Friday, December 20, 2019

How to find a humane pet in Michigan

Paws for Life "Pop up Adoption Center" at the Oakland Mall (2019)

I am often asked “Do you keep track of good dog breeders in Michigan?” or “Is there a list out there?” Unfortunately, I don’t and there is no list, but I can tell you where to begin your humane search to find a pet. 

Shelters are the best route! 

The best way to humanely find a pet is to adopt through your local shelter (See list below). When you adopt a shelter pet, you not only save one life, but two when you make room for another animal in need.  

Oakland County alone has 16 animal shelters! Most counties have municipal shelters funded by tax payers, while others are operated under non-profit organizations (private shelters) or can be found at a veterinary clinic like Greenfield Animal Hospital or Gasow Veterinary Clinic. My favorites are those that work hard to ensure animals are “easy to meet” and that families have a good experience during the adoption process, like the Catfe Lounge in Ferndale. 

There is a big financial benefit as well with adoption fees ranging from $50-$350 -significantly lower than the cost of purchasing a dog or cat from a pet store or breeder. (Note, pet stores are not a recommended option in any state!) Adoption fees typically include sterilization, rabies and other core vaccinations, veterinary health checks, behavior evaluations, and microchips to protect public health and safety. Some shelters also offer adopters education/counseling and post-adoption support services to encourage responsible ownership and will take the animal back if the adopter can no longer care for the animal. 

Here is a general list of places to find pets in Michigan: 

1. Start first at your local shelter! 

  • There are 174 shelters licensed across the state. (See list below). 
  • Municipal County or City 
  • Non-profit shelters
  • Veterinary Clinic Shelters
  • Sanctuaries too. Some do adopt out animals.
  • Shelters may also have small animals, birds and reptiles for adoption, including rabbits, parrots, chinchillas, ferrets, hamsters and gerbils. Over 700 pet rabbits were taken in by 38 shelters across Michigan in 2018! 

2. Don’t forget about home-based rescues with foster homes in your area.

  • Contact a Michigan Certified Rescue. Michigan is the only state offering a certification program for foster-based rescues that promotes best practices and a code of ethics. 
  • Some offer Foster-to-Adopt Programs 
  • Look for pet store adoption centers and weekend events. Paws for Life (Troy, MI) now offers “pop up adoption centers” in selected shopping malls. 
  • Including rabbits, birds, ferrets and pocket pets. 
  • While many rescues can be found on and, I recommend working with rescues that are either certified in Michigan or have a relationship with their local shelter. 

3. Local breeders 

  • Obtain referrals through local veterinary clinic and local breed clubs. 
  • Use the “How to Find a Responsible Breeder Guide” 
  • Never use out of state breeders or have a puppy shipped. 
  • Avoid online sellers. 
  • Prepare to be on a waiting list! 

Do you know someone who prefers using breeders? 

If you or someone you know are set on trying to find a “good” breeder, I would recommend contacting your local veterinary clinic and ask which breeders they work with often and are receiving veterinary care regularly. If you have already found a breeder and want to do more research, check with the local breed clubs. They often are well aware of the “bad breeders”. 

While referrals may be helpful, knowing how to conduct your own research and ask the right questions is always very important. Just because your co-worker purchased a puppy from a specific breeder, does not mean they properly vetted them or the kennel may have deteriorated since then. 

Start with the Humane Society of the United States “How to Find a Responsible Breeder Guide”.

While most Michigan dog kennels may be licensed by the county, annual inspections do not guarantee animals are humanely breed or raised, in addition kennel licenses are optional if the dogs are licensed individually. You can always check with the local animal control to see if the kennel or dogs are properly licensed and inspections have been conducted. 

Large-scale dog kennels in Michigan must be licensed by the state and it appears most of them are not coming forward to obtain their license. Only 8 were licensed in 2018, while our Puppy Mill Awareness of SE Michigan kennel study indicated there were approximately 50 kennels in 2010 that may have over 15 intact dogs used for breeding. 

Of course, avoid large-scale kennels, never shop online or have an animal shipped. It is very easy to be fooled by fancy websites. Insist on visiting the kennel, seeing the conditions, and meeting the puppy’s parents. Look for the red flags and listen to your gut.  

Michigan Licensed Shelters by County
Alcona Humane Society
Alger County Animal Shelter
Allegan County Animal Shelter
Alpena County Animal Control
Huron Humane Society Inc.
Antrim County Animal Control
Antrim County Pet and Animal Watch
Arenac County Animal Control
Barry County Animal Shelter
Bay County Animal Shelter & Care Center
Benzie County Animal Control and Shelter
Berrien County Animal Control
Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan
Branch County Animal Shelter
Humane Society of Branch County
Calhoun County Animal Center, Inc.
Companion Cats Inc.
Humane Society of South Central Michigan
Irwin Ave Animal Hospital
Cass County Animal Control
Charlevoix County Humane Society
Cheboygan County Humane Society
Chippewa County Animal Shelter
Clare County Animal Shelter
Capital Area Humane Society
Clinton County Animal Shelter
Au Sable Valley Animal Shelter
Delta Animal Shelter
Almost Home Animal Shelter-Dickinson County
Eaton County Animal Control
Emmet County Stray Center
Little Traverse Bay Humane Society
Adopt-A-Pet, Inc.
Genesee County Animal Control
Humane Society of Genesee County
Gladwin County Animal Control/Shelter
Help Orphaned Pets Everywhere
Grand Traverse
Cherryland Humane Society
Dalis to the Rescue
Gratiot County Animal Shelter
Greater Hillsdale Humane Society
Copper Country Humane Society
Thumb Animal Shelter
Ingham County Animal Control
Ionia County Animal Shelter
Mackenzie's Animal Sanctuary
Iosco County Animal Shelter
Northwoods Animal Shelter
Isabella County Animal Control
Cascades Humane Society
Jackson County Animal Shelter
Kalamazoo Animal Rescue
Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement
Kzoo Cat Rescue
SPCA of Southwest Michigan
Kalkaska Animal Control Shelter
Carol's Ferals
Crash's Landing (INCLS BIG SIDS)
Focus on Ferals
Happy Cat Café (foster for Carol's Ferals)
Humane Society of West Michigan
Kelley's Heart-to-Heart Adoption Center
Kent County Animal Shelter
Kitty Koop Cat Rescue & Adoption
Vicky's Pet Connection (The Critter Cottage, LLC)
Lake County Animal Control
Lapeer County Animal Control
Pardise Animal Rescue
Great Lakes Humane Society Animal Shelter
Addison Veterinary Clinic, PC
Lenawee Humane Society
Tecumseh Police Department Animal Shelter
Humane Society of Livingston County
Livingston County Animal Control
Mackinac County Animal Shelter
City of Warren Animal Control
Detroit Animal Welfare Group (DAWG)
Humane Society of Macomb Animal Shelter
I Heart Dogs Rescue and Animal Haven
Macomb County Animal Control
Serenity Animal Hospital, P.C.
Sterling Heights Police Department
Manistee County Animal Shelter
Manistee County Humane Society
Ishpeming Township Animal Control
Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter, Inc.
Mason County Animal Shelter
Animal Rescue Coalition of Mecosta County
AuCaDo Rescue Mid Michigan
Menominee Animal Shelter
Humane Society of Midland County
Missaukee Humane Society
Friends of Companion Animals
Humane Society of Monroe County
Monroe County Animal Control Shelter
Monroe Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals
Northbound Hound
Montcalm County Animal Control
Peke A Tzu Rescue
Elk Country Animal Shelter
Cat Tales Rescue
Faithful to Felines (West Mich. SPCA)
Golden Years Alaskan Malamute Rescue, Inc
Humane Society & Animal Rescue of Muskegon County
Noah Project
Pound Buddies/Muskegon County Animal Control
Bellwether Harbor
McCloud's Lake Haven
Newaygo County Animal Shelter
Almost Home Animal Rescue League
Animal Welfare Society of Southeastern Michigan
Bark Nation
Bloomfield Twp Animal Shelter
Catfe Lounge
City of Madison Heights Animal Shelter
City of Oak Park Pound
Gasow Veterinary Hospital
Greenfield Animal Hospital
Hazel Park Animal Control Shelter
K-9 Stray Rescue League Inc.
Michigan Humane Society (Rochester Center for Animal Care)
New Beginnings Animal Rescue
Oakland County Animal Control & Pet Adoption Center
Royal Oak Animal Shelter
Michigan Animal Rescue League
Oceana County Animal Shelter
Ogemaw County Humane Society
Ontonagon County Animal Protection
Osceola County Animal Control
Otsego County Animal Control/Shelter
Bestpals Animal Rescue Center
City of Holland Department of Public Safety
Harbor Humane Society
Headin' Home Pet Rescue
Roscommon County Animal Shelter
Amazing Grace Animal Rescue
Pet Angel Adoption & Rescue Inc.
Saginaw County Animal Care Center
Sanilac County Animal Control
Sanilac County Humane Society
Eva Burrell Animal Shelter
Shiawassee County Humane Society
St. Clair
Blue Water Area Humane Society
St. Clair County Animal Control
St. Joseph
St. Joseph County Animal Control
Tuscola County Animal Control Shelter
Van Buren
Al-Van Humane Society
Van Buren County Animal Control
Ann Arbor Cat Clinic
Happy Hearts Feline (combined with Jackson numbers)
Humane Society of Huron Valley
Tiny Lions Lounge and Adoption Center
Brownstown Animal Shelter
City of Romulus Animal Shelter
City of Wayne Animal Shelter
Dearborn Animal Shelter
Detroit Animal Care and Control
Detroit Dog Rescue
Downriver Central Animal Control (see Wyandotte AC for
Flat Rock Animal Shelter
Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit
Friends of Michigan Animals Rescue
Grosse Ile Animal Shelter
Grosse Pointe Animal Adoption Society
Grosse Pointe Animal Clinic
Michigan Anti-Cruelty Society
Michigan Humane Society (Berman Center for Animal Care)
Michigan Humane Society (Detroit Center for Animal Care)
River Rouge Animal Shelter
Shelter to Home Pet Adoption Center
Taylor Animal Shelter
Woodhaven & Trenton Animal Shelter
Wyandotte Animal Adoption Center
Wexford County Animal Shelter