County animal shelter makes final push to find homes for pets this summer

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published July 30, 2014

 Janine Kennedy, of Auburn Hills, brought home the newest member of her family July 12 during the Oakland Pet Adoption Center’s community event. — Photo by Deb Jacques

Janine Kennedy, of Auburn Hills, brought home the newest member of her family July 12 during the Oakland Pet Adoption Center’s community event. — Photo by Deb Jacques

OAKLAND COUNTY — At the beginning of the summer, the Oakland County Animal Shelter and Pet Adoption Center set out to find homes for more cats and dogs than they ever have before.

With a little more than half of the season behind us — and just over 550 pets adopted out of the shelter’s 2,014 goal — they’re looking to ramp up their efforts with even more promotions and community engagement.

The center is competing against 50 other shelters across the country for a hefty grant provided by television personality Rachel Ray and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The shelter that shows the greatest improvement, community engagement and number of animals adopted has a shot at the big cash prize.

With just about a month until the end of the contest, OCASPAC is hoping to build on its progress so far. From now through the end of August, the adoption center is allowing pet parents to adopt cats at no charge. The free-cat promotion began July 12, and more than 30 cats found homes on the first day alone. That’s a new record, according to Joanie Toole, administrative supervisor for OCASPAC.

“This is the first time we’re doing this, because we just have so many. As many as we push out we get back,” said Toole, explaining that the shelter often sees a large influx of kittens come in during the summer months.

“We beefed up our application process to make sure even though (the cats) are free, they’re going to good homes. We’re really doing our due diligence,” said OCASPAC Volunteer Coordinator Kara Clark.

At the same time, the adoption center is offering all public service employees the chance to adopt a cat or dog for free through a promotion they’ve dubbed Paws to Say Thanks. Teachers, police officers, firefighters, dispatchers, active military personnel and others can take home a furry friend without shelling out an adoption fee. Cats are fee, while dog adoptions need only $7.50 to purchase a license.

“We’re in the final push now,” said Tracy Barnett of OCASPAC.

She met with Clark and Toole last week for an event-planning session to prepare for the adoption center’s final community event, to be held Aug. 9. The Dog Days of Summer and Cool Cat Nights will be held at the shelter on Brown Road in Auburn Hills. Like their two past events this summer, the day will feature festivities 10 a.m.-4 p.m., including food trucks, a bounce house, vendors and plenty more. That day, all visitors will be able to take advantage of free cat adoptions or half-off dog adoptions.

Barnett said the events have really helped to bring awareness to OCASPAC, just as the contest rules require. But, win or lose, she thinks the shelter will benefit from the efforts.

“We got 1,000 likes in one week on Facebook, and lots of new volunteers. We’re getting more than 50,000 people a week engaging with us online,” she said. “We learned stuff through this (contest) that we can carry on all year.”

Toole agreed, saying that more Oakland County residents have been able to reach out to OCASPAC and learn more about what the center does for the community, and more importantly, for animals — despite any bad publicity they’ve received in the past.

“I think we’ve been able to dispel a lot of myths,” she said. “We try to keep this a lively place, and (visitors) are able to see that.”

If OCASPAC reaches its goal, it could be in the running to win a $100,000 grant or one of several other hefty cash prizes. That money would be used to treat the shelter to some much-needed renovations, including air conditioning.

To volunteer or to learn more, visit adoption or find OCACPAC on Facebook at, or call (248) 391-4100. The Oakland County Animal Control and Pet Adoption Center is located at 1700 Brown Road in Auburn Hills.