With cold weather upon us, the Michigan Humane Society's rescue team is working hard to make sure dogs, cats, and other animals are safe this winter.
"Unfortunately, the holiday season corresponds with when the weather gets cold and that's when our cruelty investigators and rescue team are out there the most," said the non-profit's public relations coordinator, Kevin Hatman. "It's when we get the most calls about animals being kept outside in the cold."
The Michigan Humane Society, which generates $12 million in annual revenue to help Southeast Michigan's furry friends, responds to about 8,000 cruelty investigation calls per year. The organization also operates veterinary clinics and three adoption centers in Detroit, Rochester Hills and Westland. Its Detroit adoption center and clinic is the "busiest animal facility in the state of Michigan," according to Hatman.
The rescue team and adoption centers are always busy this time of year, but Michigan's poor economy has heavily impacted animal surrenders. Still, Hatman says the Humane Society is seeing a decline in the number of animal intakes compared to the past few years.
"Our intakes are declining and we're happy about that -- people aren't surrendering the number of animals as a couple of years ago," Hatman said. "But the number of people saying the economy is a factor is going up. We're getting a higher percentage of people who say, 'I just can't afford it.'"
The Michigan Humane Society is encouraging giving this season and using the holidays to promote its cause -- holding "pictures with Santa" events for pet owners and their companions at PetSmart stores this month. Half the purchase price of a picture with Santa and Fido will go to benefit the Humane Society's work. Humane Society pets that are up for adoption will also be at the events.
And it might be tempting to adopt a pet and give it as a holiday present. But while the Humane Society encourages adoptions year-round, they say to be cautious when giving pets as holiday gifts.
"A lot of people do come in looking to give pets as gifts, but that's not something that we generally recommend unless people come in with the person and know exactly what pet they're going to have," Hatman explained. "They need a chance to meet the pet first and understand the commitment involved."
He said adopters should understand that giving cute kitty or dog with a satin bow is "really giving a 12 to 15 -- as many as 20 year -- commitment."
"It's imperative that if a pet is going to be given as a gift, you want them to be involved in the decision," he added. "You don't want to provide a pet that doesn't fit they're lifestyle needs."
Instead, Hatman suggests giving a stater kit of pet supplies, or a gift certificate redeemable for one Humane Society adoption. "Why not give a note" -- an IOU -- "that says we're going go to the Humane Society after the holidays and actually check out which pet would perfect."
That perfect pet might be one of these dogs or cats currently available for adoption at the Michigan Humane Society's Detroit Center for Animal Care. The shelter also has bunnies, hamsters and other small pets up for adoption.
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