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What To Do If You Think You See Animal Cruelty

"I'm just trying to bring awareness that animals need more care than sometimes the law allows, or ensures," said Andrea Hines.
JEFFERSON COUNTY, W.Va. - Would you step in if you noticed an animal shivering in the cold? That's the question for a local woman who said a dog in her neighborhood has been left out in the recent frigid temperatures.

She's concerned, after police told her there isn't much they can do in these situations.

"I'm just trying to bring awareness that animals need more care than sometimes the law allows, or ensures," said Andrea Hines.

Andrea Hines lives in a quiet neighborhood in West Virginia, and lately she's been worried for her neighbor's dog, who she said is left out day and night even in this cold snap. 

She called the police with her concerns, but by law, there isn't much they can do in these situations.

"But under law, our job is to enforce the law not to make law, therefore we do not cite people and we do not take the animal away in a case like that," said Sheriff Pete Dougherty of Jefferson County.

West Virginia law says that as long as animals are provided shelter, food and water they're okay.

"We recognize that many people have dog that are outdoor dogs, they don't come into their house, they don’t want to come into houses. So we encourage people to provide some additional bedding so the dog has a place to get in, sort of like for humans getting underneath more covers,” said Sheriff Dougherty. “And we also encourage them to check their water frequently because obviously at this time of the year water will freeze fairly quickly and dogs need to be hydrated. But we also encourage them to feed the dog a little bit more than they would otherwise because in cold weather temperatures you need that extra calorie to sort of maintain yourself."

And Sheriff Dougherty said if anyone witnesses potential animal neglect or cruelty, to call the Sheriff's Office or Animal Control rather than trying to take the animal.

In this case the Sheriff’s Office and Animal Control said they have checked on the dog, and everything appears to be okay.

In the mean time, they want to remind all owners to pay extra attention to your pets in these extreme weather situations.

And while in many of these instances, laws aren't actually being broken, animal lovers are still concerned. To address these types of questions, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office is holding a public meeting Monday evening at 7 p.m. to discuss exactly what Animal Control does, and how to take care of your animals, especially in these winter months.

Officials also want to remind people that fellow humans are equally as important as mans best friend. And warming shelters are opening up this evening, including one at the Asbury United Methodist Church in Charles Town, West Virginia. 
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