SPOKANE, Wash.— Some pet owners have a common misconception when it comes to leaving their pets outside in the cold: they can withstand it.

Lincoln Heights Veterinary Clinic Veterinarian Dr. Alex McCormick said our pets are more like us than we think.

"Different cold tolerances for dogs are similar to how they are for humans, so depending on their activity level, their coach, their age, they are body fat storage, that all makes a difference,” said McCormick.

Dr. McCormick said there are some dogs that like the snow and want to be out there. Those dogs do have thicker coats, but that doesn't mean they are immune to frostbite or hypothermia.

Spokane Regional Animal Protection Service officials said there are consequences for pet owners who leave their animals in the cold.

Pet owners could be fined anywhere from a $257 civil infraction to a misdemeanor which could mean up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. It could even mean a felony which could be a year in prison and a $5,000 fine, reports said.

Dr. McCormick said that if pet owners don't have a choice in when it comes to leaving pets outside for a long period of time to use a shelter. McCormick said shelters should be lifted off the ground so that the cold can't get in as easily.

If people don't have a shelter or dog house SCRAPS will give you a free shelter if people drop in. If people have a new or used shelter you no longer need, SCRAPS will also accept the donation to give to others in need.