Your jerk neighbor left their dog tied up outside and it's freezing. Who do you call?

Katie Wiseman
Indianapolis Star
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Sub-zero temperatures are potentially making their way into Indiana over the next week, so let's take a minute to talk about animal safety. If you see a cat roaming around in the freezing cold, should you call someone? If your neighbor left their dog tied up outside, can you report it? We've got the answers.

Residents who are concerned about the safety of an animal in their neighborhood can submit a request for an Animal Care officer to investigate by submitting a complaint on Request Indy's website or mobile phone app.

Animal Care officers investigate:

  • Animal attacks
  • Abuse
  • Neglect
  • Injured animals
  • Loose dogs
  • Nuisance complaints (i.e. barking dogs)

How can you tell if a dog has been outside in the cold too long?

"Residents can look for dogs that are picking up their paws, shivering, and other signs that the pet may be cold," Roxie Randall, public information officer for Animal Care Services, said.

While it can be hard to put an exact time limit on how long is too long for a dog to be out in temperatures below freezing, Randall said a good rule of thumb is to think of how long it would take the pet to use the bathroom, so typically 10 to 15 minutes, and they should not be outside much longer than that.

"Some of the fluffier hardier breeds may stay out longer and be OK, but should not be out for anything over 30 minutes," Randall said.

What do I do if I see cats outside in the cold?

Many community cats in Indianapolis may already be taken care of or have shelter. Cats may still wander, even when it is snowy and cold. However, if you think the cat may be in danger, you can contact Indy Neighborhood Cats or file a report with Request Indy.

Indy Neighborhood Cats can be reached at 317-386-6916 or Residents can also check out their Facebook page for advice and recommendations for feeding and providing water to them when it is freezing. They also have a guide on how to build winter cat shelters.

Tips from their recent Facebook post include:

  • Leave fresh water out as frequently as possible, multiple times a day.
  • Placing a ping pong ball in the water bowl helps it not freeze as quickly.
  • Do not put food in shelters as that deters the cats from sleeping inside them.
  • Cats will shelter in place until they need food/water when there is wind and cold, this is normal behavior.

How do I report an animal that is outside in the cold temperatures?

Request Indy is the preferred method of reporting these complaints, however, the Mayor's Action Center also has representatives available to take calls 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and can be reached at 317-327-4622.

Residents also can call the non-emergency Indianapolis police department number at 317-327-3811. Do not call 911.

Do not report animal complaints or concerns via social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.), email, or by calling the Animal Care Services shelter.

Complaints reported using Request Indy or the Mayor's Action Center are automatically entered into the system for Animal Care officers to investigate, making sure your request gets where it needs to go and the report is handled quickly, according to the city.

"The Request Indy Website and Mobile App adds the reports directly to our Officer’s list of reports, and is the quickest way," Randall said.

Here's how to submit an animal complaint with Request Indy:

  1. Go to If you already have an account, you can login. Otherwise you can hit register to create one or continue as a guest. Registered users can access service request history more quickly.
  2. On the desktop version, when the next screen pops up you will want to hold your cursor over the "Request" section of the screen then while still hovering, place your cursor over the request type (in this case, Animal Care Report) then click on it. On the mobile version, you will select request and then be prompted to select which type.
  3. On the location screen you will see a large map. You will then enter in the address where the endangered animal is located in the box on the top left hand corner of the screen that says "Where is the service location?" Then you'll hit next.
  4. On the details screen, you will then select from the dropdown box to answer "What is the nature of your request?" For reporting an animal left out in the cold, you will select "I would like to report an animal in danger."
  5. Once you have made that selection, more questions will appear. It will ask for a description of the animal, where it is located on the property, if they are chained/tethered up, if you know who is responsible for the animal, if the animal is is in immediate danger of death and any other information that will be helpful to the Animal Control Officer.
  6. Once you have answered all those questions and any other follow up ones that appear based on your answers, it takes you to the contact screen where you can input your information to be updated about the request. You can report anonymously, however, if you answer yes to knowing who is responsible for the animal on the details screen, it will require you to provide your contact information. Then hit next.
  7. It will then ask you to review your report as a whole. If you have entered in the location, details and contact information required and it all looks correct, you are then able to hit the submit button at the bottom of the screen.

Katie Wiseman is a trending and breaking news intern at IndyStar. Contact her at Follow her on Twitter @itskatiewiseman.

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