As temperatures continue to rise in Michigan, we are reminded of the danger in leaving dogs in cars. On an 85-degree day, the temperature inside a car can rise to more than 100 degrees in under 10 minutes, even if the sky is cloudy and the windows are cracked. As a result, dogs can suffer heat-related illnesses and may die before help has a chance to arrive.
Unfortunately, Michigan does not currently protect those who directly intervene if they see a dog suffering in a hot car. House Bill 4092 would give immunity from criminal prosecution to those who forcibly enter a vehicle to rescue an animal. Many states have such laws, but we are not yet one of them. We encourage members of the community to contact your state representative and urge them to support this legislation. This bill can not only save lives, but protect those who stand up to help.
The Detroit Zoological Society recently hosted our bi-annual Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo, the nation’s largest off-site animal adoption event, in partnership with the Michigan Humane Society. Our staff shared with attendees the dangers of leaving pets in cars and thankfully, most of them were already aware of this and the importance of calling the police if they witness this occurring. Many wanted to know how else they could help, and we provided postcards and contact information for each of their state representatives, as well as sample messaging to support House Bill 4092. We collected and distributed 165 postcards from this event.
The DZS’s Berman Academy for Humane Education exists to help people help animals. One way we do this is by providing opportunities for community members to take action in ways that have positive, lasting impacts on animals.
You can look up your state representative and their contact information here. We also encourage you to consider writing to your elected officials about other legislation that affects animals – you can find an updated list of Michigan and federal legislation here.
– Dr. Stephen Vrla is the curator of humane education for the Detroit Zoological Society and oversees the Berman Academy for Humane Education.
Three weeks ago, I adopted a 7-year-old female yellow Labrador retriever from a local animal shelter. I named her Clemmie, short for Clementine. She was found as a malnourished stray with protruding ribs and visible signs indicating she’d been used to breed many litters of puppies. It’s quite possible that she was dumped when she was no longer wanted by her previous owner. While I can’t undo the things that have happened to her in the past, I will do all that I can to provide the best possible life for her going forward. As Clemmie’s newly trusted guardian, I am committed to her well-being for the remainder of her life.
In the few short weeks since she joined my family, Clemmie has brought me immense joy. She greets me with tail wags and kisses each day when I return home from work. We spend time together taking long walks, meeting neighbors and enjoying our time in nature. She’s not yet certain how to play with toys, but I’ll continue to work with her on that. I’ve purchased dog food puzzles that will provide her with mental stimulation when I have to leave her at home alone. I’m also looking into playtime opportunities at local dog parks. I’m truly grateful to have found my “fur-ever” best friend. While it might appear that I rescued her, she’s brought as much happiness into my life as I have hers.
Unfortunately, an estimated 10,000 dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters each day due to a lack of homes. That adds up to 3-4 million animals in the U. S. each year. So when you adopt an animal, not only are you bringing home a new member of your family, you’re also responsible for saving that individual’s life.
Local rescue organizations and shelters can support you in finding the perfect companion animal for you. Join us this weekend for Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo – one of the nation’s largest off-site companion animal adoption events – where hundreds of dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are available for adoption to loving homes. And don’t forget to stop by the Zoo’s humane education table while you’re there and learn more about how we work to help people help animals.
– Lisa Forzley is a curator of education for the Detroit Zoological Society and oversees the Berman Academy for Humane Education.
Lisa Forzley is the humane education manager for the Detroit Zoological Society and oversees the Berman Academy for Humane Education.
The Detroit Zoological Society frequently receives calls from people who have purchased an exotic animal such as an iguana or a parrot and have discovered that they are unable or unwilling to provide the specialized – and often expensive – care the animal needs. In 2014, we received 84 phone calls or emails regarding reptiles alone! We hear comments such as, “I didn’t know that a parrot could live to be almost 100 years old” or “I had no idea that an iguana could grow to be more than 5 feet long.”
Unfortunately, the ever-growing exotic pet trade creates situations that signiﬁcantly compromise the animals’ welfare and result in people turning to the Detroit Zoo for help. Although we wish we could provide sanctuary for all animals in need, we are unable to accept them in nearly all cases.
Making a good pet choice is important – both for you and for the animal you will potentially be bringing into your home. Here are a few questions to get you started before adopting an animal:
- Am I able to meet the animal’s physical and psychological needs for his or her entire life?
- Do I have the time and the money needed to properly take care of this animal?
- Do local ordinances or laws prohibit owning this kind of animal?
- Will my veterinarian be able to provide his or her medical care?
- How much am I able to spend on veterinary costs?
- What will I do if there is a problem?
- Will this animal get along with animals that are already in my home?
Remember that dogs and cats have changed over several thousand years of living with humans and are the best nonhuman companions for us. Humane societies and rescue organizations are great resources to ﬁnd a dog or cat for your family. If you’re ready to adopt, join us this weekend at Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo, one of the nation’s largest off-site companion animal adoption events, where hundreds of dogs, cats, puppies and kittens will be available for immediate adoption to loving homes. You can also visit http://www.petﬁnder.com to ﬁnd rescue organizations located nearby. They’ll be able to support you in ﬁnding the perfect companion animal for your family!
– Lisa Forzley