Animal Friends provides free straw for outdoor animals

Monday, October 7, 2019 | 10:59 AM

To prepare for the cold months ahead, Animal Friends has straw ready and is offering free bags to anyone caring for outdoor animals, including feral and community cats. Bags of straw can be picked up at Animal Friends seven days a week.

While Animal Friends encourages owners to keep pets inside – especially during the winter months – they recognize that some animals live outdoors. Because of this, Animal Friends encourages these caretakers to obey the law by ensuring that animals have access to proper food, drinkable water and warm, dry shelters to protect them from the elements. Because blankets, towels and pillows can retain moisture and freeze, straw is the best insulation against cold and wet weather.

In addition to straw, a car mat, rug or heavy plastic sheet can be used as a flap over a dog house door or cat shelter entrance to keep out wind, snow and rain. Shelters should be checked frequently to ensure that there are no cracks or holes that will prevent the structure from keeping the animal safe from the elements. Water should be changed regularly and extra food should be provided during freezing temperatures.

During the winter months, pet owners are encouraged to check their animals’ paws, ears and tail for signs of frostbite. If frostbite is suspected, the pet must be seen by a veterinarian right away.

Tethers should be checked often to ensure they are not frozen to the ground or tangled. A line that is too short could prevent the animal from entering their shelter or reaching their food and water bowls, which could be the difference between life and death.

Changes to Animal Cruelty Law have restricted how often and how long a dog can be tethered outside. By following these laws, pets will remain safe and owners will avoid charges.

To learn more, go to, contact Animal Friends at 412-847-7000 or visit their campus in Ohio Township at 562 Camp Horne Road, Pittsburgh. Their hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.