Queens Group Works to Keep Dogs Safe Ahead of Coldest Weather in Years

Storm Team 4 says dangerous wind chills are expected overnight ahead of what may be the coldest weather in 20 years

While local officials are looking out for New Yorkers ahead of what may be the most frigid weather in two decades, groups like the Far Rockaway Rescue Project focus on helping four-legged city residents less equipped to fend for themselves in the extreme cold.

Christine Drakatos, a volunteer with the Queens group, is on a mission to save pups like Bruno, who was found abandoned and tied to a pole near the bay. He had an ulcerated eye and an ear infection, she said.

"These animals are going to suffer and they may die," Drakatos said.

The Far Rockaway Rescue Project has already rescued 15 dogs from freezing temperatures this winter. Storm Team 4 says wind chills Thursday night will be painful and dangerous, making it feel like 35 degrees below zero in spots overnight.

For volunteers like Drakatos, it's not enough to just make sure dogs have shelter. She has to make sure the shelter is warm and dry.

"A rug and a towel and blanket are not good shelter -- a two-by-four and a table are not a good shelter," Drakatos said.

She and the other volunteers give animals hay that they can snuggle into to stay warm and dry. Freezing temperatures also mean the water in a dog's bowl might freeze, she said.

Her group refreshes water bowls, delivers food and straw and works with owners to properly care for their pets during extreme weather like the arctic blast approaching New York. They do welfare checks as well.

The group also patrols neighborhoods caring for stray cats, including one Drakatos found dumped and left to die by its owner on an icy day.

"I live to save, that's it," Drakatos said. "I live to save."

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