The Oakland Press (theoaklandpress.com), Serving Oakland County
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Animal control issues citation on dog found frozen, dead in Pontiac
Thursday, February 7, 2013 6:15 PM EST
By JOHN TURK
Of The Oakland Press
email@example.com; Twitter: @jrturk
The owner of a dog found frozen to death in Pontiac has been issued an animal neglect citation.
If convicted, the owner could face a maximum fine of up to $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail, according to Oakland County Animal Control Manager Bob Gatt.
“The person who owned this dog will face a judge in the not-too-distant future,” Gatt said.
Animal Care Network representatives said they found the dog Monday afternoon, laying lifeless in an old cage outside a home on Central Avenue. A metal chain was connected to its red collar. (Link to Michigan Animal Adoption Network story about the dog: February 4, 2013: Another Life Lost)
“We were out delivering straw when we found it,” said Pam Porteous, Pontiac representative for the non-profit. “The owners weren’t home.”
They contacted Oakland County Animal Control authorities, who investigated the case and issued the citation early the next day.
Gatt said animal control officers were sent to the home to take possession of the animal’s carcass.
“They issued an inadequate care and animal neglect citation to the homeowner,” he said Thursday. “It should be heard in the 50th District Court (in Pontiac) within 10 days of the violation.”
A post about the incident on the Animal Care Network’s Facebook page drew more than 300 comments from users who sent their sympathies and demanded answers.
Facebook user Tracy Cobb, a Maine resident, was saddened by the story. She commented: “If there are other animals in that residence, they need to be removed as well.”
In her comment, Cobb alluded to the fact that her research indicated Oakland County has a “lot of work to do in terms of animal welfare.”
Other people who viewed the post — titled “Another life lost…” — commented that Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper should get involved.
Sheri Ciraulo was moved by the post, and wrote: “Just sent an email to Jessica Cooper with the sad story and pics [sic] in hopes her office will do something! If everyone does this we may get justice for this unfortunate dog. Just don’t comment … Take some action!”
Cooper was not immediately available for comment Thursday afternoon.
Another comment made by Bonnie Costello read: “I am praying that the owners have been brought up on serious abuse/neglect charges. This just breaks my heart and I had to let this go for a while so I could stop crying to post this.”
Gatt said he is very proud of the work his office does, and it will continue to serve Oakland County.
“Every time my officers receive a report of animal cruelty, they respond,” he said. “And they did that this week.”
The dog’s owner will have to answer the citation — a misdemeanor — in court, said Gatt.
Michigan law says that animal owners have to provide shelter, food and water for their pets, said Gatt.
“We can’t make laws up; we can only enforce the law,” he said.
He added that every case is different — sometimes officers will take action, sometimes they won’t.
“Sometimes we get to the scene and its unfounded,” he continued. “The situation is not always what people say it is.”
Sometimes, people just aren’t cognizant of the fact that it’s cold out, or that their animal is outside, he added.
He said while Oakland County Animal Control doesn’t have formal directions for what to do if someone finds an animal outside in these freezing temperatures, he knows what he would do.
“If I saw my neighbor’s dog outside and it was freezing cold, the first thing I would do is call (them),” he continued.
If the owner doesn’t respond, then it’s time to call authorities. People can call police, animal control or local animal advocacy groups about animal cruelty issues, he said.
“It’s best to give us your name and number in case you do need to be called as a witness in a given case,” said Gatt. “However, we’re not going to not (check out a complaint) because it’s anonymous. We go when we’re called.”
He listed his organization’s numbers from the previous year — animal control processed 6,500 animals — and added that animal control has 10 trucks on the road in Oakland County at any given time.
Further, he said, the county animal shelter is “one of the top in the state for returning dogs and cats to owners.”
“Obviously, in the winter, we see more of this type of crime,” said Gatt.
Although it’s early, Pam Porteous said the number of dogs found frozen to death is less than last year, when 12 dead dogs were found.
“We’re just trying to bring these things to the county’s attention so people are held accountable,” she said.
Contact staff writer John Turk at 248-745-4613 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Pontiac, if you suspect an animal is being neglected, left out in freezing weather, not fed properly or abused, call the Oakland County Animal Control office at 248-391-4100, or visit 1700 Brown Road near Giddings Road in Auburn Hills.
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