Understanding Animal Welfare Issues in our Community
Frequently Asked Quesitons
- What does the phrase “no kill” mean and what does it take to become a “no-kill” organization?
Most importantly, “no-kill” does not mean “no euthanasia.” Even organizations who call themselves “no-kill” regularly euthanize animals found to be “severely sick or injured and whose prognosis for rehabilitation is poor or grave” or “vicious or dangerous dogs.”
The “No-Kill Equation” calls for organizations to operate programs including high-volume low-cost sterilization programs, foster care network, comprehensive adoption programs, medical and behavioral rehabilitation programs, pet retention programs, trap-neuter-release programs, allow rescue groups access to shelter animals, volunteer programs and compassionate leadership.
MHS employs all of these techniques to lower our euthanasia rates and find as many pets a loving home as possible. However, one thing MHS will not do in a misguided attempt to lower a “kill rate” is limit admissions. Many “no-kill organizations will limit their animal admissions to those animals who are adoptable, and turn other animals away. While enacting this policy would have an immediately positive effect on MHS’ statistics, it would have a far greater negative effect on the community.
- What is an “open-admission” facility?
Open-admission facilities like MHS will accept ANY animal, regardless of its condition, adoptability, geography, or available kennel space. MHS will not turn its back on an animal in need, even if it means that the most humane option for that animal is to provide a dignified and humane end.
- Why are animals euthanized at MHS?
As the state’s largest open admission animal welfare organization, MHS takes in more animals than any other organization in Michigan. Sadly, a growing percentage of these animals are unsavable, even by the same standards promoted by so-called “no-kill” organizations. MHS’ overall euthanasia rate has steadily declined over the past decade, and MHS will continue to strive to reduce the number of animals who must be humanely euthanized.
- Can every animal be saved?
Sadly, no. When animals are severely ill or injured, or whose temperament makes them dangerous to place into a home, MHS will not place these animals for adoption. As the primary animal welfare organization in the city of Detroit and the largest in the state of Michigan for the past 130 years, MHS feels that it has a responsibility to the community to not adopt out animals that could be dangerous, or prolong an animal’s suffering.
However, MHS spends nearly 83 cents of every dollar donated to the organization to save as many animals as possible, as well as working with partners in the animal welfare community, including other shelters and rescues, to find the proper home for as many animals as can.
- Why are so many animals at MHS untreatable?
MHS takes in more than six times the number of animals than the next largest organization in Michigan, and does not limit its admissions to only those animals which are deemed to be healthy/adoptable, as some other organizations do. Further, the challenges presented by being the primary animal welfare agency in the city of Detroit contribute to animals coming into our facilities with more severe health or temperament/behavioral issues than those seen in other communities.
- What are some of the challenges unique to caring for animals in the City of Detroit?
A growing number of animals in the city receive little to no veterinary care and/or are victims of neglect, abuse, poor living conditions, socialization, dog-fighting or other forms of animal cruelty. In addition, the poor economic climate in the city has significantly affected the ability of many pet owners to care for animals.
- Does MHS have any plans to become a no-kill organization?
MHS has implemented all of the programs called for under the “No-Kill Equation” and is working diligently to reduce the number of animals who are ultimately deemed to be untreatable. MHS’ strategic plan calls for guaranteed placement for 100% of all healthy and treatable animals within the next few years. However, MHS has no intention to ever turn away an animal, and is committed to remaining an open-admission animal welfare organization.
- What does MHS do to lower the number of untreatable animals?
MHS has implemented numerous programs and services targeted at improving animal health and welfare. These include low-cost sterilization services, humane education programs, discounted veterinary services for the indigent, a free pet food bank, low-cost vaccination clinics, cruelty investigation and rescue services, as well as our trap-neuter-release program for feral cats.
MHS’ legislative advocacy efforts have also resulted in the enactment of animal protection laws which are among the strictest in the country. In addition, MHS provides the state’s largest educational conference for animal welfare professionals, bringing in nationally renowned speakers on emerging issues within the industry.
- Does MHS euthanize all pit bulls?
No! Pit bulls and other so-called bully breeds are adopted at MHS every day and make absolutely wonderful pets. Like all other dogs, pit bulls receive a health and temperament evaluation to ensure that they will make a great addition to a family.
- Why did MHS reject a proposed audit earlier this year?
MHS emphasizes and employs continuous improvement practices and national benchmark standards in every aspect of its daily operations. More specifically, the techniques used by the Michigan Humane Society in evaluating incoming animals have been developed and refined over many years and are regularly reviewed and updated as appropriate. As such, an audit was deemed duplicative of these efforts and not the best use of MHS’ resources at that time.
- Is MHS’ financial information regularly audited?
Every year, MHS’ finances are audited by a third-party to ensure that we are upholding the highest standards when it comes to handling the hard-earned dollars entrusted to us by donors. To date, MHS has never had an issue arise as result of these audits. In fact, MHS’ financial information is readily available and can be requested by calling (248) 283-1000.
Surrendering an Animal
- What happens after I surrender an animal?
Every animal surrendered to the Michigan Humane Society is provided with vaccinations, a warm bed and nourishing food and water as soon as they come to us. They are evaluated for the health to ensure that they are healthy enough to be placed for adoption. Following a time to allow for acclimation to the shelter environment, the animal will also be tested for temperament. If the animal is found to be both physically and temperamentally healthy, they will be placed for adoption. If not, they may spend more time recuperating, be placed in a foster home, or if they are too unhealthy to be placed, they may be humanely euthanized.
There is no time limit or predetermined length of stay for any of the animals in our care.
- How do I surrender an animal?
As an open-admission facility, MHS will accept any animal at any one of our three Centers for Animal Care. We do ask for a $28 fee to help offset the cost of the animal’s care. On average, it costs $156 for MHS to find a loving forever home for a homeless animal.
- What other options do I have to surrendering my pet?
Check out these other options to surrendering your pet!
- How do I find out more information about a specific pet I saw online?
It’s simple! Just give us a call and we’d be happy to tell you more!
Animal Cruelty & Rescue
- How do I report animal cruelty?
In the cities of Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park, you can contact the Michigan Humane Society’s Cruelty Investigation Hotline at (313) 872-3401. Outside of that area, MHS lacks jurisdiction to investigate animal cruelty complaints, which should be reported to local law enforcement or animal control. Search for local police or animal control by clicking here.
Donations and Volunteering
- Where does my money go?
- I don’t have much money, but I’d still like to help. What can I do?
Why not volunteer? If you’re age 14 and up, we’d love your help in caring for the thousands of animals who come through our doors every year. Learn more at www.michiganhumane.org/volunteer.