By CHARITY B. SMITH
Sunday Times Newspapers
Imagine a 90-degree day locked in a room with no fans or air conditioning and you will understand what the animals at The Downriver Central Animal Control Shelter, 14300 Reaume Pkwy in Southgate, were going to suffer through July 17 if it had not been for an animal loving volunteer and the generosity of Home Depot, 3163 Fairlane Drive.
The shelter’s only large drum fan broke a couple days prior and the facility has no central air. Without the aid of the large drum fan the dog room becomes hot and the animals have nowhere to go to cool down.
“When I found out it was supposed to be 90 degrees and we had no drum fan I immediately started calling around,” volunteer Michelle Maye said. “My first call was to The Home Depot. I called them at 10 a.m., and by 11 a.m. we had a fan.”
The shelter is a repurposed structure that was formerly a public restroom. It was redesigned with the help of a $137,000 state grant, and opened in April 2013. It is funded through the cities of Allen Park, Lincoln Park, Wyandotte and Southgate.
It also has its own nonprofit, Pound Pals, which helps to cover the animals’ medical expenses. Still the facility is in need of many things, such as choke collars, leashes, cat litter, any and all cleaning supplies, and people’s time.
“We solicit a lot, because we don’t have funding for all that is necessary,” Chief Animal Control Officer Aaron Bertera said.
PetSmart in Taylor has started contributing weekly to the shelter, with donations of opened bags of dog, cat food, cat box filler, leashes and collars.
“Collars and leashes are a very hot commodity around here,” Bertera said. “They get stolen quite frequently.”
Maye and Abraham said the animals in the facility could benefit from central air conditioning.
“The city has chosen not to get air conditioning, which would really help the dogs in the dog room,” Pound Pals Director Tom Abraham said.
“We are looking for a heating and cooling company that would be willing to donate and install duct work,” Maye said.
The facility has gone through many phases and improvement stages since it opened. A cat room wing was added, and are plans are in the works for offering straw and dog houses for outdoor dogs this winter. Bertera has used old street signs to make guillotine doors so the dogs can go from one area to another freely and have a bit more space.
“It’s the ingenuity that some people miss out on,” Bertera said. “I would love to get the Taj Mahal, but compared to what we did have, I have made quite a few improvements. ”
Shelter officials are looking for two more animal control officers.
“We need people who are devoted to the animals, and realize that this place is nonstop, and more than just playing with puppies and kitties,” Bertera said. “I’ve been in animal control for eight years, most people don’t last more than eight months.”
Shelter officials are hoping they can find officers soon to add to their three-person staff, along with dozens more volunteers to help run the day-to-day operations.
To donate time or items and services to the Downriver Central Animal Control Shelter call 734-246-1328.
(Charity B. Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)