TRAVERSE CITY -- Two Suttons Bay women are urging pet lovers to take steps to ensure their outdoor pets are safe and warm during this particularly cold, snowy winter.
Laurie Conney, owner of 45th Parallel Pet Services and Andrea Slater, manager of Hillside Feed and Supply in Suttons Bay, are cosponsoring the Leelanau County Winter Straw Drop on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Hillside Feed, 3040 S. Center Highway.
Residents, particularly those on limited incomes, are welcome to pick up a free bale of straw to reinforce outside shelters for domestic pets that need extra warmth this time of year. One bale will be available per-family and is being offered on a first-come, first-served, pick-up only basis.
Conney said she and Slater decided to donate the straw out of a general concern for dogs, cats, goats, chickens, rabbits and all other domestic animals that spend the winter outside.
“This is a little grassroots operation that was born out of our belief as lifetime animal advocates, that essential care for outdoor animals includes warmth, food and water,” Conney said.
The Leelanau Straw Drop is modeled after a Michigan Humane Society program Conney used when developing a similar project for the Lake County Animal Shelter in Baldwin prior to moving to Suttons Bay.
Dr. Jerry Harrison, veterinarian with Leelanau Veterinary Care, said providing straw for outdoor pets is a good idea for several reasons.
“Dogs that have been conditioned to the outdoors can do well in temperatures like we’ve just had, provided they have dog houses with adequate insulation,” Harrison said. “While some breeds like huskies and malamutes that are out all the time might go out and sleep in this weather, short-haired breeds and dogs that are not conditioned to the outdoors might not do as well.”
Straw provides a barrier so animals don't have to sleep on a cold surface, and it also is a great insulator, Harrison said.
“Pets can burrow into it, and when they are surrounded by layers of clean, dry straw their own body heat will keep them warm,” he said.
The Straw Drop will continue beyond Saturday if any bales remain or until the weather is no longer a threat. For details, contact Laurie Conney, 231-944-6848. For information on the Michigan Humane Society, visit www.michiganhumane.org.