MH Animal Shelter sells shirts to spay/neuter animals

Shelter plans to expand facility to give animals more room

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published February 19, 2014

 Currently, dogs and cats are caged in the same room at the shelter, which can cause them stress since they don’t always coexist peacefully. The shelter is hoping to secure a grant that will fund an expansion.

Currently, dogs and cats are caged in the same room at the shelter, which can cause them stress since they don’t always coexist peacefully. The shelter is hoping to secure a grant that will fund an expansion.

Photo by Deb Jacques

MADISON HEIGHTS — After being denied a grant that would’ve covered much of its spaying and neutering costs, the Madison Heights Animal Shelter is selling special T-shirts and sweatshirts to raise money for the cause — and some of that money will help pay for a new wing at the shelter that will separate the cats from the dogs.

The shelter received the state’s spay/neuter grant in 2012 and 2013. Last year, the grant paid for the spaying/neutering of 66 animals — roughly half of the animals rescued from the shelter that year.

“We heard from the individual who administers the grant, and we were told there are more applicants this year than in previous years, so the judging was difficult,” said Animal Control Officer Suzette Gysel. “We’ve gotten it two years in a row, so I simply look at it as sharing the wealth. It does complicate matters greatly for us, though.”

Fixing an animal reduces the risk of certain health problems, Gysel said. It also reduces the number of homeless puppies and kittens out on the streets. Spaying/neutering is required by the state, and doing it at the shelter level means that the rescues that pull the animals from the shelter don’t have to incur the extra cost.

Madison Heights Deputy Police Chief Corey Haines, who once was the city’s first K-9 handler, praised Gysel for starting the fundraiser to help make up the difference.

“Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, the city is unable to fund this project (spaying/neutering) in its entirety,” Haines said in an email. “I greatly appreciate all the work that (officer) Gysel does for the city and for the animals.”

The T-shirts are $20; the hooded sweatshirts are $35. The shirts are a leafy shade of green with “Madison Heights Animal Shelter” on the front, next to the silhouette of a house with a paw-print inside. On the back is a paw-print with a heart on its palm, above the word “ADOPT.” The graphics and words are dark green. The sweatshirts sport the same design but are black with bright green graphics.

To purchase a shirt or sweatshirt, check out the order form at 

Some of the proceeds from the shirts will also help pay for a planned 16-foot-long addition to the north side of the shelter building. Gysel has approval from the city for the expansion but still needs to figure out how to front the cost. At press time, she planned to apply for a grant through Two Seven Oh, a private animal foundation that focuses on helping Michigan animals.

Currently, the cats are housed in cages above the dogs, or next to the dogs. This can encourage the spread of illness, and it can also stress the cats out to the point that they become sick and are no longer adoptable. The expansion will create a cat room separate from the dogs, and also free up more room for the dogs, as well.   

“We’re not going to have more space to take in more animals than we already house; it’s just a matter of relocating them away from the dogs,” Gysel said. “We did get six cages donated to us from the Michigan Humane Society, but what we’re going to do is expand the cages so they’re larger cages, so the cats have more room to move and exercise, which promotes healthier, more adoptable cats.

“The dogs will get indoor/outdoor runs, with bigger cages,” she added. “Again, we won’t be able to keep more animals, but the animals we have will have more space.”

Haines agreed that the expansion is needed.

“The animal shelter is very outdated and in need of improvements,” Haines said in an email. “(Officer) Gysel worked with other departments within the city to get approval for the expansion and has now applied for a grant that would cover the project. No city funds or employee work hours will be used for this improvement.”

The shelter aims to maintain its “no kill” status. To be clear, “no kill” in this case means the shelter won’t euthanize any animal that is adoptable; animals that are not adoptable due to severe aggression, illness or injury may be humanely euthanized.

The shelter also can’t directly adopt out animals itself. When a person is interested in an animal at the shelter, the shelter works with one of its partner rescues to pull the animal so the person can adopt through the rescue.

More than 120 animals were rescued in this fashion last year. Some of them were already spayed/neutered; the rest were fixed by the shelter, which relieves the rescues of the additional cost.

Silver Lake Animal Rescue League rescued 60 animals from the shelter in 2013. Pet Adoption Alternative of Warren (PAAW) rescued 24, and Abandoned Animal Rescue of Michigan (AARM) rescued 16. There were numerous other rescues that pulled varying numbers of animals, as well. Gysel said they all make a huge difference by freeing up room and resources at the shelter so more animals can be saved.

“I’d pretty much be lost without them,” Gysel said.

To order a T-shirt or sweatshirts, the proceeds benefiting the Madison Heights Animal Shelter, visit, email Suzette Gysel at, or call her at (248) 837-2745.