AUSTIN (KXAN) — With a drastic cold front headed to Central Texas, Austin Pets Alive! is asking for emergency help from the community before temperatures drop.

APA! said some animal enclosures are exposed to the elements, and low temperatures severely strain the facility at its Town Lake Animal Center shelter.

The shelter is hoping to get pets from that location into warm beds by Thursday. Here’s how you can help:

Foster cold shelter animals. APA! said it needs its animals, especially dogs, out of the shelters before the coldest weather hits Thursday. If you’re staying in the Austin area during the Christmas weekend and want to foster, email foster@austinpetsalive.org or go to the Town Lake Animal Center location (1156 W Cesar Chavez St.) between noon and 6 p.m. to foster. APA! is asking that if you foster, the pets in your home until at least Monday, December 26th.

Donate money or supplies. APA! is seeking monetary and supply donations to handle the emergency weather. Click here to donate. The following items are also needed and can be dropped off to the Town Lake location or two-day shipped:

Blankets
Medium and large dog coats
Moving blankets
Tarps
Waterproof/self-warming dog blankets
Self-warming heating pads
Space heaters
Heat lamps

Some of these items will be sent to the neighboring shelters as well.

Other help for shelters APA! supports:

The City of Devine Animal Shelter needs an adopter or foster for the animals here, especially puppies.

San Benito needs and adopter or foster for a cat and their dogs here

What to do to protect pets in cold weather

Bring pets inside. While some breeds of dogs are more tolerant of cold weather than others, no pet should be left outside for long periods of time when it is below freezing (32ºF). 

Check your car for cats. Feline friends like to hide from this weather in car engines and/or wheel wells, so thump the hood of your car a few times and check your wheels for stowaways before you start the engine and take off.

Provide a makeshift enclosure for outdoor animals. A closed box or Rubbermaid bin with a cut out in the side, with towels or blankets, will help keep them safe in the frigid temperatures. Click here for example directions for cat shelters from Alley Cat Advocates and click here for more on what to do for dogs in the cold. Or consider opening your garage slightly (and leaving a heating pad or heat lamp on) to let cats in from the cold.

Put a sweater on your pup. If you have a dog with a short coat, you can keep them a bit more insulated by putting a sweater or dog coat on them. Be sure the sweater and coat are completely dry for each outing.

Check paws. After outdoor activity, check your pet’s paws for any signs of cracking on the paw pads, redness between toes, or bleeding. Wipe them down after each outing, too, to remove any salt, ice, or chemicals.

For city information about cold weather shelters and warming centers, visit www.austintexas.gov/alerts.

Need help with a community pet? Visit the P.A.S.S. Facebook group. P.A.S.S. connects you to community member support for emergency pet food, pet resource assistance, and other emergency pet help.