Animal care teams help rescue pets from frigid temps

protecting pets (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis Animal Care Services (IACS) and Friends of Indianapolis Dogs Outside (FIDO) patrolled zip code 46201 Thursday in their weekly “alley outreach” looking for dogs and cats locked outside in freezing weather.

A city ordinance (section 531-401, effective September 30, 2015) requires animals be brought inside a temperature-controlled building when the outside temperature drops to 20 degrees or lower. FIDO representatives and IACS officers spend winter afternoons responding to neighbor reports and educating pet owners on the ordinance, as well as helping them learn how to welcome their animal into their home for the winter.

“Today it’s cut and dry. You have a dog, that dog needs to be inside,” said Darcie Kurtz, executive director of FIDO. “We have training crates, indoor crates we can give people to enable them to bring their dogs inside. Any reason, flea treatment, any hurdle to bringing your dog inside, we have the supplies to address that.”

Kurtz and her team travel with IACS Officer Becky Knowles, since FIDO has no legal authority to enforce the Indianapolis ordinance.

“It’s very frustrating, but we have to have a lot of patience because sometimes people just don’t know,” said Knowles. “We’re out here with FIDO trying to educate people to know what the laws are so they can help their pets.”

In extreme cases, Knowles can remove the animal from its owner if the owner refuses to provide proper care. She says that’s never her goal and hopes to educate and enable people to be responsible pet owners. She explained that an unheated garage or dog house is not sufficient protection from the elements, no matter how many blankets you add.

“The way we’ve domesticated animals these days and they way they’re bred, we’ve kept them inside so long they can’t stand the weather like they used to,” she explained. “Even dogs with short hair, even though they have a little bit of fur, it’s not enough.”

24-Hour News 8 rode along for Thursday’s alley outreach, where the FIDO and IACS team sees 10-20 outdoor animals on average. Most pet owners were cooperative and accepted help, such as free training crates, straw bedding, dog food and treats, and resources for spay and neutering services.

“We are most effective in the lower income neighborhoods because, for our organization, how we can have the most impact is helping with supplies and services,” said Kurtz, “and so if people are financially struggling that’s a good incentive for them.”

After helping a family return a pit bull to the inside of its home, Kurtz said she often notices a difference in the animal’s behavior once it’s warm.

“It’s amazing how much you get that dog off the chain how much nicer it is,” said Kurtz. “Very sweet dogs, all of them.”

If you know of an outdoor animal in need of attention, please contact Indianapolis Animal Care Services at 317-327-4622 or at here.

If you need help bringing your own dog inside this winter, FIDO can provide training crates, dog houses, straw, vaccinations with spay/neuter services, along with pet food, collars, leashes, and fence repair. Contact them at 317-221-1314 or at