GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- It's easy for us to warm up after an evening out in the cold, but for pets, they depend on their owners to keep them safe.
Tuesday, Jill Johnson went before a judge after being convicted on animal cruelty charges. For Mesa County Animal Services, it's just one of many cases they see this time of year: an animal is left out in the cold without access to food and water, and it dies from exposure.
"I would take a bullet in a major organ for my dogs. They mean the world to us," dog lover Becky Williams said. "There is a special corner in hell for people who are ornery to animals and don't take care of them and keep them in with them, and it's very important to keep them warm with you."
According to experts, taking the steps to prevent animal abuse aren't difficult at all.
"This is Grand Junction; the nights are getting colder. These are our little family pets, and they depend on us to take care of them," said Dr. Aimee Johnson, who owns Creature Comforts Animal Hospital.
Johnson said if your pets are sleeping outside this winter, make sure they are in an insulated structure of some kind.
"It needs to have four sides and a roof and a floor. It needs to be up off the ground ideally because the other thing that happens. If they are laying directly on the ground, that ground literally sucks the heat from them," Johnson said.
Johnson also said food is more important than ever for your pets during the colder months.
"Food generates energy," said Johnson. "They need energy to generate heat, so if your animals don't have access to food in the winter, you'll find especially outdoor dogs and cats are going to eat more, and they're trying to keep themselves warm."
Some dogs can insulate themselves from the cold, but the wind can still be a problem, so if you have to leave your pet outside, make sure it has plenty of water and that water isn't frozen, because staying hydrated is what helps circulate the animal's blood.
Local vets said if the sun isn't out, you should bring your pet inside if it's anything below 35 degrees outside.