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Madison Heights

July 23, 2014

Senior center, animal shelter team up to help animals

Yard sale will raise funds for shelter addition, spaying/neutering

By Andy Kozlowski
C & G Staff Writer

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Senior center, animal shelter team up to help animals
Wil Mikkelsen, of Novi, a Central Michigan University student doing an internship at the Madison Heights Animal Shelter, shares a moment with Goldie Hawn, a pit mix that has been at the shelter for about two months and was a surrender pup at about 7 months old.

MADISON HEIGHTS — In an effort to improve the lives of the dogs and cats at the Madison Heights Animal Shelter, the Madison Heights Senior Citizen Center is hosting a yard sale that will help raise funds for a new wing at the shelter building, separating the cats from the dogs, and making both sides happier and healthier.

The money will also help pay for spaying and neutering — good for the long-term health of animals, and for preventing the homeless animal population from growing.  The money may also go toward treating other medical needs among the shelter animals.

The yard sale will be held in the pavilion at the Senior Citizen Center, 29448 John R between 12 Mile and 13 Mile, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1, and from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2.

This is the first time the two parties have collaborated on such an event. The items are provided entirely by supporters of the animal shelter.   Expect various knick-knacks, food bowls, litter boxes, and other cat- and dog-related items, as well as home décor including lamps and even a collection of dolls.

“Normally, I collect items from friends and family, and donate to the Silver Lake Garage Sale. They’re a rescue that adopts out our animals, and they have a sale each year. But this year, they’re not having a sale, so I and the others took our stuff and thought we’d give our own sale a try,” said Suzette Gysel, the animal control officer for the city of Madison Heights.

“The senior center seemed like a logical place to hold this event,” she added. “It’s on John R, and the pavilion, parking lot and tables are already there, so it’s easy to set up.”

Gysel has been collecting money for the construction of a 16-foot-long addition to the north side of the animal shelter 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 have space and feel less stressed.

“It has been such a long, arduous process,” Gysel said of the work to get the addition. “There is one more change the architect needs to make to the plans, hopefully in the coming weeks, and then we’ll be able to go to bid.”

The city has approved the shelter bid, and earlier this year, Gysel secured a $30,000 grant for the project through an anonymous foundation. However, the overall cost of the project is $40,000, so additional fundraising has been necessary. Grants have been sought, and community members have helped in various ways. The dance teams at Lamphere High even donated more than $1,700 raised in a bottle drive this past spring.

Gysel has also been selling special T-shirts in support of the shelter. A new variant of the T-shirts will be available at the yard sale — all black with bright green lettering, with the doghouse symbol on the front where the left pocket would be, and the paw-print symbol and some text on the back. 

Jennifer Cowan, senior coordinator at the Senior Citizen Center, said she thinks the yard sale might become an annual event.

“It’s a new endeavor, and we’re excited to be part of it,” Cowan said. “We look forward to helping them in the future.”

Currently, there are four dogs and a half-dozen cats at the shelter. The dogs have been there for a while, and include a 5-year-old female akita that is heartworm-positive and will be treated; a 5-year-old male treeing walker coonhound; a senior female pit-bull, “who’s very sweet,” Gysel said; and an 8-month-old female red-nose pit-bull.

While the situation is currently manageable, the number of animals there is ever-changing, meaning they can quickly find themselves at max capacity and find themselves in need of the extra space to keep the animals from stressing each other out. But the response so far has Gysel confident everything will work out sooner or later.

“As far as getting donations, it’s all been fantastic and more than what I would’ve imagined,” Gysel said. “The people who have stepped up have been wonderful. I look forward to seeing a bunch of people at the yard sale, buying the new shirts.

“The other night, I even posted on Facebook we were running low on dog food, and we’ve already got a few bags donated to us,” she said. “So it all just goes to show there are real animal lovers in the city of Madison Heights, and I couldn’t do it without the citizens’ support.”

The new shelter T-shirts will be available for $20 each at the yard sale, in sizes small through 2XL. The yard sale, benefitting the Madison Heights Animal Shelter, will take place at the Madison Heights Senior Citizen Center, 29448 John R, between 12 Mile and 13 Mile, in the pavilion, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1, and from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2. For more information, call (248) 545-3464.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Andy Kozlowski at akozlowski@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1104.