Discussion: New Intake Process at MI Humane Society

In 2011, the Michigan Humane Society killed 67% of the dogs and cats in its care despite the fact that it does not hold an animal control contract.  In January 2013, MHS will implement a new policy on owner surrendered pets, which will be done by appointment:

[Y]our pet will be evaluated by a trained MHS evaluator for health and temperament, the results of which we will discuss with you after the evaluation is completed. At this point, we will tell you whether or not your pet would be a good candidate for adoption.   If so, the animal will be placed up for adoption immediately. If not, we will discuss other options, which can include finding an alternate home for the animal, sharing information that can help resolve any problem issues the pet has, or in some cases, humane euthanasia.

The evaluator is neither a behaviorist nor a veterinarian.  Owners will be asked to pay a $28 surrender fee.

Do you think the new intake process will help curb the killing at MHS in 2013?  Could it make things worse?  Or do you see the change as having no significant impact on the killing there?

(Thanks Jennifer for sending me this link.)

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24 Comments

  1. I think they should use a trained behaviorist, of course. But the rest of it sounds like it could be helpful to humans who believe they have no alternatives, when they actually might: training, re-homing in another way, etc. And it is at least more honest than some people have encountered at kill shelters when their surrendered pets were killed immediately without the benefit of this counseling. It’s similar to the process that Charlottesville SPCA uses, and they are no-kill: http://caspca.org/services/giving-up-your-pet/surrendering-your-pet-to-the-spca/

    Reply
    • Karen

       /  December 31, 2012

      At the risk of sounding cynical, this just sounds like a PR exercise in an attempt to improve their public image.
      Attractive, sale-able animals will be deemed adoptable and the rest will get the big sleep. Business as usual.

      Reply
  2. Also, I wanted to share a story about a family I encountered when I was running a rescue. They had one adopted dog (from another rescue) with severe skin allergies. They claimed to have “tried everything” and eventually surrendered the dog to the local Humane Society, which had about a 37% kill rate at the time, because the dog was rubbing his ears on the carpet and staining it. While they were at the Humane Society, they noticed that there was an “older dog” special going on, so they decided to surrender their older dog as well. I think a little counseling session about their dogs’ chances for adoption versus a death sentence might have save these dogs’ lives.

    Reply
  3. This is a tough one. For some people to think about spending $28 to have a dog evaluated that they really don’t want (and let’s face it, that’s why the majority of them get taken to shelters because most apartment situations are workable, there is help out there for people who’d like to keep their animals but are very short on funds – resources are out there rather than a shelter) isn’t going to fly. Why should they bother when they can dump the animal somewhere, like the woman in California who tried to turn in the 18 y/o dog and the shelter told her to try and work with the dog because it was so elderly so she went across the street and left it in a public place – mercifully, the shelter was watching her and took the dog and it’s been rehomed, or at least is safe). >I’m assuming they “humanely euthanize” animals at the shelter you’re talking about. What I’d like to see happen is for everyone who comes to the shelter to dump a dog be made to watch a video of what happens in that room, the black bags, and where the black bags are stored and finally go. And of course, must watching would be the heartstick and gassing shelter videos before anyone leaves an animal at a shelter. That might make a big difference. This – to me – no, not gonna make a lot of difference.

    ________________________________

    Reply
    • Andrea

       /  December 31, 2012

      You bring up a great point. I would like to know what would happen if people had to watch videos of animals getting gassed or stabbed in the heart. Perhaps the commercials on tv should show that instead of cats missing an eye and dirty puppies.

      Reply
      • Eucritta

         /  December 31, 2012

        It’s been tried. It doesn’t produce positive results.

        On the resources available to help people keep their pets, I also think we need to look at how well-advertised they are. In my community, for instance, most are not – and it’s not easy to find them, either.

        Then, too, I think we need to think about what we really want. There seems to be this assumption that if only people attempting surrender could be persuaded or guilt-tripped into keeping their pets, it will somehow all work out. But is this true, or is it so much wishful thinking?

      • Eucritta

         /  December 31, 2012

        To add a bit – in the story about the California woman who was turned away when she tried to surrender her 18-year-old dog, and who then abandoned the dog nearby … who was served by the shelter’s refusal? If they were sufficiently concerned to then monitor the woman as she left, what good did they actually expect to come of turning the dog away?

  4. Dr Betty Schueler

     /  December 31, 2012

    What I see happening is a whole bunch of animals discarded on highways and near farms. Litters of kittens and puppies will be put in pillow cases and drowned.

    It is a terribly misguided way to handle the situation. I have personally witnessed what happens when shelters charge an intake fee.

    The shelter, in our area, charges a heafty fee so animals are simply abandoned near the gate which is on a busy, two-lane back road. The cars kill the animals thus saving the shelter from having to be held responsible for their deaths.

    In the hopes of ending this a couple, in our county, has started a no-kill group. It will take awhile to get the resources together, to handle all the animals in need of our services, but we are trying to make a positie difference.

    Michigan needs to look into the no-kill philosophy and put it to use. Their current, and proposed, policies are both badly flawed and inhumane. I am sure the citizens of Michigan would be outraged to know how their money is being wasted and used for the wholesale slaughter of their pets.

    Reply
  5. It will certainly alter their *numbers.*

    It is pretty clear that they will only be accepting pets that require NO additional work– either health or behavioral — in order to be “adoptable.” Previous intelligence on this organization indicates that their definition of “adoptable” is pretty restrictive.

    So yes, an epidemic of pit bulls left tied to light poles and litters of kitties left boxed in alleys is in Michigan’s future.

    Reply
  6. KarenJ

     /  December 31, 2012

    A key in this to me is that they will tell the owner innediately IF their animal is a candidate for adoption through their program – if not – they will counsel the owner about “finding an alternate home” for the animal? WAIT – the animal is not good enough for MHS – but they may know of other “alternate” homes – read – LESS than good? It doesn’t make any sense. My experience with Humane Societies has been dismal. I KNOW there are good ones out there – but every single one I’ve worked with is ALL ABOUT raising money and paying their officers…a little club. I too see many more animals DUMPED but MHS won’t have dirty hands then will they??

    Reply
  7. Jim

     /  December 31, 2012

    Michigan Humane Society is only in the Detroit area ( I believe ). It is a local humane society like so many others. jmho , but it isn’t a very good one, at its best. People already scream if they have to pay to take an animal in. Yep, more dumped critters is what you will be seeing. These people do not want counseling, 90% have discovered there is more effort required to owning a pet than they are willing to put out. Most have not put out much effort and their pets need serious training they were never willing to provide. A whole lot of them are not smart enough to train a dog anyway. You might get some to sit still for counseling, as long as the end result is you take the critter and they don’t pay you anything.

    Reply
  8. mikken

     /  December 31, 2012

    It sounds like the mission of “sheltering” has fallen by the wayside. Or maybe they never knew what it meant in the first place.

    Reply
    • db

       /  January 2, 2013

      BINGO! They are not all that interested in actual, you know, sheltering of the animals they receive.

      Reply
  9. Once upon a time I was in contact via email with these folks after writing a letter telling them that I would no longer support them financially and questioning their statistics. I was told that they would not change what they considered adoptable simply to pad their statistics. I agree that it’s a giant PR stunt – there has been much negative publicity about those in charge and even calling for resignation of the CEOs from former board members.
    They don’t listen, they don’t care, they have a ton of money.
    This does not bode well for the animals of the greater Detroit area. (Although the main office is located in the City, other branches are located in one of the most wealthy communities in the state.)
    So, my vote is simply for better PR. And, unfortunately, too many people will believe what they say.

    Reply
  10. And yet , My local high kill shelter , in SC , continues to work with MHS – as a “rescue partner”. When I questioned this practice , local shelter blocked my from their FB page…..

    Reply
    • Karen

       /  January 1, 2013

      That attitude prevails the world over in too many of these organisations, Tami. Any criticism or questions result in arbitrary excommunication. It is a culture of consummate arrogance and tyranny.

      Reply
  11. I would vote for a two minute video showing the surrendering person all the methods of murder on pets.. one video could save some pets.

    Reply
  12. It sounds like it is attempting to limit intake, but not necessarily implementing changes that would allow them to go No-Kill. Sure, if you only take 1 of 10 animals in and adopt them out, you are No-Kill. I think could help their Live Release Rate some although not definitively. After all, it doesn’t matter their intake if they want to keep on killing. All they require is the desire to keep killing. There are a number of cases where owners can and will keep from surrendering their animals if they can, for example, if an owner needs help with training or needs temporary boarding due to surgery or illness and if presented with death as the alternate option may be more inclined to find something else, preferably, the HS can provide solutions to those problems to help the animals stay with their owners. There are owners who will gladly hold onto their pets for a few days if they are given realistic and workable options while people attempt to rehome, help them with temporary boarding, or provide training solutions. There is also going to be a group who sees pets as disposable and will dump them there or somewhere else who will be angry that they have to pay or wait. With these changes, hopefully, we won’t hear about how someone was told their dog would be fine and then killed an hour later…

    Reply
    • db

       /  January 3, 2013

      They aren’t all that interested in being a no-kill shelter. My local humane society is limited admission, although to their credit they do provide assistance with behaviors, food, etc when possible. They do not “kill for space” but do kill for litter box problems, biting, etc.

      Michigan Humane is anything but . . . but they do send out some really nice glossy literature with pictures of happy cats and dogs with smiling people and Girl Scout troops donating supplies to them. If only people knew what happened to so many of their animals.

      Reply
      • “Litter box problems” is an offense punishable by death? Gee, that would be shocking news to the many owners who live with cats with litter box problems as well as the owners who have outdoor cats.

      • mikken

         /  January 3, 2013

        I’ve got a “litter box problem” cat right now. It’s been my experience that having out of box issues can be a useful diagnostic tool for hidden medical problems. You don’t kill a cat simply because it has a UTI or something. Well, I don’t, anyway.

      • Well apparently you are a hoarder mikken.

  13. I don’t trust them. I’ll wait and see!

    Reply
  14. Callie Fitzgerald

     /  January 7, 2013

    I think the counseling sounds like a great idea. I don’t know why that wouldn’t be implemented upon every owner surrender. If it changes one person’s mind or helps them to keep the animal temporarily it is less space taken up for another animal. I did see something on Pit Boss the other night where they volunteered at a California shelter for a new program called Intervention. They got cursed out by one guy but talked another family into keeping the dog they found a few more days so they could find a foster. It just baffles me that the staff can’t spend a few minutes at least to just discuss the other options available.

    Reply

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