In April, Melissa Shedd went shopping for a cat. But she doesn’t like breeders, so she went she went to the Capital Area Humane Society (CAHS) and ended up walking out with two.
“It was a buy one, get one free deal,” Shedd, a communication junior at Lansing Community College, said. “They were sisters so they wanted them to be kept together.”
Shedd’s adoption also spurred her to go back every couple weeks to volunteer at the humane society. She mostly spends her time playing with kittens, but also brushes and walks dogs.
“Once you saw it in action, it was a beautiful thing,” Shedd said.
The CAHS is run entirely on donations and receives 6,000 to 7,000 animals a year. About 4,000 of these animals are then adopted into homes, according to program manager and volunteer coordinator Stasi Bates.
“We usually have about 100 to 300 animals at a time,” said Bates, “We have about 200 right now, but we’re bursting at the seams with cat litters in the summer.”
Bates said the numbers at the CAHS have increased since she started working there ten years ago.
“Due to the economy, there are people who are left without the resources to care for pets anymore,” Bates said. “We only accept pets that are surrendered from families, not strays.”
Bates said there are countless reasons families surrender pets, including lack of money and time. But the CAHS has put several new initiatives into place to help the pets that come to them. They have built four new runs outside to help cure kennel cough and respiratory infections and built larger quarantine areas to give sick cats and dogs more time to be treated before they are introduced with the rest of the animals. There is also a behavior hotline for people who are concerned they may have to surrender a pet after adopting, so that one-on-one issues can be dealt with.
“We all have to be responsible pet owners,” Bates said. “It pets are acting up, there’s usually a reason for it.”
Bates said the CAHS has also partnered with local pet stores to help get the word out about their pets and now have cats living full time at the PetSmart in Okemos. She said the CAHS is also a part of the Rescue Wagon through PetSmart Charities, so that animals from southern states where the facilities would have to euthanize them are shipped up the CAHS where they can be taken care of instead.
“We do euthanize animals, but in the 10 years that I’ve been here, we’ve cut euthanasia by 50 percent,” Bates said. “At that time we weren’t treating animals for things like kennel cough and respiratory infection. Now we have a huge foster program as well.”
Bates said CAHS holds several large fundraising events throughout the year. She said the society had over 500 people at their annual Run and Walk For The Animals in late September, their biggest event of the year.
“It raised almost $73,000 and there are still donations trickling in, so we almost reached our goal,” Bates said.
The society also holds a fancier event called the Fur Ball, which costs $100 per plate and has a silent auction and a puppy parade, as well incorporating adoptable animals.
Animal science junior Alexa Buckley purchased a pit bull mix dog from the Detroit Humane Society 10 years ago. She said she has been very happy with her dog and would definitely adopt from a humane society again, even though her dog has a few behavioral issues.
“She can’t be contained or in a kennel, which might be because the person who owned her before went to jail,” Buckley said. “She’s bitten through a door and escaped through a metal cage and just has issues when we leave.”
Buckley said she is a big proponent for humane societies and went to one to adopt her dog mostly because of the money. It ended up being $100 including the fee to have her neutered.
“We loved that she was already potty trained,” Buckley said. “She was a puppy but we didn’t have to do all the puppy stuff.”
Buckley said she was surprised to find out humane societies do not receive any money from the government.
“We can’t just have wild dogs running around and humane societies give them places to stay,” Buckley said. “There would be major problems if we didn’t have humane societies, we’d notice issues.”
Music education sophomore Jessica Sandlund had a different view on the issue. Though she thinks humane societies are a great way of getting pets into happier homes, she said she does not want to see humane societies receiving money over schools or homeless shelters.
“I don’t want to see humane societies getting millions of dollars when there are people who need it more,” Sandlund said.
Sandlund’s family has bred soft-coated Wheaten terriers for the past eight years. Sandlund said it is a fun and semi-easy way to make some extra money, with each puppy being sold for about $1000.
“My brother made a website a few years ago and now we get puppy calls all the time,” Sandlund said. “We have a waiting list of about 15 people.”
Sandlund said the majority of their dogs are sold for pets and that they always try to find educated buyers for their puppies who know the breed well and know what they are getting themselves into. As far as she knows, none of their puppies have ended up being given to humane societies.
“We always encourage people to call us if they’re having problems because we have a lot of people waiting for dogs,” Sandlund said. “A family called us because they were having trouble with a dog about two years old and we called someone on our list and found a different house for it.”
Shedd said she does not like breeders, which was why she went to the CAHS to adopt her cats. “There animals are already out there,” Shedd said. “Why breed more?”
Bates said the majority of people who come to the humane society to adopt pets are young families and students who are away from their parents from the first time and are looking for a cat or dog to keep them company.
“The most rewarding part about working here is watching animals leave and knowing it’s a good match and that you’re not going to see them again,” Bates said.
Shedd said she might go back to a humane society in a few years to adopt again.
“Once I get settled, I might go get a dog,” Shedd said.