As the forecast for this weekend shows cold temperatures and high winds, we would like to remind our readers that outside pets need to be protected during winter months.

Make sure outside animals have access to shelter and unfrozen water at all times during winter months. If possible during extreme cold, allow pets inside the home or a heated garage or shed area. Provide blankets — or hay for agriculture animals or horses — and make sure the animal knows where their food, water and shelter are located.

One might believe these are common sense, but we’ve all seen pets outside in extreme conditions. We’ve all heard stories of abuse like the one we recently had in our newspaper about a malnourished dog. We know not all pet owners do the right thing.

Animals are part of the family for most people who have them. We wouldn’t place our children outside with little food, no water and no warm clothing, so why would any pet owner put their dog or cat outside and then forget about them?

Yes, most pets have fur, but that doesn’t protect them from cold temperatures and high winds.

This weekend is the annual walk for pit bulls. Most pit bulls are loving, caring animals. Most pit bull owners hate the stigma the breed has and follows the rules for owning one in Dodge City.

The more people can learn about their pets, the more respect and love they will have for them. When weather turns ugly, make sure the furry members of the family are protected.

We don’t need anymore loose, malnourished pets roaming our streets. We need to acknowledge the unconditional love a pet has for its owner and return that love by protecting our pets from harsh elements.

Winter nears. Let’s all protect family members from its harsh conditions.