Cold Weather Takes Toll on Homeless, Outdoor Pets

Cold Weather Takes Toll on Homeless, Outdoor Pets

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News Specialist Sandra Yi reportingIt's cold outside, and it's about to get colder. Temperatures tonight will hit single digits, making it the chilliest night of the season. And that can be dangerous for some people.

This has been an unusual winter because just a few days ago, it felt like Spring.

The sudden change is taking a toll on the homeless and our four-legged friends.

More than 800 of the city's homeless will likely stay at The Road Home shelter or the overflow shelter in Midvale tonight.

But advocates know there are more homeless people out there.

"We figure on any given night, there are 80 men who brave the cold and camp out," says Matt Mainkovich with The Road Home.

That's a big concern on a bitter cold day like today. The season's cold snap, though a little late, is finally here.

"We try to get to the problem before it gets serious," says Ed Snoddy with Volunteers of America.

Snoddy drives a homeless outreach van with the Volunteers of America. On a day like today, he'll deliver warm clothes, blankets and other supplies to people left out in the cold.

"You need a sweater? I have a sweater. You want a coat?" he asks.

This afternoon, Snoddy makes a visit to Charlie, a homeless man who lives in an unheated trailer on the city's outskirts.

"It's cold. It's real cold, too. I need more blankets," he says.

The low temperatures can take a toll on the homeless. The cold can also be dangerously chilly for animals left outside.

Advocates say dogs and cats may have started shedding their winter coats early because of the spring-like weather. Now they may have less fur to keep their bodies warm.

"And any animal is certainly at risk for frostbite. Their ears, their noses, their tales," says Temma Martin with Salt Lake County Animal Services.

There are a lot of homeless people who have pets and there are organizations that provide free pet food.

But these advocacy groups need your help and are asking for donations like warm clothing.

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