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Harper Woods

February 5, 2013

GPAAS lands state grant for animals in its adoption program

By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer

Less than a year after opening their doors to stray pets, the nonprofit Grosse Pointe Animal Adoption Society has already been recognized and rewarded with a state grant for its efforts.

Last month, GPAAS learned that it had received a $10,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development through the department’s Companion Animal Welfare program. The funds will be used to reimburse GPAAS for sterilization costs for unclaimed strays that are placed into their adoption program, explained GPAAS Executive Director Corinne Martin.

“We’re very excited about that,” she said of the grant.

The actual amount of money received by GPAAS will depend on the number of pets that are sterilized this year.

On April 1, 2012, GPAAS opened its first animal shelter on Harper, next to the Animal Urgent and Critical Care Center in Harper Woods. GPAAS doesn’t accept animals brought in by the public, nor is the small shelter open to visitors, but the 1,800-square-foot facility is the official site for injured and lost pets captured by law enforcement officials in Harper Woods, Grosse Pointe Woods and Grosse Pointe Shores, Martin said. Last year alone, she said they took in 224 strays, approximately 40 percent of which they were able to return to their homes. They can house about 35 animals at a time, Martin said.

GPAAS has a non-euthanasia adoption program, but Martin said they have had to put aggressive and feral cats and dogs to sleep. Last year, she said an estimated 20 of the animals they took in and weren’t able to reunite with their families had to be euthanized.

“We are as close to a no-kill (shelter) as there is,” Martin said. “But if we have a dangerous dog that the police bring to us, we have to euthanize it.”

In bite cases, for example, she said the police and public safety departments have specifically had to ask them to euthanize an animal. However, GPAAS won’t put an animal to sleep because of its breed or because of a lack of room, Martin said.

Animals that are brought in are checked for microchips to see if they can be reunited immediately with their families, she said. They’re also weighed and checked medically to see if they need particular care. If they aren’t claimed by their owners, they’re evaluated, vaccinated, sterilized and placed into the GPAAS foster program, Martin said. Although the nonprofit receives a discounted rate for sterilization, it still costs them about $150-$250 per animal, she said. Between shots, tests and other care, she said they only come close to breaking even on the expenses of caring for pets by charging a $295 adoption fee.

“For us, it’s huge,” Martin said of the grant. “And we feel really privileged. There’s only a handful of (organizations) throughout the state that received the grants.”

Only 20 of the 45 applicants received grants, according to the Department of Agriculture. The $10,000 grant GPAAS received is the largest grant any recipient can get.

The grant program is supported by donations.

“We highly encourage Michigan taxpayers to contribute funds on their tax returns to this important program,” state Veterinarian Steven Halstead said in a press release. “Since this program began, including the 2013 cycle, over $533,000 has been granted to 59 shelter projects in Michigan.”

The Michigan Humane Society was one of the major backers of the legislation that established the Companion Animal Welfare Fund in 2007. State taxpayers can donate to the fund through Schedule 4642, a state voluntary contribution form, or by logging onto www.michigan humane.org/tax.

“This is actually giving taxpayers across the state the opportunity to strengthen their communities,” said Kevin Hatman, public relations coordinator for the Michigan Humane Society. “They’re going to help save lives, get these animals off the street (and) help anti-cruelty programs. … (Donations) will go to support some very important programs in the state.”

The grants offer critical funding for rescue groups.

“Unfortunately, a lot of the smaller rescues around the state don’t have the funds to run the programs they need,” Hatman said.

GPAAS is a good example of a relatively small rescue that has made a tremendous difference, thanks to its dedicated volunteers and other supporters. Since it was established in 1997, GPAAS has placed almost 5,000 pets in new homes. GPAAS has bi-weekly adoptions at Camp Bow Wow in St. Clair Shores.

Volunteers are also needed to perform a variety of tasks at the shelter, but many of these require people who are experienced with handling pets. Martin said they have training programs for new volunteers every three months.

For more information or to make a donation, visit www.GPAAS.org or call (313) 884-1551.