Preparing for winter

Make sure you take the time to prepare all your animals for winter

You’ve brought in the hoses, packed away the rakes, wheel barrels and watering cans and have the snow shovel leaning by the back door.

You are ready for the white stuff. But are your animals? Are they ready for winter and if not, what are you planning to do to make them so?

Whether you are a rural urbanite or a true ruralist with acreage, barns and animals, you need to ensure your pets and livestock are prepared to get through the cold and snowy times in the best shape possible.

If your dogs are housed outside, that facility must be weather sound.

That means caulking gaps in the walls, checking the roof for leaks and ensuring sufficient straw or hay to lock in their body heat when they bury into its depth. You can not expect your canines to survive without such housing.

The same is said for outdoor cats. They need an entry door to a garage, shed or similar structure via a “cat door” where they can gain access to a dry and warm environment as well as food, water and a litter box. Cats are not going to hunt mice during the winter and need to be fed a quality cat food obtained at any pet, feed or grocery store.

Domestic cows are not feral cattle of the Alaskan Aleutian Islands which have evolved into a survivable species with long hair with an ability to utilize snow successfully for their fluid needs.

Our cows and horses need protection from the elements that is not provided by trees alone, as well as access to water which can be readily available from heated water troughs. They can not survive successfully pawing through snow for the remnants of last summer’s hay crop.

Now is the time to obtain your winter supply of hay which you should have no problem locating given the excellent growing season this past summer.

Contact your local feed or pet store for the name and location of a supplier.

Store the hay on either wood pallets or similar ground base to prevent moisture from seeping into the bottom hay layer. Stack the hay alternatively as you would blocks of wood to a height of about 6/8 feet. Any higher and the stack will become top heavy and tend to fall over…usually in the middle of a snow storm with the hay being ruined. Cover the hay with a quality tarp and tie it down to the pallets. Consider a motion sensored noise device to scare away moose which will come calling for their free meal and create a mess in the process.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals took on the task as overseer of animal welfare decades ago and has an impressive prosecution track record against those who treat animals inhumanely.

A call to their hot line will start an investigation against anyone not providing proper care for their animals, whether they are dogs, cats, rabbits, cows, horses et al. SPCA constables team with the RCMP in an enquiry, tracking the facts quickly to provide the necessary legal tools to rescue mistreated animals.

Rural Crime Watch (RCW) believes all those who care for animals have the best interest of their charges at heart but sometimes just forget. If you can’t afford animals or don’t want to spend the money caring for them, consider finding others who can or contact the SPCA. If you have information regarding animal cruelty, contact the RCMP.

Prepare yourself and animals for a great time in our winter wonderland and if you have questions, contact your feed/pet store staff or RCW at www.ruralcrimewatch.com.

Jon McCormick is with Rural Crime Watch based in 100 Mile House. He writes bi-monthly for the Cariboo Observer.