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Madison Heights

Pet Expo and Adoption Event aims to save animals

Rescues have many furry friends in need of homes

October 10, 2012

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At one of Guardians for Animals’ previous Pet Expo and Adoption Events, Alissa Sullivan of Hazel Park met Sparkle, a pit bull puppy up for adoption.

MADISON HEIGHTS — There are 20 no-kill rescues under the umbrella of Guardians for Animals. They save death-row animals from shelters and other perilous situations and keep them in foster homes until a “forever family” is found.

Currently, the GFA network has around 700 animals in foster care. Last year, their affiliate rescues saved 3,321 death row animals in a 60-mile radius.

Jim White of Special Animal Friend and Rescue Inc., which holds twice-monthly dog adoptions at Petco in Troy, explained that GFA helps new rescue organizations get started. SAFARI has been in existence for two years and currently operates with more than 35 volunteers. The group has placed about 215 dogs in forever homes since its inception.

Every animal fostered allows another to be saved; every animal adopted allows another to be fostered; and every dollar donated to GFA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, feeds a homeless animal for up to three days.

Fosters, adoptions and fundraising — all are part of GFA’s seventh annual Pet Expo and Adoption Event. But it’s more than just a good cause. It’s a good time for the family, and stimulus overload for the animal lover and pet enthusiast.

“We always support GFA events,” White said. “They bring in a lot of people.”

He noted that SAFARI fosters dogs from shelters and those surrendered by owners for reasons such as having to move to a no-pet apartment due to the economy.

The expo will take place inside Madison Place, 876 Horace Brown Drive, off of 13 Mile, across from Lamphere High School, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28. Admission and parking are free, and people can bring their pets if the pet is leashed and up-to-date on vaccinations. 

Sponsored by The Petco Foundation and Purina Pro Plan Rally to Rescue, the event usually attracts between 2,000 and 2,500 people. Alexandria Whitney, president and founder of GFA, said they’re hoping to exceed previous turnout records.

“We need to double attendance this year for the sake of the animals,” Whitney said.

Money raised at the event goes to GFA’s emergency medical fund, its affiliate rescues and the Madison Heights Animal Shelter.

With so many adoptable dogs, puppies, cats, kittens, birds and even sugar gliders, there are bound to be animals finding homes. Whitney said those looking for a pet should do so now, so the pet has time to settle in before the hectic holiday season.

Those who don’t want to adopt a real animal can “adopt” a stuffed toy, with the money helping GFA save animals. They can even opt to donate the toy to a children’s hospital.

The weekend coincides with National Be the Difference Day Oct. 27. Attendees are asked to bring canned or bagged pet food to help feed both rescue animals and animals living in homes struggling to afford them.   

Packed schedule

A Halloween costume contest and Mummy Wrap will be held on Oct. 27.

Past costume contests featured such unique creations as a “grape-hound” — a greyhound covered in purple balloons — and a “tripod” — a three-legged pit bull mix with a camera strapped to its back.

Pet owners are encouraged to dress up with their pets or have their hair color changed by Great Clips at the event. First prize is a $100 Petco gift card, while second prize is a $50 Petco gift card.

In the Mummy Wrap, a new contest, pet owners race against time to wrap their pet in as much toilet paper as they can. There are different categories, so that a great Dane doesn’t compete with a Pomeranian. Prizes will be announced at the event.

Registration for both contests runs 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. The Halloween costume contest will be at 2 p.m., the Mummy Wrap at 3:15 p.m.

Also Oct. 27, volunteers from the various rescues will share their stories at 11 a.m., dog training will take place in the Dog Zone at 12:30 p.m., and K-9 demonstrations will begin at 1 p.m.

On Oct. 28, Today’s 105.1 FM will open its Money Machine at 11 a.m. Attendees can step inside a wind chamber and try to grab fake money flying around. The fake money is exchanged for real prizes. Another Dog Zone demo will be held at noon, and a pre-carved or decorated pumpkin contest will be held at 12:30 p.m., so be sure to bring whatever jack-o-lanterns you’ve created for Halloween.

More K-9 demonstrations will follow at 1 p.m. The Most Talented Pet contest will be at 1:30 p.m. A 50/50 drawing will be at 2:30 p.m., and the Red Ticket raffle drawing at 2:45 p.m. Final call for buying tickets will be at 2 p.m. The silent auction will close at 2:45 p.m., with the winners announced at 3 p.m.

At press time, 5,000 tickets had been sold for the 50/50 and another 5,000 printed. The first-prize winner will get half of the proceeds, while the second-place winner will receive a 40-inch 1080p HDTV and the third-place winner gets a Soda Stream home soda maker.

A veterinarian will be on hand to answer any questions people may have. There will be pet goods on sale, as well as non-pet items for seasonal shopping: scented and wickless candles, bar soaps, body creams, jewelry, licorice and more.

Food and beverages will be available, and there will be special activities for the kids. Linda Sicks, author of the popular children’s book series “Nick the Wise Old Cat,” will be there with the titular feline.  

Relief for animals

The real value of the event is finding adopters and foster families for the animals.

Fostering, in particular, is a great way to get all the benefits of pet ownership without the costs: The rescue provides medical coverage, food and supplies, while the foster-owner simply provides a home and takes the animal to adoption events until an adopter is found.

The rescue checks the home and lifestyle of the adopter first to make sure they’re compatible with the needs and personality of the pet. In the meantime, the foster-owner frees up space at the rescue, allowing more animals to be saved. 

“A lot of people can’t afford the vet care and the heartworm preventative and the upkeep of the dog (or other animal), but as a foster they’re saving so many lives,” said Michelle Touchtone of Loveabull Paws Rescue in Roseville. “And if you get attached and find a dog whose personality is a perfect fit, you can ‘foster fail’ and adopt the dog yourself. A lot of people ask how they can help, and of course we can always use donations, but we can only save as many lives as we have foster homes available.”

Loveabull Paws Rescue saves all breeds, with a focus on pit bulls, and adopts them out at the Petco in Eastpointe. In the year and a half they’ve been around, they’ve adopted out 128 dogs. GFA helps them get through tough times when funding is tight, and they will be among the many rescues at GFA’s show.

“By holding this event, people come to meet the animals and understand the needs of the rescue organizations, and how they can help, not only by adopting, but by becoming a foster parent or making a food donation,” Whitney said. “There are many ways to help.”

Fees to adopt the pets vary. “If we don’t charge, we can’t continue to rescue the animals,” White said.

SAFARI will have pets available for adoption noon-4 p.m. Oct. 20 at Petco at 1217 Coolidge in Troy.

Guardians for Animals’ seventh annual Pet Expo and Adoption Event will take place inside Madison Place, 876 Horace Brown Drive, off of 13 Mile across from Lamphere High School, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28. Admission and parking are free. For more information including how to sponsor, visit http://www.guardians or call (248) 457-8024.

For more about Loveabull Paws Rescue, call (586) 933-3303, email or visit

Meet the World’s Tallest Dog

People can see Zeus, the Guinness World Record holder for “Tallest Dog,” at the Troy Petco, 1217 Coolidge Highway, 1-3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21.

For a donation to Guardians for Animals to help homeless animals, visitors and their pets can be photographed with the 3-year-old Great Dane, who stands 7 feet 4 inches tall.

Which rescues are attending?

The following are some of the rescues that will be at Guardians for Animals’ seventh annual Pet Expo and Adoption Event inside Madison Place Oct. 27-28:

Madison Heights Animal Shelter
Hazel Park Animal Shelter
A Hopeful Heart
A New Leash on Life
Best Buddy Pet Rescue
Cat Tail Kitties
Futures 4 Felines
Loveabull Paws Rescue
Midwest Schipperke Rescue
Motor City Greyhound Rescue
PJ’s Parrot Rescue
Providing for Paws
Purple Parrot Rescue
Special Animal Friend and Rescue Inc.
The Feral Cat Advocate

For more local news coverage, see the following newspapers:


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