KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City's Animal Health and Public Safety Department on Tuesday handled an influx of calls of animals reportedly left in the cold.
For special investigator Eron Dawkins, time is of the essence with each call.
"You'd be surprised of the amount of people that are just not aware. When we go out and educate them, a lot of them change their practices around for the better," Dawkins said.
41 Action News rode along with Dawkins Tuesday as he responded to calls, including one at a home in the area of 45th Street and The Paseo.
Two apparently healthy dogs were found at the location. As Dawkins tried to reach the owner, he replaced the dogs' water, which had been frozen solid in the 20-degree weather.
"Looking at the conditions, the animals are not in any current imminent danger," Dawkins said.
The owner of the dogs eventually spoke with him, and Dawkins determined the animals were safe.
"She has two very nice kennels on her porch to keep them inside overnight, so that way they're not out here when it's freezing," Dawkins said.
Dr. Ryan Bragg at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Overland Park said frostbite injuries are prevalent for pets of any breed in the extreme cold.
Over the next couple of days, owners should brush ice off their pets' paws and look for signs of hypothermia.
"They will start acting more lethargic. They can develop (gastrointestinal) signs, they are usually cool to the touch," Bragg said.
On Wednesday, KCMO Animal Health and Public Safety will put two special investigators in the field to help specifically with cold-weather calls.
"We don't have time to waste, we've got to get to the scene as quickly as possible and do whatever we can to help that pet," said John Baccala, a spokesman for KCMO Neighborhoods and Housing Services. "It doesn't do us any good to impound pets, but we will if there's no other alternative to get them out of those conditions."
KCMO's Animal Health and Public Safety response to calls is complaint-driven.Residents can call 311 to report a complaint, and outside business hours, they can call KCPD's non-emergency line at 816-234-5111.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the city had received more than 70 animal cruelty calls. Baccala asked residents to be patient as the city responded to them.