Oakland County Animal Shelter, sheriff team up with Humane Society

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published April 15, 2019

 Oakland County Animal Control Officer Chris Klebba kneels down with Antsy, a pit bull/terrier mix, who is up for adoption at the Oakland County Animal Control and Pet Adoption Center.

Oakland County Animal Control Officer Chris Klebba kneels down with Antsy, a pit bull/terrier mix, who is up for adoption at the Oakland County Animal Control and Pet Adoption Center.

Photo by Tiffany Esshaki

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OAKLAND COUNTY —  Antsy — a young female pit bull/terrier mix — was one of the honored guests as leaders from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and the Michigan Humane Society met at the Oakland County Animal Control and Pet Adoption Center for a press conference last week.

She wasn’t too excited, though, and she took a bit of a nap at the feet of her handler, Oakland County Animal Control Officer Chris Klebba.

She might have been more interested if she could have understood that the humans in the room were announcing a public-private partnership that will combine the resources of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and the MHS to protect animals of all kinds around Oakland County.

The collaboration will allow the MHS and Oakland County Animal Control to borrow staff, kennel space and other assets when either organization is spread too thin, which usually occurs in cases of animal fighting or animal hoarding.

“We’re coming at this from a pre-emptive approach,” said Andy Seltz, the MHS vice president of field services. “(Hoarding) situations are a huge drain on our resources. They’re all gone. So we’re combining three experienced divisions to assist each other with sheltering, moving the animals and the enforcement side.”

That could help when it comes to interviewing witnesses to animal endangerment situations, offering forensic medicine capabilities and so much more.

According to Capt. Andre Ewing, of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, the biggest complaint is animal neglect, usually for malnourished or under-watered animals, or dogs illegally left outdoors in dangerously cold temperatures. Dog fighting reports don’t come often, though he said he’s gotten intel that rooster fighting is gaining popularity in some Oakland County neighborhoods.

But that doesn’t mean animal abuse isn’t found outside of Pontiac, around one of the richest counties in the country.

“It’s everywhere,” Seltz said. “Hoarding animals, neglect, abuse — there’s no political boundaries.”

In 2018, the MHS Cruelty Investigations and Rescue Team answered nearly 8,000 calls for assistance, while Oakland County Animal Control responded to a little fewer than 1,000 calls.

But those crimes are about to be much tougher to perpetrate in this community.

“Oakland County has always embraced all attempts to stop the exploitation of animals,” said Bob Gatt, the manager of the Oakland County Animal Control and Pet Adoption Center, during the press conference. “Enforcing animal abuse laws in an aggressive, robust manner with our new partners at the Michigan Humane Society will send a clear and persistent message to those that abuse animals.”

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