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Kalamazoo County Animal Services Celebrates 94% Live Release Rate for 2018

Update: 10/2/2019

Dana Marshall and I were able to connect by phone at approx. 12:30 pm on 10/2/2019 and we were able to talk out our viewpoints amicably. Both Dana and I are very passionate about animals, and I am encouraged by his willingness to speak with me about animal welfare concerns. Our blog post has been edited to include information the community should consider that would help with the problem of pet overpopulation and pet retention. Thank you for your support and understanding, and as always, I am still happy to answer any questions you may have about animal welfare.


It would seem that good intentions have led to misunderstandings about shelter statistics. On 10/1/2019 103.3 WKFR posted, "This has got to change." On Facebook earlier this evening, and we couldn't agree more. The sharing of incomplete statistics has got to change.

The problem with statistics is that when taken out of context, they can portray a very different picture than what the numbers are representing.

In his article, Dana Marshall of 103.3 lists KCASE stats alongside eight other area rescues and shelters, two of which are cats-only rescues which do not accept dogs, and seven that are limited admission rescues. Those details are essential when comparing statistics, since limited admission shelters can pick and choose the animals they accept and stop accepting animals when they are full, whereas open admission shelters like KCASE are required by law to take every animal brought to them, including aggressive, behaviorally challenged, sick, injured, geriatric, pediatric and otherwise unadoptable pets. For this reason, open-admission shelter stats and limited admission shelter stats are apples to oranges, and cannot be compared by the same criteria.

Furthermore, KCASE, like many municipal shelters, offers an owner-surrender euthanasia service to the public. These animals are included in the intake and euthanasia statistics but are not animals the shelter themselves chose to put down. Marshall's article fails to mention that 337 of the 459 euthanized dogs and 257 cats of the 656 euthanized were brought to KCASE by their owners. Of the remaining euthanized animals, which includes 389 that were either too sick, injured, aggressive or otherwise unadoptable, 94% of their 2,702 intakes had a live release, which puts them firmly in the "no-kill" zone for 2018.

The county has made measurable and drastic improvements to its policies and standard operating procedures since current shelter director, Stephen Lawrence took over that departments leadership, including removal of the gas chamber, humane euthanasia for all animals including wildlife, more training for staff with improved equipment for safe handling of domestic and wild animals, and advocating for and successfully securing a $5 million shelter slated to open in the weeks to come to continue to improve life for the animals that find themselves at the KCASE shelter.

Marshall leaves you with the email address for Traci Moored, the county administrator, so that you can contact her if you seem alarmed, but we challenge you to reach out and thank the county for the new shelter that will soon be opening, and for continuing their dedication to supporting Stephen Lawrence and his staff as they work in the thankless, misunderstood, and often heartbreaking job of taking in the unwanted, abandoned and hopeless outcast animals of Kalamazoo County. You can email Traci at

Would you like to know more about how you can help as a member of the community?

Support spay & neuter! You can make a difference by ensuring your pets are fixed and helping to educate others. This surgical procedure prevents countless numbers of unwanted and unplanned litters of cats and dogs from being born. Since 2002, KHS has altered over 74,000 cats and dogs in southwest Michigan, and we're still doing hundreds each month.

Foster! Find a local rescue group and get qualified to be a foster! Fosters are an excellent place for pets that need extra work before being adopted. Many dogs do not do well in shelter environments or have special needs that are better managed in a home setting. Additionally, when you foster, you are freeing up space in the shelters for incoming pets, preventing euthanasia due to lack of space. Municipal shelters rely on rescue groups with shelters and foster space to pull the adoptable animals so that cage space is available for the constant stream of incoming strays. Fosters that can handle newborn and bottle-feeding babies, nursing moms with litters, and geriatric pets are in very high demand! Become a foster, and be the hero of your local shelter!

Volunteer! Rescues and shelters are usually in need of volunteers to help with everything from cleaning, to walking pets, to grooming! Even volunteers with office, event management or fundraising skills are needed! Put your talents to good use. If you have a particular ability but aren't sure how you can use it to help animals, please call your local shelter or humane society and find out if you could be helping animals!

A great example is that a woman who could crochet was able to help animals by donating her handmade items to KHS so that we could sell them and raise money for programs and services. We also have volunteers that sew our catnip squares, and deliver them to local vet clinics for sale! No matter what your hobby or talent is, a shelter or rescue group needs you!

Donate! Money doesn't solve all the problems, but it helps! KHS feeds approx. Two hundred fifty local cats and dogs a day to keep them with the families they already have, preventing them from being surrendered to a shelter or rescue. It's less expensive for us to provide the food than it is to shelter that animal. Monetary donations and pet supplies are in high demand at KHS, and all other rescue groups and shelters. You can also sponsor a spay or neuter surgery, organize a pet food drive or bottle driver at your work/school/church/neighborhood, donate gift cards to local pet supply stores, or even sponsor or attend fundraisers for local animal welfare groups!

The Kalamazoo Humane Society is holding it's annual Reverse Raffle on October 18! Tickets are $100 and support our low-cost spay/neuter program. This event is critical to the budget of our spay/neuter program, and we need to sell out by October 17! Click here to learn more -->

TNR! Trap-Neuter-Release is a program that traps feral cats, brings them to a spay/neuter clinic to be fixed, and releases the cat back to the colony. Learn more about feral cat management at the Alley Cat Allies website. You can also contact Animals Best Friend Fund to find out how you can help as a trapper or a barn home!

When your shelter asks for help, help! When your local shelter is vocal about their needs, do what you can to provide it! Whether that be a specific item or a general call to action to adopt, it's up to the community to step up and address the needs of the shelter so that the shelter can address the needs of the animals.

Earlier this week, KCASE posted on Facebook a reduction in adoption fees for cats as the shelter is full. This is an opportunity for anyone who would like to help to adopt and rescue a cat. Your shelter is asking for help; it's up to our community to respond.

Transport! If your shelter is overwhelmed with animals but doesn't have the resources to transport them to other agencies or new homes, ask your local shelter to help work out the details of a volunteer-run transport program or help organize a fund to pay for transport.

Think local first! If you're looking to adopt, start at your closest open-admission shelter. These animals are in the most critical situation. Do not refuse to visit a shelter because they are not "no-kill" - those shelters need the MOST support! Many rescues and shelters bring animals in from out of state! If you know of a shelter that is accepting animals from out of the area they work in, ask them to help locally to prevent an oversaturation of available pets in one area.

What not to do:

1. Demand more animals are adopted without taking action to help that become a reality.

2. Criticize shelter and rescue workers - they are the helpers, not the problem.

3. Allow pets to run loose and roam free

4. Allow irresponsible/unplanned breeding

5. Judge shelters and rescues based on "kill" and "no-kill" labels, or numbers alone.

6. Identify a problem without offering (nicely) to help with a solution.

There are so many ways our community can work together to reduce the number of incoming animals, which will, in turn, reduce the euthanasia rates.

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