Pets freezing – December 12, 2009

Animal advocates respond to pets freezing in cold

By JERRY WOLFFE Of The Oakland Press
Dec 12, 2009

The discovery of an ailing Rottweiler and dying pit bull on Pontiac’s south side in freezing weather has touched a nerve in the community with organizations coming together to try and save pets this winter.

Pam Porteous of the Animal Care Network, a Pontiac nonprofit that provides care, straw and dog houses to animal owners, says: “We’ve been finding dead dogs and dying cats.”

One of the most recent incidents was Wednesday when the animal care group went to a home on Fisher Street and found a pit bull frozen to a puddle, and Rottweiler nearly dead. The team rushed the animals from the home to a veterinary clinic.

The pit bull died of hypothermia and the Rottweiler is in serious condi- tion in a foster care home fighting for its life, said Porteous.

A cat was found alive but freezing on Whitfield Street Thursday and died while Porteous held it as it was being rushed to a clinic.

The dogs found on Fisher Street “were left outside and had not eaten in weeks,” she said.

“The pit bull was lying in an ice-frozen puddle with its body stuck to the ground. His eyes were still moving. He weighed 20 pounds and should have weighed at least 60.”

A female Rottweiler was found near the pit bull in the same yard, near a doghouse that was broken in half.

“There was nothing to cover her and the night before it had rained and snowed,” Porteous said.

“Each time someone at that home on Fisher pulled into the driveway they had to see those dogs suffering,” she added. “They were right in front of their faces. They could have put the doghouse back together, but they did nothing to help those dogs.”

Mistreatment of an animal can be a misdemeanor, depending upon the extent of the abuse, said Pontiac Police Capt. Robert Miller. The case of the two dogs has been reported to the city’s Animal Control office and was being investigated for any criminal wrongdoing.

However, the laws are seldom enforced because there is only one worker at Animal Control in Pontiac.

“Seventy percent of the people in Pontiac leave their dogs out all of the time,” said Amy Wettlaufer, an adoption counselor at the Michigan Animal Rescue League of Pontiac

“I think we need to enforce animal ordinances,” she added. “We need to stress to people if they can’t take care of a pet, to bring it to a shelter or we will come and pick them up.”

If the animal is able to be nursed back to health, it can be adopted.

“We try and find them homes,” Wettlaufer said, but sometimes it is too late.

“People have got to provide adequately if they have an animal,” said Porteous. “That means food, shelter, water and veterinary care.”

Wettlaufer agreed.

Pet owners also should not leave a cat or dog outside when temperatures fall below freezing, she said.

If a dog has a doghouse, it should have “plenty of straw” on the floor to give the animal some protection against the cold.

“People have a tendency to throw in a blanket or towel, but these get wet in the doghouses and don’t help the animals at all.”

It’s also not a good idea to keep an animal in a garage.

“A garage is a walk-in cooler and provides no long-term protection against the weather,” Porteous said.

The problem is “a lot of people” don’t think of these animals as pets. They are not family members and live in complete isolation.”

Animal abuse might be on the upswing because of the economic slump, both said.

“I believe we are going to see more and more animals being abused and dead as a result of being outside in the wintry cold or not properly fed.”

Authorities also are finding abandoned animals near death or dead in homes that have been foreclosed. In addition, there is the “serious problem” of dog fighting in Pontiac.

“Dog fighting is huge,” Wettlaufer said. “It’s a family sport in Pontiac.

“The bottom line is that if you can’t properly take care of a pet, give them up,” she said.

Contact Jerry Wolffe at (248) 745-4612 or

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