Owners to be charged after dog found frozen to death in Butler County

Temperatures throughout the have been below freezing this week. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

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Temperatures throughout the have been below freezing this week. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

By the end of today a St. Clair Twp. couple will face criminal charges for allegedly letting their healthy dog freeze to death in subzero weather.

And it is not the first time neglect and frigid temperatures have claimed the lives of animals this winter.

“We had at puppy found frozen last week in Middletown. It was in a carrier by a Dumpster,” said Kurt Merbs, Butler County Dog Warden Supervisor. “But chances of getting leads on that are slim.”

FIRST REPORT: Dog found frozen to death in dog house

Not so for the male German shepherd found frozen in its plastic dog house Tuesday on Morganthaler Road, according to Merbs.

“We were the ones who told them their dog was dead,” he said. Humane officers were called to the Henry and Saundra Ensor residence in the 4700 block of Morganthaler shortly after noon Tuesday to check on the welfare of the dog. Merbs said they found the dog in the plastic house with very little straw and his head down in the snow.

The dog was also chained to a tree, and there was another wooden house in the yard that was barely reachable by the dog.

“What really upset me this was there were four bales of straw on his porch,” Merbs said.

There was some indication the dog had been fed and given water in a heated bowl, but no one provided it with adequate shelter. Merbs said there was also indication of some long-term neglect with ear infections and spiders infesting the dog’s fur.

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Both Henry and Saundra Ensor will be charged with cruelty to a companion animal, a first-degree misdemeanor, and are scheduled to be in Hamilton Municipal Court on Jan. 17.

The dog warden provides straw at no cost for bedding in outdoor kennels, and those who cannot care for animals in extreme temperatures can call the dog warden’s office at 513-785-6542 for assistance.

But Merbs said the extreme temperatures the area is experiencing call for companion animals to be brought inside — perhaps in the basement or a heated garage.

“I hear people say the dog has been an outside dog all its life, but we have not had temperatures like this for an extended period of time for years,” Merbs said. He noted dogs, like humans, can suffer frostbite and other cold weather issues quickly.

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If a dog must be left outside, Merbs said it’s important to fill the house with straw and let the dog mash it down around it. Placing a flap over the opening can help, but make sure the dog is not afraid to go in and out, he said.

Temperatures are expected to be below zero and in the single digits through Saturday before rebounding into the 30s.

Residents can report pets left in the cold to the Butler County Sheriff’s Dog Warden at 513-785-1300 or by texting “COPS” to 274637.

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