Alger County is a small rural county located on the northern border of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Its population is 9600 people, including the county seat of Munising. Animal sheltering is provided for the county by the Alger County Animal Shelter (ACAS), which is a non-profit organization registered as the Humane Society of Alger County. The shelter stated its primary purpose in a newsletter as: “to receive lost or unwanted animals brought to the shelter, to return them to their owners or place them in a good home, and to educate the public about intelligent and humane treatment of animals.”
I spoke to the shelter manager, who told me that the county sheriff answers calls for stray pickup and those animals are brought to the shelter. ACAS accepts owner surrenders (including surrenders from outside the county) except for animals who are vicious or obviously sick. The shelter manager told me that ACAS turns away only about 3 or 4 animals each year under those criteria. ACAS employees or volunteers will drive to meet local owners who want to surrender an animal but cannot come to the shelter during regular business hours. The shelter asks for a $25-$50 contribution for owner surrenders, but does not require it. ACAS leases a building from the county and the county provides utilities, and the city of Munising makes a small payment to the shelter each month, but the shelter is primarily supported by donations and volunteers.
Like other Michigan shelters, ACAS reports its statistics to the state of Michigan each year. The shelter has had a high save rate for several years. In 2012, the shelter reported an intake of 308 animals, with 243 adoptions, 57 returned to owner, and 3 euthanasias. This gave the shelter a 99% live release rate for the year (scroll down in the link to the ACAS page). If the 5 animals who died in shelter care are counted in with euthanasias, the live release rate was 97%. ACAS takes in at-risk animals from other shelters when it has room. In 2012, 63 animals from other shelters were assisted by ACAS. (In a 2013 newsletter, ACAS listed somewhat different numbers for 2012 than those reported to the state. I asked the shelter manager about the discrepancy, and she said the statistics in the newsletter were estimates, prepared before the year-end totals were available.)
In 2011, the shelter report to the state showed a 94% live release rate with an intake of 240 animals. The Michigan Pet Fund Alliance recognized ACAS with an award for its 2011 live release rate. In 2010, the shelter reported a 94% live release rate with an intake of 190 animals. ACAS also reported high live release rates in previous years.