Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pit bull problems in Pontiac

I really don't intend for every post to wind up being about pit bulls ...
But anyhow, I went along with the Animal Care Network in Pontiac last week as they made their rounds helping people care for their pets. (Read the full story: Oakland County Animal Control prepares for expanded services as communities tighten budgets)
Admittedly, I was only out on two stops with them.
In that time though, all of the dogs I saw were pits or pit mixes — a total of four dogs, to be specific.
Animal Care Network volunteers repair a dog house
For the entire time that I've worked here, year after year, a reporter has gone out with the Animal Care Network folks.
What I saw was nothing compared to what reporters have seen in the past. I remember when one of our reporters came back practically in tears after several pit bulls were found dead — frozen — and several more near dead.
I shot video of the Animal Care Network folks, talking to them about why they use straw for dogs rather than blankets (which is because blankets get wet and freeze, straw doesn't, and it tends to wick away any moisture from the dog's body). One of them said to me that pit bulls really aren't outside dogs because they don't have an undercoat.
That is true. They're not the only dog breed like that, but it certainly does seem like they're the dog of choice for most Pontiac residents. My impression is also that many pit bulls in Pontiac are kept outside.

I went home that night — Sensi must've sniffed me for a good half hour — and realized how good Sensi has it compared to some of the dogs I met in Pontiac.
A typical snooze for my dog
First off, with the weather as cold as it's been lately, Sensi only goes out for a quick moment and then barks like it's an emergency to let us know he NEEDS — not just wants, but NEEDS — back inside, right then!
He begged to get up on the couch that night — I had the blanket around me, and I swear, that dog starts begging the instant I lift the blanket up — and I told him no because I had paperwork all spread out around me.
Looking down at those beggin' eyes, I told him, "You just have no clue how lucky you are. All that sniffing you did and you couldn't tell how cold those dogs were?"
He, of course, didn't understand and sighed in a rather pouty fashion as he went to lie down by the fire.

There's lots of problems with pit bulls in Pontiac. Pit bulls that freeze in their owner's backyards may be the least concerning of those problems to some people, but it makes me just as angry as all the violence these dogs are used for and the reckless disregard for safety that many pit bull owners display.

I spoke with Mike Zehnder, who oversees Oakland County's Animal Control Division, for that story as well. We spoke about the issues in Pontiac and he promised that if Oakland County began servicing Pontiac's animal control needs, all those issues would "come to a screeching halt."
I certainly hope to be a witness to just that.

The day before I went out with the Animal Care Network, allegations were made by a Pontiac resident that Animal Care Network volunteers impersonated police officers to intimidate her into taking better care of her pit bulls. The Animal Care Network denies this is true, and when I was out with them, I didn't talk to a single person along the way who believed they'd do something like that.
Either way, I'm just wondering how it feels to complain that someone did something ethically and legally wrong in order to get you to do something ethically and legally right. Just a touch of irony, it seems.


  1. Excellent piece. Very sad how dogs are relegated to the backyard to do nothing but live their shorts lives at the end of chains.

  2. Thank you so much for covering this! I only wish it could be front page news. Sometimes problems don't register in our busy lives unless they're put right in front of our faces.

  3. "I'm just wondering how it feels to complain that someone did something ethically and legally wrong in order to get you to do something ethically and legally right." Irony is right.

    Karen, thank you for writing this. The volunteers of the Animal Care Network are angels for animals. It takes a special person to do what they do.

  4. Thanks for your comments, everyone! I agree with all of you — it's so sad for the dogs, and the Animal Care Network folks certainly are angels for animals.

    I often wonder, if people are getting these pit bulls for protection, what good does it do to have them chained up in the backyard? Exactly what are they protecting except a pile of cold dirt?

    A dog on a chain can be easily avoided. A dog outside does not protect you or your home. A frozen dog dies and protects absolutely nothing. What is the purpose? It doesn't even make sense to me.

  5. Most peole should not even have dogs.
    Let alone children.
    Why not pay attention to the posts in Troy.
    No one believes little dogs bite first.
    All Humans were WRONG.
    Maybe call a Terrier a terrier cause when you used slang people.
    Forget all Terriers From Airedale to The Wee ones are are Designed by man to Hunt and protect.