Take care of your pets in cold weather – February 9, 2011

Editorial: Take care of your pets in cold weather

Published: Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The worst snowstorm of the season may be over but we’ve still got plenty of winter left.

That’s why it’s critical that people don’t forget about their pets during this cold weather.

Members of the Animal Care Network reported as of last week that 15 dogs and four cats have died in Oakland County because they were left out in the cold.

The number will undoubtedly continue to climb unless people take some common-sense actions.

Volunteers for the organization have found some of the pets frozen to death while others, battling extreme hypothermia and frostbite, had to be euthanized because of their injuries.

Members of the network have long been going into neighborhoods, particularly Pontiac, and helping pet owners in need. The volunteers will pick up strays, deliver food and straw to dog owners who need it at no cost and will even help provide dog houses.

Pontiac is by no means the only community where pets have been found outside frozen but the city does illustrate a paperwork problem concerning help from the county.

Pontiac dropped its lone animal control officer in 2010. Oakland County’s Animal Control is ready to begin providing services to the city, but needs the city to rescind its animal control ordinances.

The county’s Board of Commissioners approved increasing funding for its animal control by about $500,000, allowing for six part-time officers and vehicles to be added. The move will allow the county to expand its services to a variety of communities that have or may look at eliminating city-based animal control services.

Officials with the county have said they anticipate coming to Pontiac in March.

We hope the city council quickly rescinds its ordinances to allow such action. Letting animals die because of a technicality in the law is just plain wrong.

This is not like the controversial proposal to disband the Pontiac Police Department and contract with the Sheriff’s Office for police protection. The animal ordinance is a simple, common-sense action that shouldn’t be politicized.

In the meantime, the metro area Animal Welfare Organization offers some tips that can save a pet’s life.

People need to remember that water bowls freeze and that dogs and cats can suffer from frostbite in a matter of minutes, mainly on feet, ears and tails.

Local laws require that if dogs are kept outdoors, the owner must supply the dog with “proper” shelter. This includes a dog house that is not oversized because the dog needs to retain body heat. The house should have a wind flap on the door and there should be plenty of dry straw and access to fresh, unfrozen water.

Also, pet cats are best kept inside the house and it wouldn’t hurt to also bring your dog  inside your home. At least put him in a shed or utility room during extremely cold weather.

You can be proactive not only for your own pet but for someone else’s.

If you see a dog or cat in need of a help, speak to the owner, and if that fails, contact your local animal shelter or animal control office.

Basically, if you have a pet, make sure it is treated properly, which doesn’t involve much more than some simple caring and thoughtfulness.

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