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Hazel Park, Madison Heights

Animal shelters receive sterilization grant

Funds will help defray steep cost of spaying, neutering

February 11, 2013

» click to enlarge «
Hazel Park Animal Control Officer Nikki Charbonneau cuddles with Stanley, a half-year-old corgi/collie mix found in the parking lot of Kmart several weeks ago. Stanley is currently available for adoption through the Madison Heights Animal Shelter.
This friendly feline was found two weeks ago.
Mikey is a chow/husky mix, 6 to 7 years old, surrendered to the shelter by a family that could no longer care for him. He was found chained outside in the cold, fur matted and dirty; the chain had to be cut off since the matted fur was so tangled around it. The Madison Heights shelter says he badly needs a loving family.

MADISON HEIGHTS/HAZEL PARK — When rescue organizations take animals out of the shelters in Madison Heights and Hazel Park, they incur the cost of spaying and neutering them. Sterilization not only prevents the animal from creating offspring in need of homes, but it makes them less prone to certain diseases, as well.

Last year, the shelters were able to front the cost themselves and save the cash-strapped rescues a lot of money, thanks to the Companion Animal Welfare Grant Fund. Awarded by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the competitive grant covers the costs of sterilization.

Last year was the first year it was available. Now the Madison Heights and Hazel Park shelters have secured the 2013 grant. Some 20 entities were awarded the grant this year.

“We don’t have any funding for spaying and neutering at either shelter; we’ve never had funding for spaying and neutering,” said Suzette Gysel, animal control officer for Madison Heights. “With the grant, we can go ahead and get that done for the rescues.”

Last year, the goal for Madison Heights and Hazel Park was to sterilize 181 animals between the two shelters, for a cost of $10,000 — 126 cats at $40 each, and 62 dogs at $80 each. Due to the late start date of mid-April, they didn’t hit their numbers, instead sterilizing 141 animals for a cost of $7,320, among them 99 cats and 42 dogs.

Sterilization was handled primarily through All About Animals Spay/Neuter Clinic. In the end, more than half of all animals — 54 percent — were sterilized before leaving both shelters. This year, the start date is February, so they expect to sterilize even more.

“The goal of sterilization, from the state’s perspective, is to get more spayed and neutered prior to leaving the shelter so they don’t increase the animal population,” Gysel said. “They want to see, if they give you this grant, you will make a difference and get this done ahead of time.

“I’d say 80 percent of the animals we get at the shelter are not fixed,” she added. “The animals that are not fixed are roaming around, getting impregnated or impregnating others. If they’re spayed and neutered, they wouldn’t have the drive they would, otherwise. And if you get them sterilized before their first heat, in the females’ case, you reduce their risk of getting cancer by 90 percent.”

The two shelters brought in nearly 650 animals in 2012, averaging a return-to-owner rate of nearly 37 percent, so that around 410 animals remained. Of those, nearly 300 were deemed adoptable. In Madison Heights, the save-rate was 82 percent; in Hazel Park, it was 85 percent.

“It was busier than usual,” said Nikki Charbonneau, the animal control officer for Hazel Park, looking back on 2012. “Had we not had the grant, I don’t think we would’ve had the save-rate we did.”

Gysel agreed.

“The grant helps (rescues) immensely,” Gysel said. “And the way we found it helps us at the shelters is when the rescues don’t have to incur this cost, they can get more animals adopted more quickly, which means they can pull more animals out of the shelter more quickly. We have found that the turnaround has increased.”

The Madison Heights Animal Shelter is located at 801 Ajax and can be reached at (248) 837-2745. The Hazel Park Animal Shelter is located at 24211 Couzens and can be reached at (248) 546-4096.

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