When it comes to protecting things in cold weather, you often hear about "the four P's": people, plants, pipes, and pets.

Corpus Christi's Animal Control is reminding the community to take care of their furry family members. If they don't, there could be penalties.

You can get in trouble for leaving your pet outside, even in your own yard. There are laws against leaving your pet to suffer in the cold. Fines and jail time are the worst of the punishments.

Officials with Animal Control said they are responding to social media reports of pets being left out in the freezing cold.

"We have officers right now that are out investigating several issues," said Dr. Melissa Draper, a veterinarian with Animal Control. "We've had people report them to us through social media and things like that. We'll see it. We'll get it forwarded to us and we'll go and investigate."

Draper said officers are aware of most of the problems reported but not always.

"In many cases we may not know about it. We had a case a few weeks ago where there was an incident that had been reported on social media and nobody ever bothered to tell us," Draper said. "For hours."

You can report suspected pet abuse by calling the police or contacting Animal Control.

Draper said your pets can go outside for a short time in the cold but usually need a little extra care.

"If they come back inside and they're cold and wet, they need to be dried off appropriately," Draper said. "It's still cold and wet outside."

Fines can range up to $500 or more and jail time is possible for leaving your pet in the cold.

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