Surrendering an animal is hard.
It should be hard. A pet is a commitment and not one to be taken lightly. It can be easy to vilify someone who surrenders an animal.
While it is true that there are people who, frankly, should not own animals and do not value them as companions, many people who come to the Michigan Humane Society to surrender an animal are good, compassionate people in bad situations. Often, I would say it is one of the highest forms of compassion to admit a beloved pet is better served by living with another family.
At the Michigan Humane Society, our intake lobby, more appropriately titled our “second chances center”, is not a place of lost hope, but rather the pathway to various important programs we collectively call “keeping families together” and an introduction to our incredible placement programs.
Let’s start with the process.
When someone makes the difficult decision to surrender an animal to MHS, we schedule an appointment for them. In the time between the call and the appointment, our “keeping families together” programs are mobilized. An MHS representative will contact that person and dig deeper into the situation.
Not “do you want to surrender your pet?” but rather “why are you surrendering your pet?”
Perhaps the person has lost their job, a very real issue in Detroit in recent years, and cannot afford to feed their pet.
Thanks to our generous supporters, community members and our friends at Purina, MHS has a pet food bank for families in need. We can help you.
Perhaps there are behavioral issues the owner feels unable to correct.
MHS has experts in animal behavior that can talk you through various issues. We can help you.
Perhaps there is something medically wrong with your pet, and you don’t know where to turn.
MHS operates three veterinary centers adjacent to our three animal shelters. We have incredibly skilled and compassionate veterinarians. We can help you.
“Keeping families together” is core to who we are. A true community animal welfare organization does not just function within the walls of a shelter – it functions as part of a community. Keeping animals OUT of even the most advanced shelters and in good, loving homes is just as important as the work we do caring for the animals in our facilities.
Surrendering a pet should, without exception, be a last resort. MHS is not intended to be an organization of convenience. With that said, there are instances for which keeping the pet is not an option. We no longer should view that as the end of the story, but rather the opening of a new chapter.
MHS has an incredible team that provides model care for animals at all of our facilities; from diet, to veterinary care, to socialization, the list goes on. From there, healthy and treatable animals fall into our various placement programs. In 2015, MHS placed more than 11,100 animals. In 2016, we are on pace to place even more and, so far this year, every healthy AND every treatable animal has found a new home!
One might read this and be concerned that I am encouraging people to surrender their animals. This could not be further from the truth. What I am saying is that MHS, and most shelters across the country, have become incredible community resources that are filled with compassionate professionals, hope, and well-managed programs to help address the complex needs of our diverse communities. MHS is committed to “keeping families together” above all and, at our core, we are a place of hope and second chances and a vital resource to the citizens, both two- and four-legged, we serve.