McGee, a male domestic shorthair who arrived at the Royal Oak Animal Shelter June 1, reclines in his cage at the shelter July 13.

McGee, a male domestic shorthair who arrived at the Royal Oak Animal Shelter June 1, reclines in his cage at the shelter July 13.

Photo by Sarah Wojcik


City focuses on fundraising for Royal Oak Animal Shelter

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published July 15, 2019

 Sonny, a German shepherd  who arrived at the shelter May 16, props himself up on his cage. Sonny is bonded with Cher, and animal shelter  staff believes he is her son.

Sonny, a German shepherd who arrived at the shelter May 16, props himself up on his cage. Sonny is bonded with Cher, and animal shelter staff believes he is her son.

Photo by Sarah Wojcik

ROYAL OAK — The Royal Oak Animal Shelter lately has been the beneficiary of a couple of civic organizations.

The Royal Oak Civic Foundation recently held a “pROud for Pups” T-shirt sale, with all proceeds benefiting the shelter, and the Royal Oak Restaurant Association will host a Vegan & Vodka event Aug. 2-3 to benefit the shelter.

The T-shirt sale exceeded its goal of 50 shirts with 85 shirts sold, which raised a total of $1,070.  

Royal Oak Community Engagement Specialist Judy Davids said the thought behind the T-shirt sale was to coincide with Mayor Michael Fournier’s State of the City address, set to take place 5-7 p.m. July 23 at the Royal Oak Farmers Market, 316 E. 11 Mile Road.

“In his message, the mayor is going to say all the things he’s proud of, and as we got into that point in the discussion about ‘RO proud,’ we just came up with a T-shirt design,” Davids said. “When we do a T-shirt design, we’re not in the business of making money, so we always try to pick a beneficiary.”

She said this was the city’s third T-shirt sale, with the other two benefiting the Royal Oak Police Department and the St. Patrick’s Day parade, and all have been “really successful.”

RORA had originally planned a “Dog Days of Royal Oak” event, in which restaurants would offer specialty hot dogs, and a portion of the proceeds would benefit the animal shelter during the month of July.

However, the event received an onslaught of pushback on social media. A multitude of commenters on Facebook expressed outrage about serving animal products to raise money for animals in the shelter. Others declared that it was speciesism, valuing the lives of cats and dogs over other animals, in this case primarily pigs.

In response, RORA opted to change the beneficiary of the hot dog fundraiser to the Royal Oak Public Library and created a Vegan & Vodka event Aug. 2-3.

“The restaurant association and the shelter, we talked about this and we listened, obviously. We were certainly attentive to what was being said and we understood the concerns, and they stepped up,” shelter manager Jodie Ellison said. “We want to do what we feel is right in this situation, so we’re going to swap it with a vegan event.”

She said she is grateful that RORA thought of them as a beneficiary of the event and is glad for the association’s flexibility in restructuring events.

During the July 8 meeting, the City Commission approved a special event permit for the event, and Johnny Prepolec, chef and owner of Mr. B’s Gastropub, who also serves as a director of RORA, offered more information.

“This is something that grew out of conversations with a lot of business owners about what we can do to help develop the culinary image of Royal Oak, and what we can do to bring people into the community to see the space between the Henry Ford medical building,” Prepolec said. “It gives us an opportunity to create a festival that is unique to a growing market segment, especially within the millennial generation.”

The Royal Oak Animal Shelter is a city service managed by the Police Department and operated by a manager, four part-time employees and volunteers. It has the capacity for eight dogs and 30 cats.

Ellison said adoption numbers have doubled this year due largely in part to the shelter’s efforts to work with the community.

“We’re having a lot of really good luck and also working with some other shelters and rescues,” she said. “We try to talk with (people trying to re-home their pets) to help them find resources and maintain, rather than having to surrender their animals.”

She said the small shelter’s most sought-after items are gift cards. For a wish list and desired gift cards, email roas@romi.gov.

It is also always accepting applications for volunteers.

“We’re looking for volunteers with special skills they want to give,” Ellison said. “We want to make it an enjoyable thing for our volunteers, not just come in and clean.”

She said that the shelter is seeking those with social media prowess, those who like to match animals on lost pet websites, health professionals able to microchip, and others interested in playing and socializing with the animals.

The Royal Oak Animal Shelter is located at 1515 N. Edgeworth Ave., near 12 Mile and North Campbell roads. It is open 4-7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays.

For more information, visit the Royal Oak Animal Shelter’s Facebook page or call the shelter at (248) 548-3058.