Shelters, society working to keep pets with owners

By BROOKE STEVENSON and TOM TIGANI

A recent statewide effort to lower costs of pet care in difficult economic times hasn’t made its way Downriver yet.

However, local animal shelters are doing what they can to help owners with affordable alternatives in an effort to help them hang on their pets.

The Michigan Humane Society’s Protect-A-Pet clinics offer low-cost, age appropriate vaccinations against distemper, pavovirus, rabies and other deadly diseases, as well as low-cost microchipping for dogs and cats for pet guardians who demonstrate low-income status. But the closest the society’s clinics will get to the Downriver area will be at Clark Park in southwest Detroit on May 16.

Closer to home, city animal shelters also put on adoption days and vaccination clinics while working on an ongoing basis with local veterinarians to help owners keep costs down. But the magnitude of the current recession isn’t making it easy.

Allen Park Animal Shelter employee Kalin Turri has seen an increase in residents who no longer can take care of their pets.

“Almost every day, if not multiple times a day, people are calling us that can’t hold on to their pets anymore,” she said.

Most of the calls are from people who are moving into apartments that are not considered “pet-friendly.”

To try to keep costs down for the residents, the shelter has formed a partnership with a veterinarian for a low-cost vaccination clinic.

Dr. John Hermann hosts a low-cost pet wellness and vaccine clinic from 5 to 8 p.m. every Saturday and Tuesday at Kim’s Suds ’n Shears Grooming Salon in Westland.

Residents can save up to $18 on wellness packages for their pets at the clinics. The packages include vaccines, fecal analysis, heartworm and rabies tests. Also available are microchipping for $30 and skin and ear issue exams for $18.

Southgate’s Animal Shelter also doesn’t offer vaccinations on its own, but works with VCA Animal Hospital of Taylor to offer them from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursdays. Puppy combos of DHPP, bordetella and fecal roundworm deworming cost $65, while kitten combos of RCP and roundworm deworming cost $30.

Rabies vaccines are $16 for dogs and cats. The top price for a dog vaccine is $30 for a DHPP/corona/lepto. The most expensive cat procedure is $40 for a FELV/FIV test.

Southgate also uses Humane Ohio in Toledo for vaccinations and some other services, including surgeries, shelter employee Aaron Bertera said.

“They do a really good job,” he said. “They have the lowest prices I can find. It’s worth the drive.”

Surgeries at Humane Ohio for cats are $45, $55 for dogs and $65 for dogs over 70 pounds. A $5 transport fee is also charged. People on government assistance are charged $25 for cats and $40 for dogs with proof of assistance.

However, since space is limited, the program rarely accepts dogs.

Taylor’s Animal Shelter doesn’t offer vaccinations, but refers residents to local veterinarians. A pet adoption clinic set for May 16, however, will be staffed by the Taylor Veterinary Clinic.

For more information on the adoption clinic or the veterinary clinic’s services, call (734) 287-7900.

Trenton and Woodhaven jointly operate a shelter at 21860 Van Horn Road in Woodhaven. It does not offer vaccinations on its own, but hosts an annual vaccination event featuring Trenton veterinarian Dr. John Oliver. This year’s event was held yesterday. In Wyandotte, Animal Control Officer Charles Gillenwater said the shelter has experienced an increase of residents having to give up their pets.

“There are Wyandotte residents losing their jobs and their homes and don’t have any means of keeping their pets,” he said.

There has been an increase of pet surrenders throughout the year, he said, with a 2 percent increase during the winter which is normally the shelter’s slow season.

To combat this, the Wyandotte Animal Shelter, along with Pound Pals and P.A.W.S., offers a low-cost spaying and neutering program.

On the first Monday of every month, a shuttle transports pets from the shelter to Humane Ohio for surgeries.

For the last four years the Wyandotte shelter also has held a low-cost vaccination clinic in September.

“We try to help out citizens that are really, really down,” Gillenwater said. “We do the best we can in trying to help them with their vet bills.”

Humane Society spokeswoman Jennifer Robertson said officials there are unsure if any of its clinics will be scheduled in the Downriver area anytime soon, but said that all pet owners can come to events like the one coming up at Clark Park.

For more information on future Protect-A-Pet clinics, go to www.michiganhumane.org.