While it may be cold for people in Metro Detroit, rescuers say it’s life-threatening for pets left outdoors in frigid conditions.
Relief services like Detroit Dog Rescue and Detroit Animal Care and Control are working overtime, offering free in-home crates and patrol services to prevent owners from leaving their animals outside.
As of Dec. 24, The Michigan Humane Society had responded to 1,890 incidents of no food, water or shelter in 2017. In 2016, they responded to 2,293.
“Our field services team is extra busy responding to people’s concerns. Cold fronts ... drastically increase the number of calls we answer,” said Shawn Bailey, spokesman for the Humane Society. “However, rather than seize pets, we often treat these as an opportunity for education, after which we follow up to ensure dog owners are heeding our advice.”
Detroit Dog Rescue also does not normally pick up deceased canines, but because of the number of frozen dogs being reported, they have added them to their routes and take them to a private service to be cremated.
“We’re receiving a lot of emergency calls and taking in dozens of dogs. Even overweight dogs just drop dead from the cold. They can’t sustain under 35-40 degrees,” said Kristina Rinaldi, executive director of DDR. “We’ve seen dogs frozen with tears in their eyes, horrific things we’ll never be able to forget.”
On Dec. 27, DDR received a call to respond to First Class Liquor on East Warren in Detroit. After viewing surveillance footage, they found an owner of a white pickup had dumped a frozen dog.
“The golden retriever mix appeared to be in good shape with no prominent trauma, but froze to death and this person didn’t know what to do with it,” said Rinaldi.
DDR had the dog cremated and is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to a conviction in the case.
By the end of the year, Metro Detroit had 22.2 inches of snow and wind chill levels reached as low as minus 15, said meteorologist Mike Richter, from the National Weather Service’s White Lake Township office.
“Anything below 32 degrees is technically considered freezing, but minus 10 to 15 degrees is just as impactful for them as much as it is for us,” Richter said.
Like most shelters, DDR is running at capacity, but has partnered with Union Lake Veterinary Hospital in Waterford, which has offered to board dogs that need critical care.