Animals not safe outside, says Saskatoon SPCA

As temperatures dip into the –30s, Saskatoon's SPCA has seen an increase in the number of calls about dogs and cats left in the cold.

Residents encouraged to check cars for strays seeking shelter

Kate Matthews tweeted this photo of a cat she rescued in Saskatoon, during an extreme cold snap. She and musician Earl Pereira are urging people to watch for strays, and bring them indoors. (Twitter: @_kate_matthews )
A prominent Saskatoon musician is warning people to watch for stray pets in the cold. 
Earl Pereira said "Charlie", the kitten, had frostbitten paws and ear mites, and likely would have died in the cold had Pereira's wife not spotted him. (Credit: Earl Pereira)

Bassist Earl Pereira is best known as one of the founders of Wide Mouth Mason, and now is a lead vocalist with The Steadies. He's also an avid animal lover, who's taken in several strays over the years.

He remembered the temperature was roughly –40C five years ago when he and Kate Matthews spotted a pair of eyes cowering under a parked car across the street. 

"She dropped everything, we ran outside, and the kitten came to her right away," said Pereira. "He had a hard time moving. His feet were frozen to the ground, and he was in bad shape."

Cats often seek heat under vehicles

Pereira and Matthews brought the frozen kitten to a veterinarian, posted photos of him online, and searched for his owner. After no one responded, they kept "Charlie".

Cat "Charlie" lucky to be rescued as frostbitten kitten

5 years ago
Charlie the cat had frostbitten paws when he was rescued by a Saskatoon couple. 0:30
With more arctic air settling over Saskatchewan, they urge anyone who sees a stray cat or dog outside to take the animal inside, and call the SPCA, whose emergency on-call staff will respond 24 hours a day.
"We have seen quite an increase in the calls reporting animals that are outside without adequate shelter," said Tricia McAuley, who works at the Saskatoon SPCA. "When we're having extreme weather like this, there's no doghouse that's adequate." (CBC/Chanss Lagaden)

"If it's too cold for you, it's too cold for them," said Tricia McAuley, who works for the Saskatoon Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "Please do keep them inside." 

McAuley said animals searching for heat will crawl up into the engine blocks of parked vehicles, noting several cases where cats have inadvertently hitched rides to Saskatoon from Prince Albert and Regina.

"[The drivers] didn't realize anything was wrong until they heard mewing," said McAuley, who advised motorists to bang on their engine block before starting the ignition, to scare out furry hitchhikers.

Saskatoon SPCA staff say "Ruby", a three-month-old kitten, was found by a postal worker during an extremely cold day in December. The cat was treated at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine for hypothermia, frostbitten ears and paws, and she may have a fractured jaw. (CBC\Chanss Lagaden)

Increasing numbers at Saskatoon shelter

McAuley said the Saskatoon SPCA has seen "quite an increase" in calls reporting animals outside without adequate shelter.
This cat, nicknamed "Ashes", hid in the engine block of a pickup truck on December 23. The driver of the truck heard a thump, discovered the cat, and drove two hours to deliver the cat to the Saskatoon SPCA. The cat's leg was fractured, and had to be amputated.

"We had almost four thousand animals come in in 2016," said McAuley, who said she's never seen the shelter busier. "It was pretty crazy and many of them had special needs and required special medical attention."

McAuley said even Huskies and Malamutes can freeze outside right now.

"If they're working dogs, get them inside the barn," she said. "It's very, very cold. It's sensitive for their ears and for their paws."