Open Letter to the Community

Cute-dogAs part of the Michigan Humane Society family, you often hear from us about happy endings — dogs and cats who’ve endured some of the worst conditions or suffered through terrible abuse, but were able to find the loving forever homes they deserved. Those stories are part of the reason that you, our supporters, our employees and hundreds of volunteers give their blood, sweat and tears to help MHS care for so many animals in need.

Sadly, as you know, there are many stories that don’t have a happy ending. For these animals, who may be severely injured, suffering or a danger to the community because of what they have endured, providing a dignified and compassionate end of life is the best way we can relieve that suffering, or prevent an animal from causing harm to other pets or people.

Recently, articles have appeared that have portrayed MHS in an unfair and inaccurate manner. We’d like to take this opportunity to clear up some unfortunate and potentially harmful misconceptions that have arisen from this coverage.

First, it is important to note that MHS’ financial information is audited every year. Our tax returns are available for public viewing, while our 2010 Report to the Community, available on our website, includes all of our statistics, including intakes, adoptions, number of animals sterilized, amount of cruelty complaints and more. MHS is committed to being wholly transparent and open to the community we serve.

Second, a handful of MHS board members had recommended an operational audit that was subsequently rejected by the majority of the board. This audit was primarily rejected by the board because we had already had our procedures recently audited by the University of California Davis Shelter Medicine Program. Because of this, the decision was made to not divert more of our limited resources from the animals in order to perform a duplicative audit.

Finally, with regard to the rates of unhealthy and untreatable animals that come into our facilities, we want to emphasize that not a single healthy pet was euthanized at MHS last year, or this year. We were very happy to reach 100 percent adoption of all healthy animals last year, and this year so far, we’re at 70 percent adoption of all of our treatable animals, which are animals with moderate to severe conditions who with treatment can be made healthy. MHS has a goal to adopt out every single treatable animal within the next few years — it’s just a question of having the resources necessary, including donations, foster homes, well —equipped facilities and more.

MHS has been part of the community since 1877, and we know how vital our services are to the animals. MHS is the only large, truly open-admission organization in the state, meaning we take any and all animals brought to our doors, regardless of condition, adoptability, geography, owned or stray or any other criteria. Because of this, a high percentage of the animals that come to us are sadly, unadoptable — animals who are severely ill, injured, suffering or aggressive and who may have been turned away from other organizations. Though many have pressured us to change our policies — limit our admissions, turn people away, or send unadoptable animals somewhere else —in a misguided attempt to “improve” our statistics, we are committed to providing this important service to the community and animals in need.

Some other organizations that have bowed to this pressure have created harmful conditions for the animals in their care. In fact, a recent article referenced a New York agency that had lowered their euthanasia rate by nearly 40 percent, asking why MHS couldn’t do what they had done. However, a PETA investigation found that they were shipping large numbers of ailing and debilitated animals to a warehouse where they were left to slowly deteriorate and die without any of the basic care the animals needed.

While these are difficult issues, MHS is committed to providing the best quality care for every animal that comes through our doors, as well as working in the community to keep animals safe and healthy and in their homes; and we will always work toward a day when we can say with pride that every pet has a loving home.

However, we know that some of you may be concerned about the information presented in the article. We encourage you to write us an e-mail or give us a call. We’d be happy to answer any of your questions or respond to any of your concerns. In spite of a few disgruntled board members, we remain focused on and committed to acting in the best interest of the animals and the community we serve.

Thank you for supporting MHS, and for standing up for animal welfare.

For the animals,

Cal Morgan

President & CEO

Michigan Humane Society

Courtesy of The Michigan Humane Society.

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