Michigan Humane Society

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The Michigan Humane Society (MHS) is a private, non-profit organization providing animal welfare and sheltering services to the metropolitan Detroit area. Events at the Michigan Humane Society are featured in the Animal Planet channel's reality television series Animal Cops: Detroit.


The Michigan Humane Society is a private, non-profit organization serving the animals and people of metropolitan Detroit. Founded in 1877, it is the state of Michigan's oldest and largest animal welfare organization. In addition, it is one of the largest animal welfare organizations in the country based on the number of animals cared for and the scope of programs and services. The Michigan Humane Society receives no government funding, is not affiliated with any national humane organization or other Michigan-based animal welfare organizations, and depends on the generosity of individual and corporate supporters to fund its programs and services.[1]

The Michigan Humane Society provides care for more than 100,000 animals each year in southeast Michigan. There are three centers for animal care in Detroit, Rochester Hills, and Westland. Each year more than 10,000 animals are placed in homes, and more than 1500 lost animals are reunited with their guardians. The Michigan Humane Society provides a cruelty hotline staffed by professional cruelty investigators to assist animals in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park 365 days a year. To reduce pet overpopulation, 13,000 surgeries are performed each year in addition to low cost sterilizations. Annually more than 20,000 children are educated; teaching them compassion, respect for animals and responsible animal care. The Michigan Humane Society is also a driving force for greater legislative protection for animals throughout Michigan.[1]

The Michigan Humane Society is Michigan’s largest open admission facility and will accept any animal at its three facilities, regardless of age, location, health or temperament. Animals that come to MHS are evaluated for health and temperament lead by nationally renowned experts in the fields of pet behavioral science and over a dozen highly trained veterinarians, and if found to be able to be placed into a new home, will go up for adoption. MHS has no time limits or pre-determined length of stay for animals being offered for adoption.[2]

In 2010, MHS adopted out 100 percent of all healthy animals in its three facilities, and doubled its adoption rate of treatable animals. As defined by the Asilomar Accords, whose establishment was led by Maddie’s Fund to provide standardized definition and terminology of the condition of animals that come into animal care facilities, MHS had a 2010 “save rate” of 75.6 percent of animals that can be placed into homes. MHS has committed to reaching guaranteed placement of all healthy and treatable animals within the next several years.

Some critics of MHS use alternative methods to define a shelter’s save rate which reject the standardized Asilomar definitions. A 2011 report by the Michigan Pet Fund claimed MHS’ save rate to be below 30 percent. In 2010, 85 percent of all animals euthanized at MHS were unhealthy or untreatable based on their medical condition or temperament as defined by the Asilomar Accords and thus could not be placed into homes.

June 2011 Board of Directors Controversy[edit]

In June 2011, MHS board members Cheryl Phillips and Lee Lien resigned from the board citing what they termed an "unacceptable euthanasia rate" of 70%.[3] Phillips, who called for an independent audit of MHS' shelter practices, is quoted as saying, "What I signed on for was to protect and preserve the rights of animals. Instead of making excuses of why we kill, let’s save lives."

MHS responded on their website saying that the board members had resigned over differences of opinion as to whether or not MHS should remain an open-admissions shelter. They explain their euthanasia rates as the result of their open-admission status and higher intakes of dangerous and/or ill animals then other area shelters.[4] They did not address the question of an external audit.

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