BY MARY WICOFF
When the winter winds blow or the spring rains fall, animals need to stay warm and dry as much as people do.
Sadly, some owners don’t realize or care that Illinois law requires outdoor animals to have adequate shelter, as well as food and water. They can end up in court if the pets aren’t protected from the cold, rain and sun.
Animal lovers are coming to the rescue with organized drives to collect unused dog houses and materials to build the houses. And, of course, monetary donations are always appreciated, and will be used to buy the houses and materials.
The Humane Society of Danville is seeking dog houses that aren’t in use.
“We would see it got to an animal without proper shelter,” said Pat Miller, an employee at the shelter.
When the agency receives a complaint about a dog without shelter, Miller said the owner is given 48 hours to come up with a house. If that doesn’t happen, then the next step is court, and that could take another 30 days.
In the meantime, the dog suffers.
In some cases, the family loves the dog, but is unable financially to buy a shelter within that length of time. Sometimes, an owner will surrender the dog rather than provide shelter.
If the Humane Society can provide a dog house, then that helps the dog and also might keep the dog from being surrendered. “Maybe this will help out all around,” Miller said.
Also, Miller said, she knows someone who is willing to build dog houses if the Humane Society gets supplies.
Any type of dog house that’s in good shape — that is, it doesn’t have big holes — will be accepted. Call the Humane Society to arrange for pickup in the city. The agency also will clean out the house.
Also, call the society if you have building material. Construction companies, for example, might have material leftover after a job.
The Humane Society will provide straw for the houses, Miller said. Straw is better than blankets, which can get wet and freeze.
Another group in Danville has a similar goal — and has already collected $600 to help pets.
Operation Warm Paws is a project sponsored by the Danville Education Association. Students, teachers, staff, and administrators throughout District 118 have supported the Operation Warm Paws initiative.
Michelle Collins, a seventh-grade teacher at South View Middle School, said DEA does two to three major projects each year to help the community. This is the second year that a project has revolved around helping animals.
Last year, donations of food, dog beds and money were divided among the three animal shelters in the county.
This year, the group hopes to collect money and/or building materials by the end of this month, and then have a building party in February, Collins said.
Since the fund drive started at the beginning of December, more than $600 has been collected.
Collins said, “The donation total was outstanding because other fund drives were going on, too, for Hurricane Sandy victims and local food banks. I am so proud of District 118 students, fellow DEA colleagues, District 118 administrators and staff because they have given and given to various causes throughout the year. However, they did not hesitate to give one more time to help the animals of our community.”
Collins said a staff member has already drawn up a blueprint for a dog house, and others have volunteered to build them. Wood pallets are especially needed.
Once the houses are built, they will be distributed among the three animal shelters (the city, county and CARA, a no-kill shelter in Tilton).
On behalf of the Danville Education Association, Collins said, “Thank you to everyone that has supported and will support Operation Warm Paws.”
In northern Vermilion County, animal control officer Sherry Klemme supports Operation Warm Paws, calling it a “great effort.”
She has collected homes for outdoors dogs, but can always use more.
People who know of a dog or cat that needs a shelter or a better shelter are asked to contact her, as well as anyone who has a dog house they’re not using. “I’ll hold onto it until I need it,” she said.
As part of her job, Klemme knocks on doors and informs owners of state laws regarding shelter, tags, vaccinations and other issues. She makes sure dogs are up-to-date with shots and registrations, but she also wants them to be warm.
“I don’t encourage outside pets,” she said. “It’s one of my pet peeves.”
Most die-hard dog lovers agree with that sentiment, and make sure their pets are toasty warm in winter.
One of those is JoAnne Andrews of rural Alvin, who has seven dogs — two Pomeranians, two small Eskimo dogs, two Great Pyrenees and a border collie.
“I know they’re happy dogs,” she said.
She and her husband, Neil, have had 16 dogs over the past 25 years.
The most recent additions are her Great Pyrenees, Telah Hope and Tirzah Joy. JoAnne had gone to look at the puppies last April, and hoped her husband would get her one for Mother’s Day (thus, the name, Telah Hope). When he let her have two puppies from the litter, she had “tears of joy” — and that led to the second name, Tirzah Joy. In keeping with her other pets’ names, Telah and Tirzah are names found in the Bible.
The winter-loving dogs go outside to play, and they have their own playhouse — a plastic children’s house that the Andrewses had bought for the grandchildren 12 years ago.
The dogs fit inside the house, and there’s room for JoAnne to come in and visit with them. The doors open and shut.
“They don’t mind if it’s snowing,” JoAnne said. “Their hair is thick.” However, she noted that dogs do need shelter from the wind.
The dogs enjoy the best of both worlds — playtime outdoors and snuggle time indoors.
Personally, I agree that dogs should be allowed to come into the house, and my own dogs are proof of that. The Humane Society of Danville, the DEA and other animal lovers are to be commended for caring about what happens in other people’s backyards.
No animal should have to endure the biting cold (and that includes farm animals, as well). I know local people will step up with donations of dog houses and building materials so all pets can have a comfortable life.
— In the city, call the Humane Society of Danville at 446-4110 to arrange for pickup of dog houses or building materials.
— In Hoopeston, call the animal control officer at 283-5196 if you have a dog house to donate.
— To donate to Operation Warm Paws, send a check to the Education Personnel Federal Credit Union, 1102 N. Walnut St., Danville, IL 61832, and indicate it’s for Operation Warm Paws. For more information or to donate building supplies, call 260-5895. Deadline is the end of January.
The Vermilion County Animal Shelter Foundation is asking for help in returning a dog to safety.
Peaches is a 2½-year-old Yorkshire terrier mix with a tan/red coat. She ran away from the Village Mall on Jan. 5 during an adoption clinic event and has not yet been retrieved.
She has been seen daily since then traveling the area around the Danville Boat Club near Walnut Hill Court. She also has been seen coming in and out of the woods across Denmark Road directly across from Boat Club Road.
Peaches is a very shy dog and ignored several attempts at being called to come, though she does know her name. Peaches is scared and hungry and is known to like hot dogs as a treat.
Anyone who sees a dog fitting her description or has found and taken her in is asked to call 554-5452 (during the weekday only), 213-9595, 474-3076, 274-8606 or 918-2861 immediately.
The Pets column runs every four weeks. If you would like to have your pet featured, contact Mary Wicoff at 477-5161, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Commercial-News, 17 W. North, Danville, IL 61832.