2015 Year in Review

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For more than 138 years, the Michigan Humane Society (MHS) has served as a voice for the animals of Southeast Michigan and an advocate for those everywhere. There are only two things that have remained constant in all that time: our principles, and change. We are as committed as ever to providing a better life for the animals we share our lives with, yet the manner in which we do so is constantly evolving.

Today, we are saving lives like we never have; we are implementing new programs to better the lives and outcomes of the animals, both in our shelters and in our community; we remain on the cutting edge of best practices; and we are constantly asking ourselves “what’s next?”. MHS is constantly evolving, yet our singular guiding principle remains the same: to save lives.

2015 was an incredible year for MHS. However, there is still much to be done: a better model must be established in the City of Detroit; preventative programs need to be more accessible and widespread in our community; collaboration must replace animosity among animal welfare organizations; there are still animal lives out there to be impacted. We are committed to using the incredible successes of the past year as a foundation to even greater things this year. We need your help. Whether you can adopt, foster, donate, volunteer, advocate, or all of the above – please walk alongside us.

“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”
– Thomas Jefferson

Over the past 138 years, through the support of our community, MHS has saved countless lives and impacted countless more. Still, the future has even more potential and we are filled with anticipation and excitement. We are dreaming big this year!

– Matthew Pepper, President and CEO

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Sugar Ray, a blind Cattle Dog mix, poses with his new adoptive family!

11,000+ Adoptions and Placements

11,172 to be exact! That’s 11,172 individual lives saved and 11,172 families who chose adoption. That’s 11,172 animals who are now warm, safe and loved, and 11,172 families who are now fuller and happier. Most importantly, it’s not the number of animals that matters most; rather that each of these adoptions and placements represents a life – a life who you helped to positively transform.

We could never have done this without supporters like you. Adoptions don’t happen in a day, they happen over days and sometimes weeks or months, leading up to an animal finding a forever home.

An adoption doesn’t happen just because a loving family picks out a wonderful animal companion and signs a piece of paper. Adoptions happen because people know when they can no longer care for an animal, we will. They happen because our cruelty investigation and rescue teams are on the streets, rescuing the sick, the emaciated, the abused. They happen because we are able to provide animals with veterinary care the moment they come through our doors, and because we are able to provide them with a warm, safe bed and nutritious food. Adoptions happen because our foster caregivers provide those in need with a little extra time and TLC and because our animal behavior team creates individual training plans for those who need a little extra help. Adoptions happen because toys and blankets are donated to keep animals busy and cozy. They happen because, when an overlooked animal needs a bit more visibility, our supporters share their photo on social media. Adoptions happen because when people think of adopting, they think of MHS. And when someone chooses adoption, resources free up for the next animal in need. Adoptions happen because when others adopt, they gush to their family and friends how great the MHS adoption experience is and how much that pet has already become a part of the family. Adoptions happen because when people are able to donate, they choose to donate to MHS.

Adoptions and positive placements happen because of you. Together, we were able to make all of this happen, 11,172 times, just last year.

We worked especially hard encouraging people to adopt through a number of creative promotions. Our “Cat Independence Days” Fourth of July promotion blew our expectations out of the water, with 209 cats adopted in just three days. And later, when we partnered with our good friends at Strategic Staffing Solutions to celebrate their 25th anniversary with $25 adoption fees – the result: our shelters were nearly emptied.

All year long, we recognized those who keep our country safe with our Pets for Patriots reduced-fee adoptions, and gave them an extra-special thank-you on Veteran’s Day with fee-waived adoptions. In late December, we celebrated our supporters who were on Santa’s “nice” list by offering them a fee-waived cat adoption. These and other efforts added up to saving more lives.

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Detroit community members and MHS staff pose at an open house for the new Detroit Animal Care Campus.

Advancements for Animal Welfare in Detroit

MHS continues to be a leading force for animal welfare in the city of Detroit.

In 2015, we took in more than 7,000 animals at our Detroit Center for Animal Care alone. The majority of these animals arrived at MHS with significant medical or behavioral issues.

We founded the PAWS in the D coalition, a collaborative group of animal welfare organizations whose efforts and expertise are focused on the needs of animals within Detroit. These organizations work to utilize the limited resources of each group in a collective way to maximize the reach and benefit for the city’s animals.

MHS continues to take animals from DAC into our care, helping them on the path to their forever homes. Additionally, MHS also continues to supply the pet food and vaccinations required by DAC to care for their animals at no cost to DAC. Furthermore, it is MHS that helped solidify the lines of communication between animal welfare organizations and the city of Detroit as DAC opened their doors to allow rescues to pull animals for adoption.

Construction on MHS’ new Detroit Animal Care Campus is nearing completion. Scheduled to open in early 2016, this state-of-the-art facility will provide the infrastructure to exponentially increase our impact on animal care, treatment and well-being for decades to come. What started the year as a plot of dirt has become an impressive facility ready to enhance our already significant efforts to save lives now and in the future.

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MHS Emergency Rescue team members cut a chain off a dog left at an abandoned house.

Cruelty Investigation and Emergency Rescue

The MHS Cruelty Investigators responded to 5,557 cruelty calls last year in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park. A major part of our cruelty investigation team’s role in the community is educating pet owners about responsible pet ownership in all its forms, including proper shelter, food and veterinary care. And, of course, strongly encourage people to keep their pets indoors.

And every day, the MHS Rescue team rushes to the aid of stray and wild animals in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park who are injured, sick or trapped. The team responded to 3,322 calls in 2015.

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Pet owners line up to take advantage of low-cost vaccinations and microchips at an MHS Protect-A-Pet clinic.

Keeping Families Together

While each animal who comes to MHS receives the highest quality care on their way to a new forever home, it would be ideal if those animals never became homeless in the first place. Helping to keep animals in good homes is essential to reducing the homeless animal population.

One of the biggest needs for families struggling with financial issues – and sometimes the deciding factor in whether they can keep their animals – is pet food. In 2015, we served 6,305 low-income families by providing them with pet food free of charge. We rely on food donations to keep this free pet food bank service up and running, and we have found the need is substantial.

Helping pet owners to spay or neuter their animals at no or low cost also helps keep animals out of shelters by reducing the number of unwanted litters. In 2015, we sterilized 11,909 animals at our veterinary centers, distributed 331 free sterilization certificates for pit bull type dogs, and sterilized 699 feral cats through our Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program. We also sterilize each animal that is adopted from MHS. That’s a total of 24,111 animals who will not be contributing to the breeding population of unwanted litters!

We also microchipped 8,498 animals in 2015, which means more than 8,000 animals have an easy route home if they are ever lost! 2,000 of those microchips were distributed at no cost to cat owners as part of a free microchip promotion.

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A child reads to a kitten who is being fostered by her family.

Saving Lives Through Foster Care

Some animals who come into our care require a little extra time and TLC before they’re ready to be adopted into loving homes. Sometimes they’re not old enough to be adopted, sometimes they need extra socialization or time out of the shelter, sometimes they’re recovering from injury, and often times they have an illness, such as an upper respiratory infection. That’s where our foster caregivers come in. These amazing volunteers provide short-term care for shelter animals until they’re ready to be adopted.

In 2015, 1,105 kittens, 512 cats, 196 puppies, 251 dogs, and 59 reptiles, birds and small animals benefitted from a short-term stay in more than 300 MHS foster homes across metro Detroit. That’s 2,123 more lives saved, thanks to the compassionate caregivers who were willing to open their homes and hearts to animals in need.

Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate even got involved as a foster parent with MHS!

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An MHS volunteer gives some extra attention to a cat at the Berman Center for Animal Care.

Our Amazing Volunteers

Collectively, our volunteers donated more than 42,000 hours of service last year alone. Our volunteers go above and beyond every day for the animals in MHS’ care. That is 42,000 hours ensuring dogs are walked, cats are cuddled, animals are photographed for the website, and our adoption and fundraising events are running smoothly.

But that number, 42,000 hours, doesn’t tell the full story of that one high energy dog our volunteers stay late with every time they’re at the shelter so she can run an extra 10 minutes outside. Or the shy cat they got to know so they could tell adopters all about the great qualities hidden under his introverted exterior. It doesn’t factor in the effort of lovingly crafting cozy blankets so our animals have comfort, nor the time spent raising thousands of dollars for our Mutt March and Mega March for Animals events, the garage sales, parties, or the Christmas light shows put on to support to the animals. The simple fact is MHS could not exist without our volunteers!

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Animal welfare professionals pose at the 2015 Great Lakes Animal Welfare Conference “Bright Ideas” session – where people from around the state shared stories of how they improved the lives of animals in their shelters or communities.

Collaboration with Other Animal Welfare Organizations

While MHS works to save lives in metro Detroit and beyond, we have always stressed that the job ahead of us is too big for any one organization. This is why we feel it is important to foster a cooperative animal welfare community in Detroit and the state of Michigan.

MHS works with hundreds of rescue groups and animal shelters both to transfer animals into our facilities when other organizations need assistance and to transfer animals out of our facilities that can be better served with another, more specialized animal welfare organization. This year we took in 2,498 animals from other organizations in order to provide opportunities at life.

The Great Lakes Animal Welfare Conference saw 398 animal welfare professionals and volunteers from Michigan and 17 other states gather to learn from experts from around the country. We also continued to host our “Visit, Share, Learn” sessions, where we invite staff from other animal organizations to see how we run day-to-day operations at MHS.

In 2015, we launched another key initiative designed specifically to improve the interaction and outcomes for the fine men and women of our local law enforcement agencies and animals. The MHS Law Enforcement Training Academy was designed to help law enforcement organizations learn about several key issues, including: animal behavior in the field, Michigan animal law (including the legal implications when dogs are shot by law enforcement), dog fighting awareness, animals as evidence, and human violence and animal cruelty in our Law Enforcement Training Academies. Last year we presented to Oakland County, Macomb County and the Detroit Police Department and there is much more to come.

Thanks to you, our amazing community and your most significant and committed support, we were able to drastically impact the animals and citizens of Metro Detroit an beyond – and we are resolved in our ability to make your continued support go even further in 2016 and save more lives!

Thank you.

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