Berrien County Animal Control says handful of animals rescued during cold spell

BERRIEN COUNTY — As cold weather began seeping into the area this week, the Berrien County Animal Control worked to make sure animals were safe and warm.

Tiffany Peterson, the animal control director, said the shelter was inundated with animal welfare calls. Fortunately, Peterson said only a handful of animals needed to be rescued during the cold spell that plagued the area through Friday with subzero temperatures.

The shelter worked with a reduced staff and limited hours this week. Peterson said dispatchers and a crew that cares for animals housed at the shelter were among those working.

Tiffany Peterson

“Monday afternoon and Tuesday were really, really busy,” Peterson said. “Just call after call after call to check on horses and dogs, and we got a couple of cow calls.”

Two families who were displaced because of the cold called the shelter to find a safe place for their animals to be housed temporarily. One of those calls was from Niles family whose pipes had frozen. Peterson said the family was able to make arrangements to have relatives care for their animals instead. A second family from the Harbert area lost heat and needed a place for their German Shepherds to stay.  

If staff saw an animal outside in the cold or responded to a report of an animal out in the cold, Peterson said they first tried to make contact with the owner before picking the animal up and taking them to a shelter. Most owners contacted were cooperative and brought animals inside when asked, Peterson said.

“We will pull an animal if it is any kind of danger,” Peterson said.

Peterson said because not many animals had to be rescued, capacity at the shelter did not change drastically during the cold this week.

One of the most important things that Peterson said animal control officials helped to do during the cold was educating residents on caring for animals during extreme temperatures.

“Normal winter is one thing, but those last couple of days have been horrendous,” Peterson said. “Within 3 to 5 minutes, a dog or animal can get frostbite.”

She said domestic animals that are used to being outside could be kept in a basement or garage.

“Bringing animals in to be too hot too fast can also cause damage,” she said.

For barn animals, she said people are advised to have a barn, lean-to or even a tarp set up where animals can get out of the wind. 

Peterson also asked that if a person sees an animal outside in the cold and they know the animal’s owner to try and contact them before calling officials. This assures that animal control officers are free to respond to priority calls and keeps them from having to travel more, especially when conditions are dangerous, she said.

Peterson praised her staff for their work throughout the week.

“Everyone really buckled down and helped each other out and jumped in and said, ‘hey, I can get there’ or ‘I can pick you up,’” Peterson said.

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