The Lancaster SPCA has been inundated with phone calls from people concerned about animals being left out in the cold. While animals cannot be removed from a home unless they are visibly suffering, Pennsylvania law requires that animals have adequate shelter to maintain their body heat.
The Lancaster SPCA takes every call seriously and they gave FOX43 a front row seat as they investigated cold weather calls.
Jennifer Nields, a Humane Society police officer, investigates animal cruelty complaints. Her top priority right now is animals being left out in the cold.
"It's so controversial but people don't realize, yeah dogs have fur, but they still get cold, they are affected just like we are," said Nields.
She organizes her stops by severity and took FOX43 along for what she believed would be the worst. "It's pretty much a number of dogs being kept in unsanitary conditions and without proper housing in these climates," said Nields.
When we arrived at the home in Southern Lancaster County Jennifer made contact with the homeowner and let him know she received a complaint. She asked to look around the property. She made her way around and inspected every cage, and every animal on the property. She took pictures along the way as evidence.
During her investigation she found the complaint to be valid. The dogs were living in their own feces, and didn't have proper shelter.
"If the animals are not in imminent danger and they are not dying, I do have to give the owners a chance to rectify the situation," said Nields. She gave the owner of the dogs one week to upgrade their shelter and get the dogs a clean bill of health.
"He needs to get flaps on the doors, he needs to get them veterinary care, he needs to clean out the cages," said Nields.
She used the time to educate the owner. He agreed to take one dog into a warmer barn and throw away the tiny enclosure he was living in. She also got him to surrender an older dog name Pearlie.
"I do feel like leaving this situation that at least something was accomplished and I removed a very elderly dog out of the cold," said Nields.
As for Pearlie, she will be evaluated at the Lancaster SPCA and either put up for adoption or taken to a rescue.