Local animal activists would love to see every dog and cat warm and indoors this winter, but they know it’s just not possible. For all sorts of reasons, many pet owners keep their furry friends outside.

“We would like all dogs to be inside, but we know not everybody can bring their dogs inside, so we want to help in some way to help keep them warm this winter,” said Tonia Johnson, vice president of the Wythe-Bland Animal Welfare League.

With winter here and the coldest months yet to come, the WBAWL has partnered with Lowe’s and Rural King in Wytheville to provide straw for people in need of bedding/insulation for their dog and/or cat houses.

“We have people call us all the time about how people are taking care of dogs, they are seeing dog houses with no insulation,” Johnson said. “Some people just don’t have the extra funds for little things like that (straw), so the dogs have to suffer. So, we talked to Lowe’s and Rural King to see if there was any way our group could create a voucher that can be mailed to people for two free bales of straw, and then we pay for it.”

Luckily for local fur babies, the two stores agreed.

“The straw insulates the dog house so when it’s cold they can burrow in the straw and keep warm,” Johnson said. “It won’t insulate and keep them warm if it gets soaking wet, so people need to let us know so we can send them another voucher.”

So far, the program has been successful with more than 20 vouchers mailed out within the first 24 hours.

“One person had seven dogs – hunting dogs – outside,” Johnson said. “People are very appreciative, saying it helps keep our babies warm.”

Eventually, WBAWL would like to establish a program that lends dog owners crates so they can bring their animals inside on frigid nights.

“We want to try that, but haven’t done it yet,” Johnson said.

For information or to obtain a voucher, call or text 276-613-3695 or email wbawl123@gmail.com. Also, you can message WBAWL on Facebook. Limit of two bales per voucher.

“We want to help you take care of your pets, which are your family,” Johnson said.

To reach reporter Millie Rothrock, call 276-228-6611, ext. 35, or email mrothrock@wythenews.com.

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