Animal Control now offering open adoptions at Gibraltar

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published September 5, 2015 | Updated September 8, 2015 9:29am

MOUNT CLEMENS — Gibraltar Trade Center ended retail pet sales at its Mount Clemens public market after not renewing the lease for LittleDogz pet sales, formerly called Pollywood Pets.

That was back in April.

Four weeks ago, the Macomb County Animal Control Office made it possible for the 600,000-square-foot weekend market to maintain a “puppy friendly” policy by offering Saturday open adoptions.

On Aug. 29, a ceremonial ribbon cutting ceremony was held at Gibraltar as a celebration of increasing pet adoptions in the community.

The event was attended by local leaders including Macomb County Animal Control Director Jeff Randazzo, county Executive Mark Hackel, Mount Clemens Mayor Barb Dempsey, and members of the Humane Society of the United States and the Teacher’s Pet Program, which supports the county’s animal control and adoption efforts.

Jill Fritz, Michigan senior state director for the HSUS, said Gibraltar can be commended for “taking a stand against inhumane puppy mills” and being a leader in the humane economy, where businesses and industries that practice humane principles flourish.

“The Gibraltar Trade Center is a shining example of the right things to do,” Fritz said. “This should be a blueprint for every community in the United States.”

The HSUS estimates that 2 million to 4 million puppies sold in the U.S. every year come from puppy mills, which are large-scale inhumane breeding facilities. Puppy mills contribute to the pet overpopulation problem, which results in about the same number of pets euthanized at shelters every year. Documented puppy mill conditions include overbreeding, inbreeding, minimal veterinary care, poor food and shelter, crowded cages and lack of socialization.

LittleDogz, which now operates elsewhere in the county, has been the focus of protest efforts over the years from animal rights activists who complained that they sold sickly animals and kept the dogs and cats in inhumane conditions at their Gibraltar store. The owners have over the years denied the accusations, and even invited those outside the animal rights group to their store to see for themselves how they operate.

Gibraltar also announced that it has joined more than 2,300 other businesses in signing the Puppy Friendly Pet Stores pledge with the HSUS. Gibraltar now showcases adoptable dogs and cats every Saturday from Macomb County Animal Control in conjunction with the Teacher’s Pet Program and volunteers.

Teacher’s Pet is an intervention program that pairs troubled youth with hard-to-adopt shelter dogs for a multi-week workshop in positive, reward-based dog training and behavior modification in an effort to make the dogs more adoptable. Teacher’s Pet meets twice a week, two hours a day with the Macomb County Juvenile Justice Center, Oakland County’s Children’s Village, Crossroads for Youth and Kingsley Montgomery School.

Volunteer Frank Casali, of St. Clair Shores, said he’s so thrilled with Gibraltar’s efforts that he’s promised to pay the adoption fees for anyone who adopts a cat at the market on a Saturday through the month September.

“It will be free. I will cover it,” he said. “Why not?”

Casali said that since county Animal Control set up shop at Gibraltar, five adoptable cats have found new homes. Adoption fees at Gibraltar Trade Center are $27 for cats and between $40 and $200 for dogs, depending on the level of medical services already received.

Animal Control Officer Lisa Rabine, also a board member for the Teacher’s Pet Program, said they are up to 16 adoptions at Gibraltar alone as of Aug. 28. They currently only accept cash or checks for adoption fees.

Dempsey knew well the efforts of local animal rights activists who regularly attended City Commission meetings, held public meetings in the city and staged protests outside Gibraltar.

“It’s been a long road for them,” Dempsey said. “And I’m really pleased to see this is happening, that (Gibraltar) is offering this space (to the county). We have so many animals (in Mount Clemens) that are picked up (by Animal Control) and need to be adopted.”

Randazzo said Macomb County Animal Control/Shelter has adopted a no-kill philosophy and will make every effort to promote pet adoptions of healthy, nonaggressive animals by the general public and by approved animal rescue organizations. To reduce the number of homeless pets, Animal Control will ensure that all dogs and cats are spayed or neutered prior to adoption.

Leonard resident Jenifer Measel, the attorney for the local animal rights group, attended the ribbon cutting at Gibraltar simply to show her support. She ended up adopting a 4-year-old male Pomeranian named Percy.

“I wasn’t planning on adopting him because we (she and her husband) have three other rescues: two miniature pinschers and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel,” Measel said. “I don’t know if we’ll keep the name, though. I’ll let my husband name him.”

Open adoptions at Gibraltar Trade Center, 237 North River Road in Mount Clemens, are held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday. Animals can also be adopted at Macomb County Animal Control/Shelter for a small donation from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays at 21417 Dunham Road in Clinton Township.