Detroit Zoo partners with shelters for large-scale pet adoption event

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published May 15, 2018

 People check out dogs up for adoption during the May 2017 Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo event at the Detroit Zoo. The free event will take place May 18-19 this year.

People check out dogs up for adoption during the May 2017 Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo event at the Detroit Zoo. The free event will take place May 18-19 this year.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Greyson, a 6- to 8-month-old cat, came to the Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo event in May 2017 with Pet Adoption Alternative of Warren.

Greyson, a 6- to 8-month-old cat, came to the Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo event in May 2017 with Pet Adoption Alternative of Warren.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

ROYAL OAK — Organizers of the Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo event are pretty confident that, this year, one family will take home the 25,000th pet, a tally that has been rising since the inaugural event 26 years ago.

The free adoption event will take place in the front parking lot of the Detroit Zoo from 1 to 7 p.m. Friday, May 18, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 19. More than 30 organizations will bring more than 600 cats, dogs and rabbits to display below the zoo’s iconic water tower.

“This event is truly unique because of its incredible size and impact,” said Matthew Pepper, president and CEO of the Michigan Humane Society. “It is a celebration of how much our pets mean to us, and a great opportunity to add a new member to your family through adoption. This event is an amazing example of the power of collaboration and compassion.”

Patricia Janeway, communications director for the Detroit Zoological Society, said the event takes place in the spring and in the fall, and that it is the largest off-site companion animal adoption event in the state.

“It’s a wonderful event. We hear from adopters year after year telling us how happy they are with their new four-legged best friends,” Janeway said. “People post pictures on our Facebook page of dogs they adopted 10 years ago.”

She said the event also is great for shelters and rescues, because some of them don’t get a lot of foot traffic and they are able to showcase their animals to a large audience.

“The goal at the end of the event is empty cages,” she said.

She said there are also areas where the public can become acquainted with animals outside of their cages to see if they are a perfect fit.

“We have families. We have couples. We have single people looking for a roommate — all kinds of people with hearts looking to adopt an animal in need of a loving home,” Janeway said.

New this year, Janeway said Suburban Subaru of Troy would present a check to the Detroit Zoological Society and Michigan Humane Society for $69,627.93 from its seven-week Subaru Share the Love event, which offered Subaru buyers the option to donate $250 of their new car purchase to the cause.

She said the dealership would also hand out care packages to all who adopt during the event.

“We really hope for good weather. It really brings people out, but people have come out in all kinds of weather if it’s in their heart to adopt a pet,” Janeway said.

The event first took place at the zoo in 1993 with the hire of Detroit Zoological Society CEO Ron Kagan, who forged the partnership with the Michigan Humane Society.

“Someone suggested to him the Detroit Zoo open a shelter for animals,” she said. “It wasn’t really practical to open a shelter here, but he thought it would be great for people to come to the zoo and adopt a dog or a cat or a rabbit that needed a good home.”

Janeway said the zoo has worked with the Michigan Humane Society since the beginning, and that the Michigan Humane Society has been “very valuable” in terms of vetting which animal welfare organizations participate.

Shaun Bailey, public relations specialist for the Michigan Humane Society, said the event’s total number of adoptions to date stands at 24,736. The first spring event resulted in 90 adoptions; last spring, the number of adoptions totaled 556, he said.

“Even though we’re the Michigan Humane Society, we can’t accomplish the important work that needs to be done without the help of our many partners throughout the state,” Bailey said. “That’s why we have events like Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo and host a conference every year in Battle Creek to gather partners together, and why we reach out to other agencies and nonprofits and respond to their calls as well.”

For more information, visit www.michiganhumane.org/zoo or call 866-MHUMANE.

The Detroit Zoo is located at 8450 W. 10 Mile Road, north of Woodward Avenue. The next Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo will take place Sept. 14-15.