Photo of dog outside prompts concerns, reminders about pet safety in the cold

San Marcos two dogs_617256

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — A story of a dog chained outside ahead of the coldest night in a year sparked outrage on social media, as well as reminders to keep pets warm as the temperatures drop.

KXAN first learned of the story when a concerned viewer emailed a photo of a dog outside around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. KXAN’s Jim Spencer mentioned it on the evening news, prior to receiving details from the city of San Marcos about the dogs. Spencer also used the opportunity to remind people to keep their pets warm as temperatures dropped overnight. The report sparked major concern and outrage from viewers.

KXAN reached out to San Marcos police, who said on Wednesday morning that the specific dog in question had a shelter and a heater, and that both police and animal control responded to the area and found nothing wrong. San Marcos police said an animal control officer visited the home around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and determined the dog was “well fed” and the shelter it had access to was warm. The city says the tether was not preventing the dog from accessing the house or food, it was just “choosing to be outside of the house.”

“Something to note is that although this may not be the best way to keep a pet, it is not illegal,” said city of San Marcos spokesperson Kristy Stark.

On Wednesday morning, during a follow-up visit from animal control, the owner voluntarily surrendered two dogs because he said he couldn’t afford to keep them. The city of San Marcos says the homeowner did have prior complaints regarding their pets. Stark added, “These animals were not house trained and therefore, kept outside but were well fed and healthy when they were surrendered.”

The dogs won’t be available for adoption for a period of time, but the San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter is currently full with more than 33 dogs waiting for adoption.

Texas law requires animal owners to provide necessary food, water, care or shelter. When the temperature drops, the Austin Animal Services Office says outdoor pets should be brought inside if possible. If they can’t come inside, they should have shelter like a doghouse or shed with blankets or straw inside. If you see an animal you suspect has been left out in the cold and aren’t able to first talk to the owner about it, the Humane Society says you should contact local law enforcement or animal control. In Austin, the recommended first step is to call 311.

Bruno (in the background) was one of the dogs surrendered by the San Marcos homeowner. (City of San Marcos)
Blanca was one of the dogs surrendered by the homeowner in San Marcos. (City of San Marcos)

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