TRIUMPHS: A friend of the animals
October 17, 2006
NAME: Pam Porteous
ANIMAL HERO: Porteous, an animal rescuer from West Bloomfield, is a top 10 finalist for the Hero of the Year Award that’s given by the cable TV network Animal Planet. “I was quite proud to be nominated. There were thousands of people nominated, so I was pretty surprised when they called. First I was in the top 20, now I’m top 10. It makes you feel pretty good. It’s just nice that people think that what we’re doing is good.” In 1999, the Michigan Federation of Humane Societies named Porteous the Humanitarian of the Year.
REAL VICTORY: While winning the Animal Planet contest and its trip to Hawaii and $10,000 charity donation would be great, it’s the improvements Porteous has seen in animal treatment, the increases in spaying and neutering, the drop in unwanted litters of kittens and puppies that really matter to her.
WHAT SHE DOES: For 15 years Porteous has worked with the Animal Care Network, a grassroots organization made up of teams of volunteers from the Michigan Animal Adoption Network. Every weekend, the teams comb neighborhoods in Pontiac and Inkster in search of neglected or needy animals, mostly forgotten backyard pets. With panel trucks filled with supplies — from straw and doghouses to food, leashes, treats and medicine for infected fly bites — the volunteers assist the owners in exchange for a promise that they’ll have their pets sterilized at no or almost no cost. They also educate pet owners about proper care. The group also separately hosts low- or no-cost spay and neuter clinics as well as free vaccination days. Last weekend, 800 dogs and cats were vaccinated at a free clinic. Porteous, an administrative assistant who was laid off by General Mills in May, is in charge of the Pontiac operation. It’s a part-time job. She spends the rest of her 80-hour week volunteering.
SNOW RESCUE: Porteous always cared about animals, as did her parents, but she didn’t start her crusade until 1991 when she and a group of volunteers from the Michigan Animal Rescue League went out on a bitter cold day to look for hungry, cold or homeless animals. They rescued a puppy from a snowbank that day. After that she knew she had to help. “That was the first puppy I rescued and I never looked back,” she said.
THE NOMINATION: In a letter published on the Animal Planet Web site, Hanna Gibson, a San Diego law student who was previously Porteous’ assistant, described Porteous. She “adopted the town of Pontiac, Mich., 15 years ago.” She “developed the most innovative urban community outreach program in America, to ensure that every animal has a chance to live a healthy and happy life. Hers is a holistic and highly interactive approach to animal welfare; she personally visits any home with animals to ensure each family is taken care of so that the animal will be, too. She has conducted over 50,589 visits to homes in Pontiac to ensure animals are not being abused, neglected or fought. … She has rescued 9,331, sterilized 3,028 and vaccinated 12,039 animals for low/no cost. Any and all call her whenever they or an animal needs help.”
By Kim North Shine