Grosse Pointe Animal Adoption Society Executive Director Corinne Martin stands near Shadow, a shorthaired gray cat, and, at top, Samira, a long-haired calico. The bonded 8-year-old cats — who came to GPAAS after their owner moved into an assisted living facility — must be adopted together.

Grosse Pointe Animal Adoption Society Executive Director Corinne Martin stands near Shadow, a shorthaired gray cat, and, at top, Samira, a long-haired calico. The bonded 8-year-old cats — who came to GPAAS after their owner moved into an assisted living facility — must be adopted together.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Animal adoptions face new hurdles during pandemic

By: K. Michelle Moran | C&G Newspapers | Published July 28, 2020

 Grosse Pointe Animal Adoption Society Facilities Director Scott Pardon poses with a purebred boxer who came into GPAAS as  a “stray hold.”

Grosse Pointe Animal Adoption Society Facilities Director Scott Pardon poses with a purebred boxer who came into GPAAS as a “stray hold.”

Photo by Deb Jacques

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HARPER WOODS/GROSSE POINTES — For the Grosse Pointe Animal Adoption Society, 2020 should have been a banner year. On Feb. 12, thanks to a generous donation from animal lover and philanthropist Thomas Mackey, of Grosse Pointe Farms, GPAAS opened the Thomas A. Mackey Animal Adoption Center in Harper Woods, GPAAS Executive Director Corinne Martin said.

Then COVID-19 hit Michigan, and the center had to shut its doors to the public March 15, she said. Since then, Martin said, she and a skeleton crew of employees have been caring for the animals and holding adoptions by appointment only, but the fundraisers they’d planned to fund their larger new home have all had to be put on hold.

“It’s been a struggle,” Martin said. “We’re still doing the business that we’ve always done. … (But) now we have this big, beautiful building that costs more to support (with) utilities.”

And with donations down during these uncertain times, covering basic expenses like veterinary care has become challenging.

While many animal shelters around the country have reported an increase in pet adoption during the pandemic, Martin said GPAAS has always taken a more strategic approach than some shelters to finding homes for animals.

“We want to make sure we have a safe, good-tempered animal to adopt out into the community,” said Martin, noting that all pets are evaluated thoroughly before they’re put up for adoption.

In addition, “We pride ourselves on matching people with the right pets,” said Martin. Applicants are screened to make sure that their lifestyle meshes well with the animal they adopt. As a result, Martin said the number of pets returned to GPAAS is “almost zero,” but it’s a process that takes time.

That’s not to say that there haven’t been any adoptions during the pandemic. Martin said they’re averaging about five to six appointments with prospective pet parents each Saturday; appointments can also be made during the week.

For Evie Price, of Detroit, undertaking a pet adoption wasn’t for her — it was for her mother, Carol Ann Maleitzke, of Grosse Pointe Farms. Price said her parents had been living at American House Grosse Pointe at Cottage when her father died in December 2019, one day after he and his wife celebrated their 66th anniversary. Shortly thereafter, Maleitzke’s cat, Princess — who had been a rescue from GPAAS — also died at roughly age 11.

“Once the pandemic hit, American House Grosse Pointe was completely on lockdown,” said Price, who as a result was no longer able to visit her mother regularly, as she had done before. “I’m very happy they’re taking the precautions they are, but I was concerned about my mother being lonely and not having companionship.”

Price said a friend of her mother’s had seen a cat at GPAAS and thought of Maleitzke. After talking it over with her mom, Price started the adoption process for her mother. She purchased cat food and other supplies and brought those, with the cat — now named Josie — to American House, whose personnel took Josie in her carrier upstairs to Maleitzke’s room.

“I think that it has helped a lot,” Price said of her mother having a new feline companion. “Josie, being younger (than Princess), is a little more active.”

Josie is believed to be about 4 years old, Price said.

Maleitzke said she wasn’t interested in getting another cat after Princess’ passing from leukemia, but now she’s happy to have Josie.

“She’s delightful,” Maleitzke said of her furry new companion. “We get along just fine. She’s quite playful.”

Josie was shy in the shelter, and even now, when American House staffers come to the apartment door with meals, she’ll scurry away, but Maleitzke said, “She’s not shy around me. … She seems quite content here.”

She said Josie sleeps in bed with her, and when she’s sitting in her recliner, Josie will climb onto the back of the chair and play with Maleitzke’s hair.

GPAAS hopes to continue to have success stories like Josie’s to tell, but they’re facing unprecedented challenges these days. While GPAAS formerly relied on a network of volunteers to help out, the need to wear masks and social distance has meant that only a few staffers are able to be working inside the building. Martin said the sight of people in masks is frightening to the dogs and cats, who look to the human face for emotional cues.

“We can’t have masks on around the dogs and cats,” Martin said. “Your own dog might be OK seeing you with a mask. But a dog wants to see your face.”

That means adoption appointments need to be staggered, because mask wearing isn’t an option when prospective pet parents are meeting with animals.

Price also adopted her dog through GPAAS and said the adoption organization does a good job of finding the perfect pets for people.

“Grosse Pointe Animal Adoption Society has been really good to work with,” Price said. “Their main concern is that their animals are going to a place where they’re cared for and well treated. … They provide a wonderful service, and for everything they do, I think (their adoption fees) are very affordable.”

Fees are $310 for dogs, $90 for adult cats and $140 for kittens.

All animals are spayed or neutered, brought up to date on vaccinations and microchipped before being sent to their forever homes.

Martin said GPAAS is doing what it can to continue its mission of protecting animals and placing them in loving homes, but donations of any amount are greatly needed.

“We’re still here and we’re still in business … but like all nonprofits, we’re struggling,” Martin said.

For more information about supporting GPAAS or adopting a pet, visit www.gpaas.org or call (313) 884-1551.

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