Alpena County, MI

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Alpena County is located in the far northern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula, bordering Lake Huron. It is a predominantly rural county with a population of 30,000. The county seat is the city of Alpena, which is a vacation spot with a permanent population of 10,000.

Alpena County has an animal control division that reports to the state of Michigan (scroll down in the link). The Huron Humane Society (HHS), located in the city of Alpena, also reports to the state of Michigan. I spoke to a representative of HHS who told me that they have a contract with the county to take in all the animals transferred by animal control and they take in strays directly from the public. The representative told me that HHS also takes in owner surrenders from the public, subject to a waiting list when the shelter is full. The representative did not know if any exceptions could be made to the waiting list for people who have to surrender an animal immediately. There is a small fee for owner surrenders who are up-to-date on vetting, with a higher fee if HHS will have to supply the vetting.

In 2012, Alpena County animal control reported that it impounded 115 cats and dogs, returned 53 of them to their owners, transferred 57, and euthanized 4. HHS reported an intake of 450 cats and dogs, with a live release rate of 90%. If we combine the statistics for both organizations, the live release rate for the county for 2012 was 91%.

Alpena County is counted in the Running Totals as a 90%+ community.

Worth Watching – Downriver, MI

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Downriver Central Animal Control (DCAC, formerly the Southgate Animal Shelter) is a cooperative animal control and sheltering organization in southern Michigan near Detroit. It serves the cities of Wyandotte (population 26,000), Southgate (30,000), Allen Park (28,000), and Lincoln Park  (38,000). The DCAC adoption facility is in Wyandotte.

In 2013, DCAC reported an 88% live release rate, with intake of 1451 animals. Of the live releases, 716 were transfers, presumably to Wyandotte. Wyandotte reported an intake of 782 cats and dogs in 2013, and their live release rate was 99.6% (scroll down to “city of Wyandotte” in the link). There is probably not a perfect overlap in statistical reporting for 2013, since Wyandotte operated its own animal control and shelter before the collaborative effort began in April 2013.

The Wyandotte shelter gets help from P.A.W.S. of Michigan, which coordinates volunteers who help with adoption and care of animals. The volunteers also offer pet retention counseling. An organization called Pound Pals does temperament evaluations and helps fund medical care. The shelter has a Facebook page and Petfinder profiles that provide a photo, history, and evaluation of each pet.

A private group called Shelter to Home opened a pet adoption center in Wyandotte in 2012 with the mission of featuring at-risk animals from the Detroit area. Shelter to Home was formed in 2007, and has a record of placing an average of 400 cats and kittens per year. The organization adopts out dogs but its primary emphasis is on cats.

Wyandotte, Southgate, Allen Park, and Lincoln Park are counted in the Running Totals as 80%+ communities.

Roscommon County, MI

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Roscommon County is located in the northern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula, in the Au Sable State Forest area. There are no incorporated cities in the county, but there are a few rapidly growing unincorporated towns. The population of the county is over 25,000. Animal control and sheltering is done for the entire county, including the unincorporated towns, by the Roscommon County Animal Shelter, which is run by the county. The shelter has a waiting list for owner surrenders.

The Michigan animal shelter database report for the Roscommon County shelter for 2013 showed a 99.3% live release rate, which  dropped to 95% when owner-requested euthanasias were included. Total intake for the year was 1006 cats and dogs. The reported live release rate was 99% in 2012, but it dropped to 91% when owner-requested euthanaisa was included in the euthanasia total. The live release rates for the years 20092010, and 2011 were 95%, 98%, and 99% respectively. Roscommon was one of 10 counties in Michigan recognized by the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance for 2011.

A September 12 article about the shelter’s director offers insight into what has made this shelter so successful. The article describes how Terry MacKillop, the shelter director, was asked to help reform neighboring Saginaw County’s animal control system. In the article, MacKillop mentions the importance of several factors, including infection control policies, calling rescues to help place animals, and leadership. The article cites MacKillop as “saying that reducing the euthanasia rate to near zero in Roscommon County was the result of a lot of community outreach, education and building relationships with rescue groups and other organizations. ‘Mine didn’t happen overnight,’ he said.”

Roscommon County, Michigan, was originally listed by this blog on May 19, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Otsego County, MI

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Otsego County is located in a rural area in the northern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula, and has a population of about 23,000 people. Otsego County Animal Control is the municipal agency that provides animal control and sheltering services for Otsego County. The shelter is supported by the Friends for Life organization, which provides a range of services including Petfinder listings and foster homes. A new shelter building was completed in January 2012 after funds were approved by local taxpayers.

I called the shelter to ask about the owner surrender policy, and was told that Otsego County residents do not have to make an appointment or pay a fee to surrender an animal. The shelter appreciates people calling ahead if they wish to surrender an animal, but does not require advance notice. The shelter takes in stray cats as well as dogs. I was told that the county does not have many feral cats, but if they get a call about feral cats they offer TNR. They also sometimes relocate cats through a barn cat program.

In 1999, the county adopted a resolution supporting the concept that no adoptable companion animal should be killed. The resolution “was also founded on the belief that ONLY those animals received in a condition of terminal illness or mortal injury that are beyond clinical redemption and/or animals that are deemed aggressive and/or dangerous and cannot be successfully rehabilitated with available resources should be humanely destroyed.”

Friends For Life reports that the shelter had a “reclaiming/adoption” rate of 99.5% in 1999 and 98.75% in 2000. I was not able to find statistics for the years from 2001 to 2006, although partial statistics from 2001 and 2002 indicate the shelter had a 90% or higher live release rate in those years. The Michigan state database shows that the shelter reported live release rates as follows from 2007 through 2013:

Intake for 2013 was 885 cats and dogs. All adopted animals were sterilized. There was one owner-requested euthanasia, but the live release rate does not change if that is counted with euthanasias.

(Note: The form that Otsego County Animal Control submitted to the state of Michigan for 2012 contains an error in that it states that 197 cats and dogs were sold for research. I spoke to a shelter official who verified that this was a mistake on the form, that no animals were sold for research, and that the 197 number was for returns-to-owner.)

Otsego County, MI, was originally listed by this blog on May 27, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Montmorency County, MI

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Montmorency County, Michigan, is located in the northern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula, and has about 10,000 residents. Up until 2009, the county sheriff’s office handled animal control. The Elk Country Animal Shelter (ECAS) is a 501(c)(3) organization that supported the county shelter for years and finally took it over entirely in April 2009. Animals were kept in outdoor kennels at the sheriffs office and ECAS’s first order of business was to create a shelter building where the animals could be indoors. The shelter lists owner surrenders as a service it provides and does not list any restrictions on surrenders on its website.

Here are the live release rates for the county as reported to the state of Michigan for the five years since ECAS took over the shelter:

  • 2009 — 97%
  • 2010 — 97%
  • 2011 — 97%
  • 2012 — 97%
  • 2013 — 92%

The Elk Country shelter had to deal with a hoarding/cruelty situation early in 2013 where the shelter wound up taking in close to 40 dogs. Since Elk Country is a very small shelter, the 40 dogs represented a substantial part of its dog intake for the year.

The shelter’s mission was endangered in 2012 when a contract dispute with the county caused ECAS to stop formally taking in strays. Volunteers for the shelter went out on their own time and rescued strays and took them to a neighboring shelter. Fortunately the dispute only lasted a couple of weeks, and on April 11, 2012 the county approved the funding asked for by the shelter. The shelter provides for much of its income by its own fundraising.

Montmorency County, MI, was originally listed by this blog on May 17, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Midland County, MI

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Midland County, as you would expect from the name, is located near the center of Michigan. It is primarily rural, neither wealthy nor poor, and has a population of over 80,000 people. The county seat is the city of Midland, which has about 42,000 people. Up until January 1, 2011, the county government handled animal control and sheltering. The live release rate for the county animal control office in 2010 was only 52% (scroll down in the link to Midland County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control).

On January 1, 2011, the Humane Society of Midland County (HSOMC) took over the animal shelter and things quickly changed. The live release rate went up to 95% for the year 2011 (see “Humane Society of Midland County” in the link). The big difference was in adoptions. For example, under the county’s management in 2010 there were only 134 kittens adopted while 168 were killed. Under HMOSC in 2011, there were 605 kittens adopted and only 23 killed. The county adopted out 178 adult cats in 2010 and killed 530, whereas HSOMC in 2011 adopted out 611 and killed 67. In 2012 the live release rate improved slightly to 96%, with an intake of 2295 dogs and cats.

In 2013, HSOMC won the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance award for outstanding medium-size shelter in the open-admission category. The shelter’s intake for the year was 2675 dogs and cats. It sterilized all animals before adoption, and did not report any transfers. Its live release rate was 97%.

I called HSOMC and asked about their owner surrender policy. They accept surrenders from any county resident, if the resident has a valid driver’s license to prove residence. No appointment is required, but the shelter does charge a small fee ($25).

In preparation for taking over animal control, HSOMC hired a new director in December 2010 — Beth Wellman. Wellman was previously shelter coordinator for the Ionia County Animal Shelter, which had an 84% live release rate in 2010 during her tenure.

Midland County, MI, was originally listed by this blog on June 3, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Marquette County, MI

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Marquette County is located in the upper peninsula of Michigan and has about 67,000 residents. The city of Marquette, with about 21,000 people, is the county seat. The Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter (UPAWS) is a private non-profit organization located in Marquette County. I was told in an e-mail from a shelter representative that UPAWS provides animal sheltering for the entire county except for the town of Negaunee, which has a veterinary clinic that takes in strays. I was also told that UPAWS takes in owner surrenders. They encourage appointments for surrenders and ask for a small fee, but do not require either an appointment or a fee.

UPAWS reports to the Michigan Department of Agriculture shelter statistics database (scroll down in the link). In calendar year 2013 it had an intake of 1545 animals. The live release rate was 97%. The state does not collect information on owner-requested euthanasia. With animals who died or were lost in shelter care included with euthanasias, the live release rate was 96%. The 2013-2014 Annual Report shows a 97% live release rate for the fiscal year.

In 2011, UPAWS reported a 97% live release rate under its former name of Marquette County Humane Society. The 2011-2012 Annual Report posted on the UPAWS website recorded an intake of 1936, with 79% adopted, 16% returned to owner, 1% transferred, and 4% euthanized. The euthanasia statistic includes owner-requested euthanasias. The 2012-2013 Annual Report recorded a 98% live release rate.

Marquette County, MI, was originally listed by this blog on April 20, 2013, based on its 2011 and 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Copper Country, MI

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Keweenaw, Houghton, and Baraga counties are located in a mostly rural area in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Together, they form a region known as Copper Country, named for the copper mines it used to have. The Copper Country Humane Society (CCHS) is a private non-profit that provides animal sheltering services for non-feral dogs and cats for the three counties and for the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.

The shelter describes its program as follows:

Our successful adoption program matches homeless animals with responsible people seeking pets.  The nominal adoption fee helps defray some of the costs of the initial vaccination, deworming and spaying/neutering of adopted dogs and cats.  CCHS helps over 900 animals annually and ninety percent of our dogs and cats are adopted or claimed every year.  There is NO time limit on our animals looking for homes, CCHS cares for them for as long as they need us.  CCHS cares for about 80 animals each day at our shelter.”

In 2010, the shelter reported to the Michigan Department of Agriculture that it had a 93% live release rate for its intake of almost 900 animals (scroll down to Copper Country in the link). The shelter relied mostly on adoptions and returning pets to their owners, with very few transfers. In 2011, with an intake of 939 animals, the shelter reported a substantially higher live release rate — a near-perfect 99%. In 2012 the CCHS report was not included in the state reports.

In 2013, the shelter had an intake of 769 cats and dogs. The live release rate was 99%. All animals who were placed by adoption were sterilized. CCHS did not euthanize any dogs, and euthanized 9 cats. CCHS won the Michigan Pet Fund alliance 2014 award in the “small shelter” category for “outstanding open admission shelter with the best save rate.” The award was based on CCHS’s performance in 2013.

Copper Country, MI, was originally listed by this blog on May 5, 2013. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Grosse Ile, MI

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Grosse Ile Township consists of a large island and several smaller islands adjacent to Detroit. The area has about 10,000 residents. The Animals’ Island League Shelter (T.A.I.L.S.) is a private non-profit that partners with the township for animal sheltering. The shelter’s website states: “Although the Animal Shelter is owned and operated by the Township, we, as stewards of the Grosse Ile Animal Shelter, are dedicated to providing the additional financial support needed to make our homeless animal friends happy, healthy, and adoptable.”

The shelter’s website describes its operations as follows: “The Grosse Ile Animal Shelter houses stray animals picked up by Animal Control and those turned in by Grosse Ile residents only. Stray animals must be picked up by Animal Control at your residence or the location where the stray animal was found. We are not able to house surrendered animals from other communities.” The website does not mention any restriction on owner surrenders other than community residency.

Michigan shelters report their statistics to the state. In 2010, the shelter reported a live release rate of 94%, and in 2011 it reported 91%. The reported live release rate improved to 95% in 2012.

Grosse Ile, MI, is listed in the Running Totals as a 90%+ community.

Gogebic County, MI

[For today’s News Bit and the Running Totals, click here.]

Gogebic County in Michigan and Iron County in Wisconsin are located across the state boundary from each other at the western end of Michigan’s upper peninsula. Gogebic County contains the town of Ironwood, which has over 5,000 people. Together, the population of the two counties is over 22,000 people.

The “Helping Orphaned Pets Everywhere” (H.O.P.E.) animal shelter, located in Ironwood, contracts with Gogebic and Iron counties  to provide sheltering for lost, stray, and abandoned animals and cruelty cases. The shelter also accepts owner surrenders “as space permits.” I called the shelter for more detail on the owner surrender policy and was told that if someone needs to surrender a pet and cannot wait, the shelter will take the pet even if they are full. A 2009 article about the shelter states: “Animals are not euthanized except in cases of unrelievable suffering, terminal illness or a known history of being a threat to the public.”

The state of Michigan collects statistics on all animal shelters in the state and posts them online. The report for H.O.P.E. for 2013 can be accessed here (scroll down to Help Orphaned Pets Everywhere). Intake in 2013 was 407 cats and dogs. The live release rate was 98%, with no reported owner-requested euthanasias. All animals adopted out were spayed and neutered. The shelter reported a 99% live release rate in 2012, with an intake of 472 cats and dogs. In 2011, H.O.P.E. reported a live release rate of 98% with an intake of 401 cats and dogs.

Gogebic County, MI, was originally listed by this blog on June 4, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.