AN animal lover is warning people in South Tyneside not to let their pets freeze this winter.
Maria Harrison has already been alerted of one case where a rabbit froze to death.
Now, the founder of Willows Cat Adoption Centre in Wantage Street, South Shields, is urging others to take their animals indoors for the rest of the cold snap.
She said: “I heard from a lady on Monday, who was devastated her rabbit had frozen to death in its cage, along with its food.
“I think a lot of people forget about rabbits and guinea pigs, left outside in their hutches. They just expect them to keep warm, but that isn’t always the case.
“In the wild, rabbits dig down deep in burrows and will have others to share body heat with, but when they’re just by themselves, they can’t do that.”
Maria wants people, if possible, to bring their animals indoors and place them in their conservatories, kitchens or utility rooms.
They needn’t bring the cage inside but instead use cardboard boxes lined with plastic and newspapers.
She said: “Rabbits are very easily house-trained and will use a litter tray after a couple of weeks.
“If they can’t be moved, then their huts should be packed with hay and paper and lined with old pieces of carpet.”
Maria, who has five rabbits needing a new home, hopes more deaths will be avoided if people follow her advice.
She said: “The rabbits I have now are all house-trained, they are almost like cats and will sit on your knee.
“If we can prevent even just one more unnecessary death this winter, then this will have been worthwhile.”
Anyone who needs free advice can call Maria on all 536 6221 or 07719 605 383.