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Pets invited to trick or treat at ‘Howl-O-Ween’ benefit

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published October 4, 2019


MADISON HEIGHTS — Last year marked the debut of the “Howl-O-Ween” fundraiser at the Madison Heights Animal Shelter, with people bringing their beloved dogs and cats all dressed up in Halloween costumes, and touring a variety of stops handing out treats befitting man’s four-legged friends.

According to officials, the event turned out to be a hit.

“People had a great time with their pets,” Madison Heights Police Chief Corey Haines said.

The fun continues this year, with the second annual Howl-O-Ween slated for 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, at the animal shelter, located next to the Madison Heights Department of Public Services at 801 Ajax Drive.

Admission costs $2 for adults, while pets and kids get in free. All proceeds benefit the shelter. Guests should bring their own “doggy bag” for collecting treats, which include milk bones, cat snacks, tennis balls, cat toys, poop bags and more. There will also be candy for human children, and for the adults there will be a bake sale, raffle and rummage sale, which will also raise money for the shelter.

“Last year’s event was a huge success,” said Justin Holland, the animal control officer for Madison Heights. “People enjoyed the novel experience of being able to trick or treat with their animals in tow. Honestly, the whole event really formed into a social outing with dog owners of the city conversing and getting to know one another.”

Holland has been serving the community in his role for one year now.

“It is honestly a new and exciting life experience, dealing with wildlife on such a close basis,” Holland said. “The main challenge is, and will probably always be making the public aware of the services we offer. Even with events and the Facebook page, I still run into people that aren’t aware that we do adoptions.”

The shelter normally hosts several large fundraising events in the fall and winter.

“The Howl-O-Ween is quickly becoming a staple,” Holland said.

The money raised at such fundraising events is critical. In 2018, the shelter spent more than $16,000 of donated money on the care and treatment of animals in Madison Heights.

“Without the support of our community, we would not be able to treat these animals, and many may be left un-neutered, without veterinary care, and in much worse shape for their prospective (adoptive) homes,” Holland said. “These animals, whether found stray or turned over by previous owners, did not ask to come here, but donations make their stay a comfortable and productive one.”

He said that the costs of food, bedding and flea treatment quickly add up, not to mention the costs of emergency medical care and spaying/neutering. There is space for more than 25 cats and eight dogs at the shelter, so without the community’s support, the shelter’s budget would be exhausted buying food and litter alone.

Volunteers are also instrumental to the shelter’s success.

“The animal shelter would not be able to function without our volunteers and the donations that are received through fundraising efforts and the generosity of our citizens,” Haines said. “The shelter has a small amount of money budgeted each year from the city’s general fund, and the remainder is paid through donations. The donations allow us to provide excellent veterinary services to all of our shelter animals.”

Currently, there are more than 20 cats and four dogs staying at the shelter. One dog is Sara, a 1-year-old brindle bully mix looking for a home.

“Sara is very cautious, as she was taken from terrible conditions,” Holland said. “She will need a home that is ready to slowly gain her trust.”

Then there are four kittens — Gilligan, Skipper, Maryann and Ginger — who are each 3 months old and will likely be ready for adoption soon. They were found as newborns on a boat stored in a yard. Three of them are gray and white tabbies, while one is a small black female.

“Animal intake seems to trend upward in the fall,” Holland said. “Cats are in their last heat of the year, so kittens always seem too abundant. Dog owners, on the other hand, seem to be keeping better watch over their four-legged friends, as dog intakes steadily decline into winter and pick back up come spring.”

The shelter is always in need of more help. Those wishing to volunteer can ask for an application by emailing One can also donate to the shelter either in person or via the city’s webpage,

Along with monetary donations, material donations of bleach and animal food are appreciated — especially the grain-free salmon for dogs at Costco or Sam’s Club, and the grain-free food for cats at Costco. People can drop off supplies at the Madison Heights Police Department, located at 280 W. 13 Mile Road, or schedule a time to meet at the shelter by calling (248) 837-2745.

“The Howl-O-Ween event is an excellent time to come out and enjoy the experience of helping your local shelter while enjoying many of autumn’s best features, including cider, baked goods, and of course candy,” Holland said. “We often have so little time with our four-legged family that it’s paramount opportunities like this exist. … We’re both proud and happy to make them happen.”