I-Team: No-kill shelters - WNEM TV 5

I-Team: No-kill shelters

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GENESEE COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

Millions of dogs and cats in Michigan shelters and county animal control facilities have faced the death penalty, but a new culture called no-kill is emerging among animal advocates - which would mean putting those pets into homes instead of putting them to death.

“With no-kill it says, wait a second, you can do something more than kill. Why don’t you start marketing, maybe you should spay and neuter, maybe you should be working with rescues,” said Deborah Schutt, Chair of the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance.

Schutt and Paul Wallace, Director of the Genesee County Animal Control, are allies in a war against euthanizing pets as population control.

“Used to be the idea behind controlling the population of animals was to catch as many as you can, that weren’t someone’s property, and then euthanize them," Schutt said. 

As the I-Team discovered, more than 27,000 dogs and cats from shelters and animal control facilities across Michigan will be euthanized by the end of this year. Nearly half, as many as 13,000, who will die are healthy or treatable.

"When you want to eliminate suffering that cannot be solved in any other way, or an aggression that just won't place the animal anyplace, that's when euthanasia is appropriate," according to Schutt.

Her Michigan Pet Fun Alliance advocates for animals and just awarded the Genesee County Animal Shelter for being the most improved large shelter for reducing animal deaths; and sharply increasing live release rates for dogs and cats.

"It's a dramatic improvement over how they used to do business before. It's a new paradigm, new way of doing business,” Wallace told the I-Team.

No-kill means a shelter’s live release percentage is 90 percent or better.

The Michigan Pet Fund Alliance said that in 2015 virtually all of Michigan is at least above 70 percent, with the vast majority at or above the minimum for a no-kill classification.

Midland County hit 98 percent while Saginaw County reached 85 percent.

Genesee County hit 87 percent and has since climbed to 90 or better this year.

Bay County improved to 63 percent last year and is saving 95 percent of its dogs but its overall numbers were hurt by the 70 percent of cats that were still being killed.

More people like Katelyn McDonald are needed to open their hearts and homes.

"I saw her and I thought she was just super cute, and friendly and lovely," she said. 

McDonald converting a boyfriend as well.

"Kinda thought I'd bring him here and show him most cats are pretty decent depending on how you raise them. Oh I definitely think that's a good thing that it's a no-kill shelter, a lot of these animals deserve a chance to find someone to give them a good home."

Wallace said his facility is helping lead the change.

"There's been a big change, and it started years ago. And it's just coming our way, and we're one of the leaders in the state in making it happen."

Shawna Guiett with Amazing Grace Animal Rescue has the perfect recipe.

Working with an extensive network of animal advocates in our state and beyond for placement instead of euthanasia.

"Many, many, places across the country are doing this, they've managed to become no-kill, huge cities, places where they have many more issues than we do in Saginaw County, and they're able to do it, so we can do it," she said. 

An army of volunteers and contributors helping to defray the cost of caring for animals instead of killing them.

"We have many thousands of loyal supporters, and they are behind this 100 percent with the no-kill," said Guiett.

A compassionate commitment is a universal element for a no-kill culture.

“The, I think, most important thing, is a compassionate director, because once you have the passion for saving animals lives you can make all the programs work," according to Schutt.

The next most important thing is high-volume, low-cost spaying and neutering, with lots of public cooperation.

Click here for the 2015 Michigan Shelters by Save and Live Release rate that shows the number of animals saved.

For a list of no-kill shelters in Michigan, click here

To find adoptable pets at major county animal shelters:

Humane Society of Genesee County

Humane Society of Midland County

Humane Society of Bay County

Animal Care Center - Saginaw County

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