Animal control seeing significant increase in calls for animal neglect during brutal cold

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UPDATE (Nov. 28, 2018) -- Mark Smith was sentenced to 365 days of probation and 25 hours of community service that will be performed at an animal shelter or service provider.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – It seems like we're talking about these stories more and more this winter--dogs being found left in the cold and even some owners facing charges.

Not only are people more aware and spreading the word on social media, there's been a significant increase in the amount of animal neglect cases this year.

Indianapolis Animal Care Services has received more than 1,100 calls from Dec. 1 through Jan. 8. That number was a little less than 700 calls for the same time period last year.

In the last week alone, we've reported on multiple cases of animal neglect.

The most recent case was out of Muncie, where Mark Smith was arrested on neglect charges after leaving his American bulldog in the car for more than two hours. Court documents show it was four degrees in the car and the dog was left with a bowl of water that had frozen. Smith told police he thought the dog would be okay because dogs have a higher body temperature.

"Hypothermia occurs anytime a dog's temperature drops below 98. Now that's fairly normal for our temperatures but their temperatures run higher so anything under 98 degrees in hypothermia," said veterinarian David Fenoglio.

And it doesn't take long for pets to feel the effects of being left out in the cold.

"Five to 10 minutes. Small dogs again. They're fat pads on their feet, they're very insulating for a period of time but after that, they don't work anymore," Fenoglio said.

And for the owners who are held accountable, there are still dogs whose owners are not found. A 2-year-old pitbull was found on Indy's south side over the weekend in the cold with her uterus hanging out of her body. Helping Paws paid for the dog's surgery but now they're putting up a cash reward to find the owner.

If you see a cold animal or suspect neglect or abuse, you can call the Mayor’s Action Center at 317-327-4622.

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