Delta County is located in Michigan’s upper peninsula and has over 37,000 residents. The county seat is the city of Escanaba, with 13,000 residents. The county is also home to the city of Gladstone, with 5,000 residents.
Delta County used to have a county-run animal shelter, but budget cuts forced the facility’s closure in August of 2011. A group of residents then incorporated as the Delta Animal Shelter (DAS), a non-profit, and the county leased the shelter building to the new organization.
DAS management quickly realized that the existing shelter building was too small (2000 square feet) and outdated for their needs, and that the building had a mold problem. After trying to work through the options for staying in the building they decided to relocate the shelter, which would give them a chance to find a more adoption-friendly venue. They recently completed the purchase of a 9-acre plot and hope that construction can begin this year.
Shelter manager Sue Gartland, in an interview with the local Daily Press, described some of the changes that DAS made after taking over: “We now vaccinate. We spay and neuter all the animals. We started micro-chipping all the animals. We test the animals for heartworm . . . .” Gartland told me in a telephone conversation that animal control is provided by law enforcement agents in the county. DAS is the only shelter in the county and receives strays from every jurisdiction in the county, including Escanaba and Gladstone. The shelter accepts owner surrenders from residents, with no conditions. They have a barn cat program for feral cats.
In 2010, while the county was running the shelter, the live release rate was reported as 69% (scroll down in the link) with an intake of 992 dogs and cats. In 2011, with DAS running the shelter for part of the year, the live release rate was 87% with an intake of 912 dogs and cats. In 2012, the first full year that DAS ran the shelter, the live release rate was 92% with an intake of 1121 animals.