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Pets being left to freeze, shelters say

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Pets need extra help in the frigid weather, reports WCCO. Just because they come with "coats," doesn't mean they can stay warm in subzero temperatures. Veterinarians say animals are extremely vulnerable in this weather.

"A really good gauge of how long they should be outside is how long you are comfortable being outside," said Melanie Sharpe, a veterinarian at Mission Animal Hospital in Minnetonka.

You can tell if an animal is too cold by looking at it.

"A lot of times animals will try to make themselves as small as possible to conserve heat, so being hunched down and shivering, head down, are signs that an animal is cold," said Dr. Sharpe.

She suggests putting your hand on the ground for five seconds.If it's too cold for you, it’s too cold for a pets' paws.

Pet shelters report dozens of calls in the past freezing week about animals left outside.

On Friday morning, a delivery man found two dogs who had been left outside a Twin Cities business overnight. They are now in the care of Brooklyn Park police.

Channel 12 has the story of "Norah," a short-haired dog found tied to a bus bench in Minneapolis New Year's Eve when the temperature was minus 10.

"She was shivering, of course, but frostbite hadn't set in," said Maura Nelson of Secondhand Hounds, a Minnetonka-based rescue group that got the call about the dog. "By morning, she would have frozen."

Thanks to the Good Samaritan who found her and the shelter, Norah is now living with a foster family.

The Associated Press reports the Minnesota Zoo will be closed Monday. Zoo Director Lee Ehmke says the decision was made not so much to protect the animals as the people who might come see them.

St. Paul's Como Zoo and Conservatory will be open those days with reduced staffing. Indoor and outdoor St. Paul parks and recreation programming has been canceled Sunday and Monday, including skating rinks and warming houses. St. Paul recreation centers also will be open.

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