Take Caution with Pets in Cold Weather

A Message from the Massachusetts State Police Facebook page

During the warm months we share warnings about keeping pets in hot cars. But cold weather — like the weather we are going to experience over the next three days — can be just as dangerous. Please take a look at the below chart and make smart decisions about your pets. Dogs left in a car in very cold temperatures are at risk. Anyone who sees a dog in a freezing car is urged to call police, as first responders (and, under certain specific conditions, private citizens) can make entry into the car to rescue the animal if efforts to locate the owner are unsuccessful. ALSO, please note that a state law passed in 2016 prohibits a person from leaving a dog outside for more than 15 minutes when a weather advisory, warning, or watch is issued, OR when heat, cold, wind, rain or snow are severe enough to risk the health or safety of the dog. Members of the public are encouraged to call their local police department to report pets left outdoors in extreme weather. Thank you!

Click on Chart Below for Temperature Danger Chart

Pet Safety Cold Weather Tips


Winter temperatures can plummet hourly and pets should be kept safe from the effects of these frigid conditions. Below are several tips to keep your pet warm and away from harm this season.

   Keep your pets warm and indoors. As always cats should stay inside. Since cats left outdoors may stay warm in car wheel wells or under hoods, you should awake any sleeping animals by wrapping on   your car hood before starting the engine.

Trips outside should remain short during the winter months. While dogs need outdoor exercise, lengthy walks can prove harmful especially when wind chill is a factor.

Dogs should remain leashed and supervised when outdoors throughout the year. However in the winter do not bring them near bodies of water even if they appear frozen.

Shorthaired dogs such as Greyhounds, Beagles, Chihuahuas and clipped breeds should be dressed in protective clothing.

Wipe off your dog’s foot pads and stomach fur after returning from the outdoors.

Outdoor shelters for pets should be dry, secure from wind and only large enough for them to stand up, turn around and lie down. The shelter floor should also be elevated from ground level and have dry bedding. A steady water supply should be provided in plastic bowls and checked on so that it does not freeze.

Pets that spend a greater amount of time outdoors also require more food.

Antifreeze products containing ethylene glycol are highly toxic and can produce life-threatening kidney damage, even in small amounts. Many windshield washer products contain methanol, which if ingested can cause drooling, vomiting, drunkenness and severe central nervous system depression.

Ice melt products may contain ingredients that can be very irritating to the skin and gastrointestinal tract, and could also potentially result in more severe effects including depression, weakness, disorientation, low blood pressure, cardiac problems, seizures, coma and even death depending on the type of ice melt and circumstances of exposure.

Pet First Aid ? Yeah there is an app for that !

the American Red Cross has a new app that every pet owner needs

The Pet First Aid App puts expert veterinary advice in the palm of your hand. Get the app and be prepared to act when called upon. With videos, interactive quizzes and simple step-by-step advice it’s never been easier to know Pet First Aid. rco_blog_img_petfirstaid

Other features include:

  • Convenient toggle between cat and dog content.
  • Simple step-by-step instructions guide you through everyday emergencies in the palm of your hand.
  • Prepare and protect your pet’s health with advice on administering medication, time to say goodbye, behavioral help and how to act in a disaster situation.
  • Early warning sign checker for preventive care.
  • Programmable veterinary contact number to be available when needed throughout the app.
  • Learn first aid steps for over 25 common pet situations through a combination of text, video and images, in addition to identifying common toxic substances.
  • Locate your nearest emergency vet hospital or pet-friendly hotels.
  • Respond to pet emergencies with “how to” videos for the common and stressful emergency situations inclusive of size specific CPR techniques.
  • Customize multiple pet profiles and set veterinary appointments.
  • Interactive quizzes allow you to earn badges that you can share with your friends along with a picture of your pet.

Celebrating the passgae of Senate Bill 1172 which requires municipalities to include pets in their disaster plan!

S.M.A.R.T. helps celebrate the passage of Senate Bill 1172, an Act to ensure the safety of people with Pets in Disasters at the state house on June 4,2014.    S.1172 requires municipalities to include pets in their disaster planning, thereby protecting both pets and people. A sincere Thank you goes  Senator Karen Spilka, the sponsor of the bill, as well as to the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in helping to get this bill passed.

SB1172-2 SB1172-3 SB1172-1

CORI checks now required for all members

During the sign up with SMART all members agree to get a CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) check done. This is standard procedure for most volunteer organizations. Until recently SMART has not been able to fund the CORI checks. Now thanks to assistance from the statewide MA Responds program we are able to have the cost of the CORI checks covered. For directions on signing into the MA Responds website and getting a CORI form ready to print and mail to Boston please refer to the directions here SMART admin will follow our members who have signed onto MA Responds and update the SMART database as CORI form clearance is documented for our members. Please help SMART by getting this task done ASAP.

New Members

The new SMART online application is getting the kinks worked out. We have twenty new members that have joined SMART using the online application! The online application is a great resource for SMART and getting new members information and certificates into the database takes a fraction of the time it took in prior years. Our member and IT guru Frank Taylor continues to donate many hours a month to maintaining the SMART database.

Hurricane Preparation

As Hurricane Season Starts, Households in Coastal States Urged to Include Pets in Disaster Plans

With predictions for an active hurricane season this year, community leaders and residents in East Coast and Gulf Coast states should keep pets in mind when planning for natural disasters. People can take some simple – but critical – steps to keep their pets safe and healthy in severe weather and possible evacuations.

Legislators can help by sharing this information with local officials and including this information in Facebook posts, releases, newsletters and other avenues information is distributed to constituents.

The most important thing to remember when preparing for severe weather is, if it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for your pets. Whether you shelter-in-place or evacuate, people should be prepared to keep your pets with you and make sure you have adequate supplies. AccuWeather forecasters predict an active and strong hurricane season from June to November, with the potential for three named storms to make landfall in the U.S. Pet owners can reduce their animals’ chances of being at risk during a disaster by following the suggestions below.

Things you can do right now:    

  • Put a collar with visible identification on your pets, including indoor-only pets.
  • Make sure your pets are up to date on vaccinations.
  • Keep pictures of your pets on hand for identification purposes. Ideally, you should also be in the photo.
  • Create a pet emergency kit (see below) and refresh the items every few months.
  • Talk to your neighbors about how they can help your pets if you are not at home when disaster strikes. Make a list of boarding facilities inland and know their vaccinations requirements.
  • Create a list of hotels that allow pets. Plan on evacuating about 100 miles inland.
  • Contact your city or town to see what plans they have in place for your locality.

Pet emergency kits should include: 

  • Minimum of a three-day supply of food in airtight, waterproof containers and drinking water.
  • Bowls for food and water.
  • Current photos and physical description of your pets, including details on markings.
  • Medications, vaccination records and first aid pet supplies. Name and number for your veterinarian.
  • Comfort items such as a toy and blanket.
  • Small garbage bags.
  • For small dogs include: a sturdy carrier large enough to use as a sleeping area and a leash and collar.
  • For large dogs include: a collar and leash.
  • For cats include: litter and litter box and a sturdy carrier large enough for transport and for your cat to use as a temporary “apartment” for several days.
  • For horses include: Coggins tests, veterinary papers, identification photographs and vital information such as medical history and emergency phone numbers.


For more information, visit: www.hsus.org/disaster, www.smart-ma.org (State of Massachusetts Animal Response Team) and www.mspca.org/disaster.

Meet our New SMART Board Member!

The SMART board is happy to welcome our newest board member, Ed Carlson.  Ed joined us and hit the ground running as if he had always been on the board!  He is a wonderful addition to the team and we are thrilled to have him!

ed smart

Ed has held multiple positions, over the past 13 years, with the IVG Network of Hospitals; Veterinary Technician in Internal Medicine, Emergency Critical Care, and General Practice, Hospital Manager,  Head Technician, and Technician Supervisor. He is currently the Technician Learning and Development Specialist for IVG Hospitals working to provide internal training programs, internal and external continuing education.  Ed is active in the Massachusetts Veterinary Technician Association, serving on the Executive Committee as the MVTA Treasurer. He and his partner Walker own and operate a small hobby farm where they breed and raise registered Dexter Cattle.

Disaster training at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

During the week of April 8, 2013, the Tufts Shelter Medicine Program at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine provided a week long course covering Emergency Response and Disaster Medicine. Instructors included representatives from the State of Massachusetts Animal Response Team (SMART), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), MSPCA, ASPCA, MVMA and Tufts faculty. The course featured an introduction to the incident command system, animal sheltering in disasters, large animal rescue and emergency medicine in disasters as well as recent man-made and natural disasters such as the Midwest flooding and a variety of cruelty response cases.  The course concluded with a table top drill to test the students’ abilities.  One day of the course included the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association’s program on Veterinary Practice Continuity, Planning and Recovery.  We, at SMART, look forward to seeing these new veterinarians join us as capable trained volunteers available when the need arises.

ASPCA “Keep them Safe” Campaign and Free Safety Pack

The ASPCA has a great source of information titled “What would happen to your pet in an emergency?” Preparation and planning is an important aspect in keeping you and your family safe in the event of an emergency. Your Pets are your family too and including them in your preparedness plan is a must. Check out this great resource, and sign up to be on their email update list. They will send you a free Pet Safety Pack for your pets. Click the link below to get more information and your free safety pack !
ASPCA: What would happen to your pet in an emergency Safety Pack