Madison Heights Animal Shelter receives state grant

Funds will help with spaying and neutering animals

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published March 23, 2016

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MADISON HEIGHTS — State law says that all shelter animals must be spayed and neutered before they can be adopted out. For the Madison Heights Animal Shelter, this can be quite expensive, and in the past the shelter has had to lean on local rescue groups to pick up the cost. But those rescues aren’t made of money either, so it’s been tough all around.

Fortunately, the shelter recently received word that the state has awarded them $10,000 to use for spaying and neutering. The shelter in Madison Heights is one of 23 shelters across Michigan that is splitting up $135,000 in grants for this purpose. Other recipient shelters in metro Detroit include Macomb County Animal Control and the Taylor Animal Shelter.

The grant is awarded by the Animal Industry Division of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, donated by state taxpayers using a check-off option. The Animal Welfare Fund has distributed more than $967,000 since 2010.

The last time Madison Heights received a slice of this pie was in 2013 and 2012. Suzette Gysel, the animal control officer for Madison Heights, said it’s not entirely clear what factors into the grant decision each year. Each shelter submits an application and explains what they’ll use the money for, why they need it and how it’s going to make a difference, including the number of dogs and cats they’ll spay and neuter — a projection made on the previous year’s statistics.

With this grant, “We’ll now be able to cover costs that we couldn’t before,” Gysel said. “Before, we were putting that burden on the rescue organizations that took in our animals. Now we’ll be able to fix all of our animals prior to them leaving the shelter and getting into new homes or rescue groups.”

She said this will come as welcome relief to the rescues that are already inundated with the costs of curing animals that are heartworm positive, or that have respiratory infections and so on, in addition to the usual costs of feeding them, providing litter and so forth.

Gysel said she’s also happy to report that the students at Hiller Elementary have once again raised funds for the shelter. Last May, they gave the shelter a check for $550. This year, they’re on track to donate $600.

“This is our seventh year partnering with them,” Gysel said of Hiller. “The kids collect pennies, or whatever they wish; they bring in their change and total it, and donate it to the shelter. Each year, they make more and more money. I went to their Leadership Day and I was amazed at what they had already collected.”

Gysel said the community has continually impressed her with its generosity and compassion, supporting the shelter at a time when the city has struggled to do the same. She said that after the outpouring of donations this past Christmas, the shelter is good on most fronts, but it could always use more food and litter.

There’s been an influx of dogs, so the shelter could use more Purina One Smart Blend Chicken and Rice. As for the cats, they always need litter. Gysel anticipates a slew of kittens this year due to the unseasonably warm weather.

Currently, there are four dogs in the shelter. There’s Pepe, an American bulldog mix who loves people, knows tricks and is house-broken. He’s smart, clean and a real sweetheart, but he comes with the caveat that he doesn’t like cats. Then there’s Karmen and Dulce, both female pit bull terriers. Both are gentle and loving dogs, but again, they’re not compatible with cats.

One new arrival is Bunny, who Gysel named for the upcoming Easter holiday. She appears to be a shepherd chow mix. She was a stray found wandering the streets.

“She’s kind of a character,” Gysel said. “She’s really funny — she jumped up and gave me a hug today! She’s a little scared right now, being at the shelter; she’s not really sure what’s going on, so she’s a bit afraid of things, but she’s getting better. I think someday she’ll make a really nice pet.”

Those who want to meet the animals or contribute money and/or supplies can visit the Madison Heights Animal Shelter at 801 Ajax Drive. For more information, call (248) 837-2784.

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