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Michigan Humane Society

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal Protection & Welfare, Animal Training, Animals, Veterinary Services

Mission: To end companion animal homelessness, to provide the highest quality service and compassion to the animals entrusted to our care, and to be a leader in promoting humane values.

Programs: Animal Welfare,Animal Adoption & Care,Veterinary Services, low-cost sterilization, Humane Education, Cruelty Investigation and Emergency Rescue, community outreach; Trap-Neuter-Return

Community Stories

17 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

That's why Rescue Groups will some time end the not so Humane Societys

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

As a former volunteer I know for a fact they kill many health animals, or ones that might need more than the usual cost of just antibiotics...they use the city of Detroit as the reason for their high kill rate which has remained pretty much the same for years, I have tracked it on the Dept of Ag reports. As soon as you turn in your owned animal, they can kill it in a second if they need room. Strays have to be held 4 days, so if it's too crowded, the owned animals go first. They will always advertise a rescued animal at some point for the publicity, and if it's already gone public, that animal will likely be treated for whatever it needs to gain sympathy and donations. They DO do a lot of GOOD, but they are very convincing and manipulative with the public and what they very carefully say to the public, In 2013 you will need an appointment to turn in your owned animal. they already charge for it. Not sure what happens if you bring in a stray. the CEO gets about $20,000 raises each year in spite of the economy. check that info at Dept of Ag. They do NOT take in 100,000 animals a year as someone stated, it's more like 25 - 27,000 depending on the year I'm saying they have a lot of impact but not necessarily in a good way.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 1

MHS kills 7 out of 10 animals that enter their facility, year after year. Go view their reports on the Michigan Department of Agriculture website. The entire organization needs a sweep! They refused a COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT of their shelter, WHY? Now, you must make an appointment to surrender an animal...people will drop the poor animal on the side of the road, or worse! This is not the answer to improve their save rate! No transparency here! Four board members resigned in 2011 due to the HORRIFIC kill rate, excuse after excuse and their refusal to undergo a COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT. LEADERSHIP MUST CHANGE TO SAVE THE ANIMALS! DEMAND a LEADERSHIP CHANGE!

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

How terrible that so little improvement has been made! One year after losing four board members over its euthanasia rate, the Michigan Humane Society has hired people to evaluate shelter practices and has become more transparent, but its critics said little has changed with regard to saving animals' lives.A clarifying statement to donors identifies MHS as a stand-alone charity, rather than a statewide umbrella organization that funds other humane societies. But not all information is available.The Free Press requested copies of the full reports from the Cornell team and another consultant, as the summaries lack full findings. Last year, the Free Press requested multiple times to view animal records, to better understand euthanasia decisions. All requests were denied.But that statistic belies other numbers: From 2007-11, MHS reported to the state a euthanasia rate between 67% and 70% for dogs and cats, deeming those animals unhealthy and often taken for a fee. Another criticism of the organization is of fund-raising stories of sick and severely injured animals nursed back to health by MHS. The ads are misleading, the critics said, because donors believe such lifesaving measures are standard, even as the euthanasia numbers do not support that message. There's been no improvement."

Such criticisms were the basis of three charity fraud complaints filed in the last year against MHS with the Michigan attorney general, including one that referenced a similar case in Pennsylvania.Yet, MHS has designed its treatment protocol to transfer to other shelters and animal welfare groups those animals that it decides not to treat.Former board member Cheryl Phillips said MHS has the largest veterinary budget of any Michigan shelter, so to transfer animals rather than treat them is shifting the burden to those with fewer resources.

The Michigan Pet Fund Alliance said in a statement that the humane society's decision to disregard the intake recommendation is tantamount to animal cruelty.

"Why would MHS cling to this failed model?" the group asked in a statement. "If individuals or rescue groups were taking in more animals than they could care for, so much so that more than two-thirds of them ended up dead every year, wouldn't we call that animal cruelty?"

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Yes, MHS does bash others. In fact, it looks like MHS leadership is willing to pay to bash others. The full post is at: http://www.nathanwinograd.com/?p=6990 It was just a matter of time before someone got desperate enough and lacked the ethics to do it. And it looks like it is the Michigan Humane Society. Today, I was informed that the leadership of MHS attempted to hire a public relations firm in Michigan to engage in a full blown smear campaign against me. The Michigan Humane Society indicated that it was willing to pay for private investigators. At least one firm declined, stating that doing so was unethical. It may also be illegal, amounting to a misuse of donor funds and conspiracy to commit fraud. I’ve already hired an attorney, who is working on both a ‘cease and desist’ letter to the Michigan Humane Society Board, as well as asking the Attorney General of Michigan to open up an investigation. Donors are giving [them] money to save lives. Not to kill them. And certainly not to hire private investigators and public relations firms in order to engage in a smear campaign. This is a shame. What a terrible use of donor funds.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

I do not understand why MHS has such a high rating when they kill 7 out of every 10 animals they take in - 9.6 pets EVERY HOUR as they themselves have reported to the Michigan Dept. of Agriculture. They are one of the 8 worst animal shelter in the state of Michigan. Please direct your donations to animal welfare groups who will use it to actually save adoptable and treatable dogs and cats, puppies and kittens. A question below asks if they are life-changing. They sure are for all the animal thery kill every day.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 1

Don't think people don't see the good things that go on at MHS either. Even those of us who question leadership and think the organization is headed in the wrong direction see the good. There is a lot of good going on there as well. We all know that. Once again, this is an issue of leadership and direction of the organization, and transparency.
There are a number of us who have tried to bring our issues to those at MHS who do have the authority to address our concerns. Each time we came forward with our issues, management has always been "unavailable" and board members generally don't respond. With no alternative left, a growing number of us are now speaking out about our concerns.
Asking legitimate questions and posting truthful information that gives insight into how MHS operates is not what I consider to be bashing or a personal vendetta.
Ultimately, MHS is the people's charity. The public has a right to know what goes on, how resources are used, and what oversight is in place. The public deserves to hear the truth. Period.
Speaking of the truth, the 2011 Individual Michigan Shelter Statistics are in from the Michigan Department of Agriculture:
Dogs and cats
25668 Received
17265 euthanized = 67.26% euth rate dogs and cats
8403 = 32.74% save rate dogs and cats.
Yet, on the MHS Website, it's stated that,
"MHS worked diligently to achieve its goal of 100% adoption for adoptable animals, which was reached two years ago and the organization is now working to attain that same goal for animals deemed to be as treatable."
So if MHS has achieved it's goal of a 100% adoption rate for adoptable animals, that means that MHS deemed all 17265 dogs and cats as not adoptable. It is incomprehensible that that number of animals are beyond redemption.
"Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth."

Review from CharityNavigator

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

MHS does so much with so little, in large part due to their great volunteers, and they are able to help over 100,000 animals a year without turning anyone away because of cost or space. If people wanted to really help animals, they would simply take their arguments up with the individuals whom which they have issues and stop pasting duplicates of their personal vendettas on review boards meant for constructive feedback of an organization. MHS doesn't bash others, continuing to work with groups that dump their unwanted cases on MHS so they can keep up the appearance of being "no-kill," the philosophical tenets of which one finds that MHS closely follows if they know the definition of the term.

Review from CharityNavigator

1 John Jacobs

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Someone mentioned in an earlier post about problems with transparency not being new to MHS.

They were not kidding.
Ex-HSUS VP Wills cops a plea



Hoyt then recommended Wills to the Michigan Humane Society, where he was executive director, 1979-1989. Wills resigned from MHS when the board began inquiring into the disappearance of $1.6 million. A bookkeeper, Denise Hopkins, was eventually convicted of embezzling $56,000 of the missing sum. Wills next founded the National Society for Animal Protection, only to dissolve it when he joined HSUS.

Recovery from Misuse of Funds Takes Years


At MHS,
Been there, Done That.

South of Santa Cruz, on the far side of Monterey Bay, SPCA of Monterey County executive director Gary Tiscornia could testify from direct experience about the difficulties that the Santa Cruz SPCA, Sevierville Huame Society, LA/SPCA, et al can expect to meet ahead. Tiscornia headed the Michigan Humane Society for a decade after predecessor David Wills departed, leaving an unexplained deficit of $1.6 million.

Bookkeeper Denise Hopkins was successfully prosecuted for allegedly embezzling a small portion of it. Wills was successfully sued in 1994 for taking money under false pretenses at his next stop, the defunct National Society for Animal Protection, and was in 1997 convicted of embezzling from the Humane Society of the U.S., where he was vice president for investigations, 1991-1994.

Wills was never brought to account for any of the missing Michigan Humane money, however, and although Tiscornia was credited with impressively rebuilding the organization, the losses had a ripple effect evident even 10 years afterward, when Michigan Humane cut back a discount pet sterilization program because tight funding inhibited hiring enough veterinarians to keep it operating at all three of the MHS shelters.

4 Keith L.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was working all day and came home that night to find my cat was having trouble breathing. I called the Westland clinic and told them of my findings, they were concerned and made a great effort to get her in right away at the last minute so she could be treated and start medications to start her on the road to recovery. The staff was very compassionate and the veterinarian even stayed past closing time to make sure I understood what was wrong with my cat, what the medicine was treating and what symptoms on which I should keep a close watch. These folks work so hard to care for the animals and provide great service to folks who have nowhere else to turn. People who complain about some of the Michigan Humane Society policies should try and get similar quality services from another organization in Michigan; I think they will find that no other nonprofit meets their high standards, if they can even get another group to help them!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 1

I'm not sure that I know what "Open Admission" means anymore. This article represents a turning point when employees and volunteers began to notice a shift in focus from helping animals to numbers and money.


Critics: Humane Society goes astray

Fees, limits on dropoffs lead some to question if organization is losing its focus

John Wisely / The Detroit News

Wednesday April 12, 2006

Has the Michigan Humane Society lost touch with its original animal welfare mission?

ROCHESTER HILLS -- The Michigan Humane Society promotes its mission with pictures of cats and dogs and the slogan "Someone here needs you."

But many critics, including some former staffers and volunteers, say the state's largest animal welfare group is retreating from a mission it has pursued for more than 100 years: caring for stray animals.

"I would ask them what the mission statement is now," said Linda Gardiner of Shelby Township, who worked for four years as an administrative assistant at the Humane Society's Rochester Hills shelter before leaving last year.

The group's leader said the Michigan Humane Society remains committed to homeless animals, but in response to Detroit News questions, he acknowledges it has sent mixed messages and even instituted a fee to people who repeatedly drop off strays. He also reiterated to his staff that they must accept any animal in need.

But questions over the fate of strays loom large in the animal welfare community. More than 240,000 stray animals land in Michigan shelters each year and about 55 percent are euthanized. Some animal advocates say care of strays is best left to government-run shelters. Others say the independent, privately funded humane societies have historically offered strays a second chance and now may be drifting from that work.

Group gives mixed messages

The Michigan Humane Society, the state's largest, operates three shelters in Wayne and Oakland counties on a $12 million annual budget. Officials there insist they still take strays and if any were turned away, it was a staff mistake. But executive director Cal Morgan acknowledged his group has contributed to the confusion.

"That message has been mixed in terms of how we handle people that come up to the counter," Morgan said.

Sue McNeary said the kitten that wandered over to her Pontiac home last fall had matted fur, a famished frame and a case of fleas. But she said the staff at the Humane Society's Rochester Hills shelter turned it away.

"They said it was too sick," said McNeary, who eventually gave the cat to a rescue group. "They suggested I take it to Oakland County."

Morgan clarified the policy for staffers and volunteers in an April 6 memo.

"It is the policy of the Michigan Humane Society to accept any and all animals in need during regular business hours," Morgan wrote. Morgan said the Michigan Humane Society hasn't even discussed closing its doors to strays.

However, since mid-September, it has been urging people to take stray animals to local animal control facilities, to increase the odds of reuniting them with their owners by limiting the places pet owners must search, Morgan said.

Larry Olbrecht, manager of county animal control, said since October, monthly animal intakes to his facility are up 15 percent over the same months a year earlier.

A former Humane Society adoption counselor said the Humane Society previously asked people to take animals to the animal control office only when they had bitten someone.

"They may be saying it's not a change, but that's a change," said Brian Stouffer, 45, of Troy, who volunteered for eight years before quitting in August. He and others worry that forcing animal Samaritans to navigate multiple animal control jurisdictions may make them give up on homeless critters.

"If someone brings in a stray and we tell them put it back in your car and take it over here, that's a real pain," he said.

Under Michigan law, shelter operators who accept strays must keep them at least four business days to allow owners a chance to reclaim them.

In addition to its shelters, the Michigan Humane Society operates clinics, conducts education seminars and cruelty investigations and lobbies for animal rights. Except those under contract, humane societies are not legally obligated to accept strays. Most do, but some have stopped. The Capital Area Humane Society, which serves Ingham, Clinton and Eaton counties, quit taking them four years ago, said chief executive officer Stephen Heaven.

"They are doing the right thing" by referring people to animal control, Heaven said. People who lose pets need a simple way to find them, he said.

Stray fee alienates some

The stray fee adopted last fall irked animal advocates. An internal memo obtained by The News dated Sept. 15, 2005, applies to private individuals who surrender more than three strays in 12 months.

"After an individual has surrendered three animals to MHS, a sliding scale fee in $10 increments will be assessed for subsequent animals surrendered to the MHS," said the memo from Steve Horn, chief administrative officer.

Critics argue the fee discourages people from helping strays.

"I don't think the solution is to charge people $10 per cat," said Chad Gilchrist, 34, of Hazel Park, a former shelter staff supervisor for MHS who quit last year.

Other Humane Society officials said fees could discourage people from dropping off animals.

"We know that people will dump it on the side of the road," said Tanya Hilgendorf, executive director of the Humane Society of Huron Valley in Washtenaw County, which levies no fee. "Our whole job is about giving these animals a second chance."

Morgan himself seemed confused about the fee policy.

"I'm not aware of anything that says there's a fee," Morgan said in an interview last week. But when asked about the September memo, Morgan said the policy was aimed at people who were known to drop dozens of animals at a time, even though another section of the memo addresses "placement groups." He said he doesn't believe the fee has ever been levied.

"We're always going to be committed to animal welfare on every level, strays, owner surrenders, etc," Morgan said.

Some animal welfare advocates disagree.

"I don't think they should be charging people to drop off strays," said Sherry Wozniak, 34, of Livonia, who said she donates about $100 to MHS in a typical year. She said the Humane Society is synonymous with investigating animal cruelty and caring for strays and it risks misleading people if it doesn't accept stray animals.

"With the impression they are giving, if they are changing that policy, they should let people know," she said.

Others are more skeptical.

"They have lost touch with the animals," said former staffer Linda Gardiner. "They have lost sight of what it's supposed to be."

Review from CharityNavigator

4 Pam_8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer with, and a donor to, the Michigan Humane Society for 20 years. I type '20 years' with a smile on my face because I have so much pride in being affiliated with such a wonderful organization. I have had numerous opportunities to volunteer in different areas with MHS; animal care, fostering, fundraising, pet education, animal welfare conferences, numerous special events, and have participated in many training sessions. The Michigan Humane Society is consistent (and constant) about the homeless animals in their care being their Number 1 priority. I am constantly amazed at their willingness to try new ways to help the animals, whether it be with events, training, etc. What is important to remember is that MHS does not turn away any animals that come through their doors and MHS has so many opportunities to give animals the additional opportunities to find a loving home through various pet adoption events, not to mention the many, many foster 'parents' that take the animals in until a loving home is found. People need to remember that it is through donations and fundraising that this is possible.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

I think the problems at MHS are a reflection of their leadership. The people in the trenches and even in to lower levels of management are mostly very sincere and hard working. But, this is all about leadership and I speak not of any one person when I say that, but leadership as a whole. It's very hard to get questions like these answered, or even asked, when an organization like MHS has close ties to the media and even elected officials. MHS has quite a PR machine. I don't think anyone is trying to "bash" MHS. I think people want to know answers to questions. And, the public has a right to know. We feel answers to some basic questions are due to the tri-county residents and contributors -not to mention answers and changes are needed so that another 17,000 cats and dogs are not killed again by MHS.

1. Why when it is required by law to report statistics by shelter does MHS combine all three shelters to report their numbers? Combined numbers make it impossible to determine performance of each of the three shelters - suburban Oakland and Wayne County shelters and the city of Detroit shelter.

2. Why did 4 members of the MHS board resign this year?

3. Why did MHS not undertake the complete organization assessment –especially since a donor volunteered to subsidize the cost - with one of the most renowned teams in animal sheltering in the U.S. - to learn how to save more lives?

4. Why has the MHS Board of Directors never adopted an annual policy document called the Asilomar key or matrix which defines what is healthy, treatable and unhealthy/untreatable animals and determines what animals live and which are killed.

5. Why has the largest and most wealthy cat and dog animal welfare organization in Michigan not improved saving lives for the last four years and has consistently killed 7 out of 10 animals that come in the door?

6. Why did MHS refuse to join the Oakland County coalition resulting in the coalition missing out in over a million dollars in Maddies grants - the only requirement was to publish the statistics for the Rochester Hills shelter according to the Asilomar definitions of healthy, treatable, and unhealthy/untreatable?

7. Why would MHS not want to be totally transparent to their donors and the general public?

8. Why does MHS think comparison of MHS and the Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV) unreasonable? Both are open admission shelters. MHS has a save rate of less than 30%. HSHV has a save rate of more than 80%. MHS has 14.8% of individuals living in poverty –if their service area is defined as Wayne (including Detroit) and Oakland County (where they have their three shelters) or 12.8 percent of households living in poverty – if their service area is defined as Wayne (including Detroit), Oakland and Macomb County. HSHV has 14.6% of the individuals living in poverty in their service area defined as Washtenaw County. MHS has about 5% of their total intake from outside of Wayne (including Detroit), Oakland and Macomb Counties. HSHV has bout 15% of their intake from outside Washtenaw County. If poverty is not the primary factor that MHS uses as their claim for animals being in "bad shape" in the City of Detroit – what is? How can HSHV do so much better when they have about the same or even a higher percentage of individuals living in poverty?

9. MHS is the wealthiest animal organization in the state of Michigan with an annual budget of $13.9 million dollars, 6 employees who make over $100,000 per year in salary and a CEO with nearly $185,000 in salary alone on an annual basis. Why with such high paid management is improvement not being made?

10. Why is it O.K. to accept a "save rate of less than 30% from MHS when save rates around the U.S. are double or triple this figure - New York City (almost 70%), Denver (over 90%) , Austin (90%), and even poverty stricken Reno, Nevada (Washoe County is 93%).

The homeless cats and dogs in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties need MHS to improve. MHS has provided no definition to what is an adoptable or "healthy" animal. It is unfathomable to us why the status quo of killing 17,000 cats and dogs a year is acceptable to anyone especially any animal lover. Do you think they will do better if we don’t point out their poor performance? Why is MHS not improving and saving more lives? What is to hide by publishing their performance by shelter?

MHS is not a good "representative" of shelters or rescue organizations in the state because of both their performance but also their lack of transparency and unwillingness to post their numbers by shelter (Detroit and two suburban)

Citizens believe that they are the MHS for all humane societies and often support MHS with the expectation that they funnel money to their local humane societies and they do NOTHING to correct this misconception

There are other leaders in the state when it comes to sheltering that the legislature needs to consult but unfortunately they don’t have the resources to be in Lansing but would gladly make themselves available to give front line assessments.

3

Donor

Rating: 5

I grew up in Detroit and now live in a near suburb, and I have been familiar with MHS my whole life. I have always known and respected MHS for its untiring work in support of its mission to help animals and people in our community. I have adopted several animals from MHS, and I have been a long-time donor. I was also on staff from 2008-2010. Although I returned to my prior employer for professional reasons, I continue to be involved with MHS as a volunteer. To be honest, before I started working at MHS, I was afraid that working there would be like visiting the kitchen in your favorite restaurant - I might not like what I saw from the inside. It turns out my fears were completely baseless. Based on what I learned through my first-hand experiences with the organization, I know that MHS consists of the most dedicated, selfless, talented, and professional animal welfare people I have met anywhere. I have never known anyone in the organization to engage in bashing another animal welfare group, which I see as grossly unprofessional and a complete waste of time. They keep their eyes on the mission and goal of helping as many animals as possible. To a person and as an organization, they face tremendous challenges with creativity, grace under pressure, and fortitutde. They are constantly challenging themselves and others to do what's best for animals and people. MHS is a leader and an innovator. They have earned my undying support.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Being of that certain age group that has not only the maturity that comes with a 40+ year work history and all the exposures and experiences that were "fringe benefits" to that, two things stand out in my experience as a long-time volunteer with the Michigan Humane Society: 1. the unbelievable abuse and cruelty that continues to be inflicted on animals by society's underbelly, and 2. the non-stop efforts of the staff and management of MHS to their mission of promoting humane values, care and compassion towards the animals entrusted to their care and ending animal homelessness. MHS is truly a dynamic organization in the animal welfare world - continually evaluating processes and practices to bring the best possible outcomes for every animal that comes through their doors, furred, feathered or otherwise. Their open admissions policy means no animal is turned away, period. Until one actually sees the conditions of so many animals that come through the Detroit shelter's doors on a depressingly regular basis, one should not be so quick to criticize or condemn their work.

3

Donor

Rating: 5

For over a decade I have been a donor to MHS. I have also adopted from MHS and am a veterinary client of MHS. As a donor I have every confidence that my donations are used fully in support of an extraordinary and complex mission. I see more community outreach, animal adoptions, preventive care, and family assistance from MHS than any other organization. I know my contributions are having significant impact every day and I trust in the expertise of the MHS staff based on my experience as an adopter and veterinary client. Great job MHS!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

An effective evaluation of an organization is how well are they doing in achieving their mission and that is not reflected in the three stars provided by Charity Navigator. The MHS mission is to: To end companion animal homelessness, to provide the highest quality service and compassion to the animals entrusted to our care, and to be a leader in promoting humane values. Ending homelessness should never be equated with killing those in your care - however MHS kills 7 out of 10 homeless cats and dogs that come in their door according to their 2010 annual statistics reported to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development … over 17,000 cats and dogs that year alone. They provide their contributors and supporters with excuses ....open admission, poor animal condition in Detroit, etc. But they fail to mention that they have three shelters, one in one of the nation’s wealthiest counties, a second in a middle class suburban community and only one in the inner city. MHS is NOT animal control bringing in the worst of the worst; they are the best funded animal welfare organization in Michigan. They refuse to be transparent and publish their animal statistics by shelter - - - hidings under the umbrella called…."things are so bad in Detroit." Other open admission shelters around the county in poor communities are saving 70%, 80%, and even 90% of the animals in their care. There is a proven formula for saving 90% of all shelter homeless cats and dogs but MHS refuses to embrace the formula. Bottom line - - - this organization although well-funded, lacks leadership and is a total failure in meeting their core mission.

Review from CharityNavigator