you run an errand. The extreme cold is just as dangerous.

The City of Amarillo has a few other tips as well. AAMW Director Victoria Medley is on the record as saying, “The weather in Amarillo can be dangerous for animals left outside, especially during the winter months. AAMW officers responding to welfare calls were focused on helping residents, if at all possible, regarding any type of animal welfare issues. It important for the community to understand that if pets are left outside for any amount of time, that by City of Amarillo ordinance, they must have access to water and food and they must have a dry, clean and draft-free shelter large enough to protect them from the elements.”

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