Dance team donates more than $1,700 for shelter addition

Funds coming together to provide animals with more room

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published May 8, 2014

 Members of the dance team at Lamphere High raised more than $1,700 in a bottle drive benefitting the Madison Heights Animal Shelter, which is adding a new wing to the building that will help separate the cats from the dogs.

Members of the dance team at Lamphere High raised more than $1,700 in a bottle drive benefitting the Madison Heights Animal Shelter, which is adding a new wing to the building that will help separate the cats from the dogs.

Photo provided by Suzette Gysel

MADISON HEIGHTS — At peak capacity, the Madison Heights Animal Shelter gets a bit crowded. Space is limited, so the cats have to be kept in cages above the dogs or next to them. And this can stress out the animals so much that they become sick and are no longer adoptable.

That’s why Suzette Gysel, the city’s animal control officer, is collecting money for the construction of a 16-foot-long addition to the north side of the building at 801 Ajax, where the cats will have their own room separate from the dogs. This will provide more space for the dogs at the shelter, as well. The shelter won’t be able to take in more animals, so they will still have to aggressively find homes for them. But at least the animals will be healthier and happier in the meantime.

The shelter addition has been approved by the city, and Gysel recently secured a $30,000 grant for the project through an anonymous foundation. At press time, she was also waiting to hear from Home Depot regarding a possible $8,000 grant that would provide for construction supplies and a new washer, dryer and freezer. However, the overall cost of the project is $40,000, which still leaves them short of their goal.

That’s where the community comes in. Gysel has been selling shelter-themed T-shirts and sweatshirts, raising $1,350 for the shelter addition. Some people opted to make a donation without ordering a T-shirt or sweatshirt.

And now the varsity and junior varsity dance teams at Lamphere High have pulled through with more than $1,700 from a bottle drive they held back in March. The check was presented to the shelter at the end of April. 

They had read about the shelter’s situation in the Madison-Park News and decided to hold a bottle drive like the one they held for the Madison Heights Memorial Day Parade four or five years ago. In that drive, they raised more than $1,400.

“At 10 cents a bottle, that’s a lot of bottle,” Gysel said. “When they first approached me and told me what they planned to do, I was very pleasantly surprised, and I was thrilled they wanted to do this for our city and for our shelter animals. But then they emailed me and said, ‘We raised more than $1,700,’ and I thought it was a typo. I can’t even imagine how many bottles they had to return — it’s mind-boggling! And they did all of the work, as far as sending out the fliers, collecting the bottles and so on.”

Karra Hurkett, head coach of the Lamphere dance team, said her team separated into groups and each worked on a different part of the city, passing out fliers March 21 and returning March 23 to collect the bottles.

“Some parents brought trucks, and some girls filled up their cars. We went to grocery stores all over the city, and we had to make multiple trips and wait in long lines,” Hurkett said. “I was really surprised at the outreach we had, with people contacting me on Facebook to deliver their bottles when they heard of it. We had friends and family of the team who donated. My dentist even donated. And some girls even sent me pictures of the houses they visited — one house had 20 cases of beer bottles on their front porch.”

Hurkett said the team was surprised to learn about the limited space at the shelter.

“We rallied together,” Hurkett said. “We’re happy the (new addition) is going to be a substantial improvement for the animals.” 

Any leftover funds from the donations will go to spaying and neutering the animals at the shelter — another challenge this year, since the shelter was not selected for a grant that, in past years, helped pay for the procedure. Spaying and neutering keeps the animals healthy and avoids adding to the homeless animal population.

“We’re just taking it on an animal-by-animal basis for the time being,” Gysel said.

The shelter isn’t the only organization raising money to help animals. A key partner of theirs, the Silver Lake Animal Rescue League, is holding a fundraiser from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday, May 20, at the Madison Heights Big Boy, 30460 John R, with Big Boy donating 20 percent of proceeds when you present a special flier at the cashier.

To print out copies of the flier, visit the shelter’s Facebook page at shelter.

Gysel said she feels encouraged by the success of the Lamphere dance team’s bottle drive and the success of the shelter’s T-shirt and sweatshirt sale.

“It shows how Madison Heights residents are passionate about the animals at the shelter,” Gysel said. “They continue to amaze me with their compassion and their willingness to help.”