by Elisa Black-Taylor

Date: January 2011: Good morning readers. There’s something very harsh about this winter that we haven’t seen here in the U.S. in many years. I have a feeling many parts of the world are also experiencing a severe winter. Unfortunately, pets are freezing to death this year.

Today I’d like to address a problem taking place in Pontiac, Michigan located in Oakland County. The population for Pontiac is roughly 66,000 and the temperature as I write this article is 21 degrees F. For the record, temperatures have dipped into the teens on several nights and wind chill in the single digits.

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And until the city rescinds it’s animal control ordinance they are without an animal control officer to enforce animal welfare laws during this deadly winter. Their sole officer was let go in 2010 and the position nixed.

So how do freezing pets and no animal control officers affect a town? People are abandoning dogs and cats and there’s very little legal control over any of it. Without an animal control officer, people are getting away with murder.

Administrative supervisor for Oakland County Animal Control and Pet Adoption Center, Joanie Toole, told the Oakland Press they hope to have the situation of no animal control officers under control in March. This may be too late for the many dogs and cats left out in the cold.

Last week the Oakland Press reported that 15 dogs (all pit bull mixes because of their thin skin) and 4 cats have frozen to death in Pontiac. In Inkster, Michigan, the Animal Care Network, a volunteer organization, has already found three dead dogs and three dead cats. This is really scary because the total for last year was nine dogs and there are still several more months left with the potential for dangerous temperatures. The U.S. is unpredictable weather wise. There could be snow as late as April if the current weather patterns continue.

The freezing temperatures along with no animal control officers is making this a deadly year for the pets of Pontiac. Members of the Animal Care Network are doing all they can to help the dogs and cats in the area survive the winter. Not only are they checking on the animals, they will provide food and straw at no charge if they are made aware of the need.

Here’s a video where Fox 2 news went along with members of the Animal Care Network as they went about the task of checking on the animals. This video shows animals left out in the cold, many starving to death. Since cats are also being found I’ve included this video to give the reader here an idea of what it’s like trying to protect animals in a town with no animal control authorities.

Abandoned Dogs Starving and Dying in Pontiac: – opens in a new window.

I’m also referencing the page that told me of this heartbreaking story. DO NOT click on this link if you are easily upset. I’m only including it to show the seriousness of this situation. Not just in Michigan, but anywhere the weather is cold enough to kill.

WARNING:GRAPHIC!! – What happens in a City without Animal Control! (new window)

Pet owners everywhere, PLEASE take care of your pets. Animals living outside should be in a size appropriate doghouse (nothing huge) and the doghouse should be raised up on bricks so the floor doesn’t freeze to the ground. The doghouse should fit the dog so heat is conserved.

Don’t use blankets and towels to keep your pets warm. They will get wet and freeze. Use dry straw instead and pack it down. Use as much as you can so your pets can burrow down and keep warm.

Water pets at least twice a day. Snow and ice are NOT substitutes for fresh water.

Feed an outdoor animal extra food during the winter months. Animal body fat is an insulator.

I remember a few years when I had an outdoor doghouse and no dog. My mother and I would fix it up each winter for the feral cats in the neighborhood. There wasn’t a night that went by that we didn’t see a head peeping out after enjoying a good meal and a fresh drink of water. Mama had 200 pine trees on her property and one of my chores was filling the dog house with the pine straw. Together we tamed many a feral by protecting them from the elements and making sure they didn’t go hungry.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I grew up in a place where people cared about the neighborhood animals. We watched out for each others pets during vacation time and family emergencies. A few years back my neighbors went through a tragedy and we cared for their four dogs while both of them were hospitalized. This is what people who love animals do.

Some of the blame has to fall on people who know these pets are freezing to death and still refuse to lift a finger to help. Not getting involved has crossed a line that should never have been drawn in the first place.

Please forgive me for this depressing story. I have a soft spot for animals who live out in the cold. It’s a horrible way for a dog or cat to die. If you can’t care for an animal, don’t leave it out to freeze. Call a humane society or volunteer group. The way these animals died is unforgivable. If this story can help prevent one death, I’ve done my job for the day.

I know has readers from all over the world. What I’d like to know from all of you is whether this is happening where you live. Pets left freezing in the snow is as harsh as any other form of abuse I’ve reported on. I’m just curious as to whether it’s happening everywhere or just in the U.S.


Source other than indicated in the article:

Pets Are Freezing To Death This Year! to Home Page

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Pets Are Freezing To Death This Year!

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Dec 29, 2011
Abandonment of cats NEW
by: Anonymous

Relatives of mine FORCED my six indoor cats out into the street in August 2009. I had 2 of them for 6 years and the other 4 for 3 years. I tried to get the local cat shelter to take them, but was told they had no more room for cats as they were at their maximum. My home was in Northern Iowa. They have been through two winter’s now and another coming very soon. I don’t know if they are dead or alive, but a neighbor of mine in Iowa said if no one took them in then they would freeze to death as it gets to 25-30 below zero deg. A neighbor who lived next door to me said she saw one of my cats with infected eyes and he was going blind because she said he would bump into things outside. I had that cat for 6 years and it was the most docile of all. He used to lie in the flower garden and enjoy life outside in the Summer. I loved all my cats and now i don’t know what has become of them. I pray every night that they are not suffering and for all the cats and dogs too that they don’t suffer.

Feb 08, 2011
Freezing Pets
by: Bob

Amen Ruth,

I’ve provided shelter for and fed animals belonging to people who wouldn’t do it. If you live in an area with animal control, call them. A lot of these animals are suffering because not enough of us will get involved. Do something, If nothing but drive by and drop food out your car window.

I found a starving dog tied up in a yard once whose owner wouldn’t do anything after I brought the matter to his attention, as if he didn’t know. I took photos of the conditions and the dog and passed them out to his friends and his boss at work. The boss told him he had better do something about taking care of the dog. He did. If the photos showed up around the neighbood or for heavens sake FACEBOOk, I think that would help.

Here where I live there is a heavy fine and jail term for animal abuse but not much is ever done to prosecute. Where there are laws a citizen can take photo and/or a witness for proof, file a complaint, swear out and sign an affidavit, and most of the time the person will be arrested.

A big part of the problem is that no one wants to get involved so the animals suffer; and we are the ones who are supposed to be humane.

Feb 08, 2011
beyond neglect
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

Bob gives a lot of good ideas to help feral cats or maybe pets who are allowed to roam– but the animals shown in the pictures accompanying this article were in fenced yards. Unless you are lucky enough to be aware of an animal being kept outside like that, there really is nothing you can do. Like all domestic abuse it happens “behind closed doors.” And it is abuse. You have to wonder how a person so devoid of empathy treats the family pets every other day of the year, not just on the coldest. Are they provided with food and water every day? Are they being beaten or otherwise abused? Because leaving your animal tied up outside without sufficient shelter in winter is abuse. A feral cat has a better chance, because people like Bob will care and provide shelter for them. But the “owners” of those poor pets who froze to death couldn’t even care about their own animals, much less strays. Pets are completely dependent on us. When we let them down they are helpless to protest– they just suffer and sometimes die. I would rather be a feral cat living in Bob’s yard than a pet cat with a bad caretaker.

Feb 08, 2011
Cats and Cold Weather
by: Bob Tucker

I just read the comments about pets being out in the cold weather. PLEASE, folks GET UP AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!
Something as simple as a cardboard box with a hole for a door will keep an animal alive. To waterproof it, stick the box inside a garbage bag and tape it in place; put a towel or blanket in for a bed. If you want to get fancy go buy a plastic container, the kind with a lid that you store stuff in, glue some cardboard inside for insulation, put in the blanket and cut a door. Try to place it where it is out of the wind and rain or you can put a cover over the whole thing. Cats dont’ like to sleep on the ground.
Another trick. I took a discarded large plastic dog house, insulated the inside with cardboard, divided it into four compartments internally with thin plywood and cut a door hole for each compartment. Next I stapeled a string of Christmas tree lights, the bulb type, around inside, it outside near my house and ran an extentsion cord to it. The bulbs provide enough heat to keep an animal warm and they will not get hot enough catch anything on fire. Staple them away from things inside just in case.
I have three feral cats living in the electric cat house now. If you don’t do something, who will.

Feb 01, 2011
What is wrong with people?
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

The subject of your article made me think of the poor feral kitties with nowhere to go in the cold, which is certainly a sad situation. But no, you really were writing about PETS freezing to death. Who would leave their animal out in subzero temperatures? Are they cruel or just stupid?
Animals, like people, do still need fresh air and exercise in the winter and some pets go to the bathroom outside. But in cold weather close supervision is needed with time outside limited to fifteen minutes or less depending on the temps and conditions. I hope those people who couldn’t keep their pets alive don’t also have children. I feel for those kids if they do.

Jan 31, 2011
lucky country
by: alf

thailand is the luky country for aimals,dogs and cats roam around as thei like,street cooking will feed them,they like to ly aroundwhere cooksare on the street,maybe the gov. will have to start to do something about as there is a big incriss of dogs,some very nice cats run the streets.i do not let my cats out ,as they specialand kep the out of decise..wll to say i had dogs [who have die ]if there they wont be cold as they have like an egyptian doom with all there blakets and pillows to ly on .no dirt is around only on top off the roof cover what is of metal shites, to say i fel sorry for ani animal,who has not a home

Jan 31, 2011
Thank you for highlighting this
by: Michael

Thanks, Elisa, for highlighting this. It is something that perhaps gets forgotten; just another example of irresponsible companion animal caretaking. It is shocking to think that a person can knowingly leave a dog outside in temperatures that are well below freezing all night and day (it seems) without providing proper protection. I wouldn’t do it at all. It seems barbaric to me.

It probably happens in the UK too but we don’t hear about it. The temperatures are generally less extreme here so less chance anyway.

I sense that America has a slightly different attitude to companion animals one sign of which is declawing and this.

One man on my YouTube channel said he declawed his cats because the human was top of the food chain! It is a kind of religious fundamentalism, animals serving the almighty human. This attitude can lead to leaving dogs outside in sub-zero conditions. It does not foster an empathy with the animal. It does the opposite in fact.

Jan 31, 2011
cold weather and animals
by: Paula Amos

Elisa, Yes this was a sad story but it needs to be told if we hide from the truth it will keep being repeated !! this happens everywere people need to be aware that certian animals need to be indoors and the ones outside need shelter, water , and plenty of food!! thanks for your story!

Jan 31, 2011
cold weather and animals
by: Paula Amos

Elisa, Yes this was a sad story but it needs to be told if we hide from the truth it will keep being repeated !! this happens everywere people need to be aware that certian animals need to be indoors and the ones outside need shelter, water , and plenty of food!! thanks for your story!

Jan 31, 2011
cold weather and animals
by: Paula Amos

Elisa, Yes this was a sad story but it needs to be told if we hide from the truth it will keep being repeated !! this happens everywere people need to be aware that certian animals need to be indoors and the ones outside need shelter, water , and plenty of food!! thanks for your story!

Jan 31, 2011
News footage link
by: Elisa

Direct link to news team following is

In case it won’t load

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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