Free-roaming shelter opens in Wyandotte

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – Those adopting pets from a pound often wonder how the animal they see behind cage doors will fit into their already-established home.

A new shelter hopes to make the transition to adoption easier for pets and owners by removing the cages and letting cats roam free in a homelike environment.

Shelter to Home Inc., a southeast Michigan-based pet rescue group, will mark its fifth anniversary Saturday with the grand opening of its new free-roaming adoption facility at 266 Oak. The facility is one of the first of its kind in the area.

“Everyone hates to go into the pound,” Shelter to Home Treasurer Lori Wend said. “It’s a scary place. It’s dingy, it’s dirty, the animals look so sad. We always invited people to our homes to see what the foster care animals were like, so we thought, ‘Why don’t we have a facility like that?’”

A grand opening celebration is scheduled for noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, with pets ready for adoption and tours offered of the facility. Attendees can also bring a photo of their pet for inclusion in a time capsule for a $1 donation.

Renovating the house, built in 1874 by the Lillienthal family and formerly used as a chiropractor’s office, took months of work for the volunteer staff, who originally bought the property in August and converted the graffiti-covered interior into a five-bedroom house where cats rescued from euthanizing shelters can freely roam the five rooms and lounge on cozy beds and chairs.

A “zen room” decorated with Buddha sculptures and overstuffed cat beds also is featured.

Wend said the comfortable furnishings help a visitor see a cat as a potential member of their family.

“There’s cats on pillows, cats on the bed,” Wend said. “They get that realistic thought that, ‘Yeah, this cat can come to my house and he can camp out on the foot of my bed.’”

The facility can hold up to 25 cats. The 90-member group accepts only cats from shelters, to offer homes to cats that would otherwise be euthanized.

“It’s super important to us,” Wend said. “The animals in the pound, we’re like their last chance.”