Protect your pets – Keep dogs inside from freezing cold
By CAROL HOPKINS Of The Oakland Press
Pam Porteous has found 18 dogs or puppies that froze to death in Pontiac since Dec. 1.
“We get upset,” said Porteous, a West Bloomfield Township woman who is the manager of the Animal Care Network, which assists people in Pontiac with food and care for their pets.
With forecasts calling for subzero temperatures this week, Porteous and her crew of volunteers have been busy responding to calls for straw and dog food. “We get 100 calls a day in this weather,” Porteous said. She stressed that pet owners need to protect animals kept outdoors.
“We tell people to try and bring their dogs in when it’s 30 degrees or below.”
In Pontiac, she said, the majority of dogs she sees are pit bulls.
“They’re short-coated dogs and they can’t handle this weather.”
On Wednesday, Porteous and two volunteers, John Kennedy and Melissia Kent, made more than 20 stops around Pontiac to drop off clean straw and food.
At the first house, a cream-and-white-colored pit bull named Congo tugged at his doghouse chain and barked a greeting.
The dog’s owner, Domain Jefferson, came outdoors and held the dog back as Kent pulled a wadded-up winter jacket from inside Congo’s doghouse.
“Blankets and things like this freeze,” Porteous said to Jefferson. “It’s like laying on ice packs.”
Two dogs barked inside the house. Jefferson said all his dogs stay indoors when the weather is frigid.
Kennedy and Kent stuffed straw into the three doghouses in the yard, and poured dog food into Congo’s bowl. The dog gobbled up the food.
Porteous said the straw will last a week to 10 days.
At the next house, Mimi, a pit bull, and Gigi, a Labrador-chow mix, barked at the volunteers.
“Rob, your dogs have great weight on them,” said Pam to the dogs’ owner, Rob Antwine.
Antwine smiled. “Thanks to the Animal Care Network. They are a great help to the community.”
Antwine said he brought the dogs indoors Tuesday night.
“They go in the basement when it’s extremely cold,” he said.
When told of the 18 dead dogs this year, Antwine shook his head.
“It’s horrible,” he said. “People should maintain their pets. They’re like family members and you should treat them as children. People should be prosecuted to the full extent.”
A neighbor, Jeff Turner, stopped Porteous and talked. She gave him worm medicine for his kitten and pet food for his dog.
At a third stop, outdoor dogs Tip and Mr. Big were fed and given straw. Then homeowners asked that Porteous take a lively 3-month-old puppy named Chico off their hands.
Keeta Burrow, the pup’s owner, said they got the dog from a relative who “was going to put it on the street,” said Burrow, who described herself as an animal lover.
“We took it and thought maybe Pam can find a home for it.”
Kent volunteered to repay Porteous for her help and assistance with her own pit bulls.
“I was going to breed them, but Pam read me the riot act, so I had them neutered,” said Kent of Sterling Heights. “Pam said she might wind up rescuing the dogs later.”
Porteous, who does receive gasoline reimbursement for her work, admitted she knows every street in Pontiac from her years of working with pets.
“I know it like the back of my hand,” she said, matter-of-factly. “I also know everyone’s name on our lists and their dogs’ names.” She said she has stuck with the program over many years because it’s unique. “And I’m good at it,” she said. “It’s worth it.” Chico, the collie-cattle dog mix, squirmed in her arms. She said, “And it makes us feel good to pick up an animal like this.”
Animal Care Network teams venture into neighborhoods in search of animals in need. Services include low-cost shot clinics, free doghouses, free delivery of straw, assistance with dog and cat food, assistance with bowls and collars and checking for abandoned animals. To request assistance from or to donate to the Animal Care Network, call (248) 678-2755 or visit www.mi-aan.org .