Going Home

Going Home FAQ
Our number one goal is that every adoptable animal finds a loving home

Every year, 30,000 animals come to the Michigan Humane Society. Our number one goal is that every adoptable animal finds a loving home. In January, we’re launching a new campaign called GOING HOME. This expands our current life-saving programs and partnerships to find more good homes and keep animals in their homes through challenging times, plus we’re launching two major initiatives:

A new animal intake process designed to help MHS save more lives.

Future construction of a new MHS Detroit Center for Animal Care, allowing us to serve our community even better.


  1. When will you make this change?
    MHS will transition to our new enhanced open admissions process on Jan. 21, 2013. We will begin taking appointments on Jan. 2.
  2. Why are you making this change?
    Prior to this change, when pet owners surrendered their animals, they were quickly removed from the process. By scheduling an appointment and allowing owners to be present at the time of the animal’s evaluation, it means that they can take a more active role in their pet’s future. Because they know their pet better than anyone, they can help us ensure the best possible outcome for their pet by giving us as much information as possible. This will help us more quickly find a home for that animal and help save lives.
  3. What was wrong with the old procedure?
    Simply put, it was overwhelming our limited resources. Michigan Humane Society takes in approximately 30,000 animals every year with no control over the number of animals who would come into our care. As an open-admissions shelter that is committed to taking in any and all pets who need us, we would often see a flood of animals come through our door, putting incredible strain on our staff and shelter. And sadly, when shelters are jam-packed, it takes longer to get them out into their loving homes. That leads to increased stress on the animal and more sick animals waiting around for their forever home. With this change, we will have a warm bed ready for pets as soon as they arrive. We can immediately place up for adoption animals who are ready to go home, instead of waiting for evaluator to take a look at them. And we can better respond to the needs of pet owners during a very difficult time.
  4. How will this change benefit pet owners?
    Our responsibility for adopting out safe animals is something we take very seriously. If, after our thorough evaluation with our professional team, we believe that the animal cannot be safely placed into a new home that will not be familiar with the animal, we will not place the animal up for adoption. Before, this meant that the one option for the animal would have been euthanasia. Now, with our new program, we will also give you the option to take your pet back, either to find alternate rehoming options with a qualified caregiver, or to keep the pet in your home.  
  5. Will you still accept any animal I need to surrender?
    Yes! We will never turn our back on an animal in need, or put a suffering animal on a waiting list. Michigan Humane Society understands the key role we play in the community, and we will not back away from that responsibility. This change in procedure will allow us to do more for both the pets and pet owners who come to us.
  6. How does the intake process work?
    Any pet owner who needs to surrender an animal must call to schedule an appointment at any Michigan Humane Society location. During the call, we’ll discuss with you what to expect during the appointment and answer any questions you might have.  We will also ask you to bring identification to the appointment so as to properly verify ownership of the animal and to help us maintain accurate records. When you’re at your appointment, we will sit down with you and learn about your pet. Following this discussion, your pet will be evaluated by a trained MHS evaluator for health and temperament, the results of which we will discuss with you after the evaluation is completed. At this point, we will tell you whether or not your pet would be a good candidate for adoption.   If so, the animal will be placed up for adoption immediately. If not, we will discuss other options, which can include finding an alternate home for the animal, sharing information that can help resolve any problem issues the pet has, or in some cases, humane euthanasia.  
  7. Why can’t I be in the room for the evaluation?
    I know the pet better than anyone! We know, and we agree – that’s why we want to sit down with you and talk about your furry friend. However, when an owner is present during the evaluation itself, it becomes a distraction to the animal and can hamper our ability to properly evaluate your pet. In order to get our best, most objective results, we ask that you wait in the lobby during the evaluation.  Our assessment will be based on both what we see during the evaluation, as well as the information and history the pet owner provides.
  8. How could my pet have failed the evaluation?
    There are a number of reasons why we may consider a pet not to be a suitable adoption candidate at the Michigan Humane Society, from a health condition that will present the animal with a poor quality of life, to a temperament issue that could potentially be dangerous to others. Michigan Humane Society will not, under any circumstances, adopt out an animal that we believe to present a danger to others. For a listing of what might cause an animal to fail an evaluation, check out our Asilomar Map, which details a number of issues that are commonly present in pets.
  9. You need to do the evaluation again!
    We need to base our decision on the information presented to us during the initial evaluation. One of the purposes of the evaluation is for us to learn how animals handle new and novel situations. If the animal is unable to cope with new experiences, he/she is probably not a good candidate for rehoming – as it creates a high amount of stress that particular animal can handle. Which is why, in some rare instances, an animal who has not shown aggression in your home may show aggression during the evaluation.  When that happens, the owners are given the opportunity to take the animal home and work to rehome him/her on their own to provide a less stressful transition. We will not place any animal up for adoption that we believe to present a danger to others. 
  10. Why isn’t a Veterinarian doing the health evaluation?
    Our trained evaluation technicians are trained to perform basic physical evaluations and work very closely with our veterinarians. If am evaluation tech should come across any condition or illness they are unfamiliar with or have a concern about, or need assistance diagnosing symptoms, they will consult with one of our staff veterinarians.
  11. What happens if you’re not initially sure whether an animal can be placed for adoption?
    At that point, we will take the animal into our facility to conduct a more thorough evaluation of the pet. Upon reaching a determination, we will contact you with the results and the option to take the pet back, if the pet cannot be placed for adoption
  12. What if I want to reclaim the animal, but I cannot do so within 24 hours following the evaluation? 
    Unfortunately, you would not be eligible for this option. If you are going to choose to surrender your animal and are interested in this option, please have availability in the days following to reclaim the animal if needed. 
  13. Why can’t I be present for euthanasia?
    With the number of animals in our care each day, we unfortunately cannot facilitate owner-attended euthanasia. Our service is meant to be an alternative to those who can’t afford euthanasia services, which is offered by many local veterinarians. However, each MHS veterinary clinic can provide owner-attended euthanasia if requested on an appointment-only basis.
  14. What if it is difficult to find time to make an appointment?
    While we will make every effort to be as accommodating to your schedule as possible, we ask that pet owners be flexible as well. Often, if a pet owner can be flexible regarding which MHS location to visit, chances are good we can work to find something suitable. If we cannot accommodate your needs, we can certainly discuss with you other options for your pet. Of course, those in an emergency situation is not expected to make an appointment. 
  15. What if I miss my appointment or need to reschedule?
    If you are unable to make your appointment, please call us at least 24 hours in advance and we can reschedule. However, another appointment may not be available right away.
  16. I cannot afford the surrender fee. Can I still surrender my animal?
    Michigan Humane Society will never turn its back on an animal in need. However, on average, it costs $156 to care for just one animal here at MHS. We ask for this modest $28 fee to help cover some the costs of vaccinations, medical treatment, rehabilitative services, spay/neuter surgery, housing and much more. MHS is an independent nonprofit organization that is not affiliated with any national humane organization and receives no taxpayer dollars whatsoever. We are here simply because of the generosity of people like you. 
  17. I need to get rid of my animal now – I can’t wait for an appointment!
    We take appointments on a first-come, first-serve basis. If your situation is dire (for example, the animal is suffering or poses a threat to people), please contact us and we will make appropriate accommodations.  Please also note that simply abandoning an animal is a crime that you can be prosecuted for. There are much better options, and we encourage you to contact us to learn more about what they are. 
  18. Won’t this just lead to a big increase in abandoned animals?
    These enhancements to our open admissions policy have been designed with this concern in mind. First, it’s important to note that this policy applies only to owned animals – not strays. The Michigan Humane Society accepts all animals brought to us, stray or owned. Good Samaritans who find a stray and bring the animal to us should have no worries – we will never turn away an animal in need. Second, we will have a limited number of appointments available every day for walk-in clients – those who make appointments by phone will have first priority. We can also assist you in scheduling an appointment time at a later date. Third, in researching similar policy changes at other humane organizations, we found that abandonments only increased by a very small amount in those communities.  Finally, MHS will continue to have an open door policy, accepting any animal brought to us, whether that animal comes in with an appointment or if they are left outside our door, as sometimes happens at any shelter. However, abandoning an animal is a crime that can be punishable by jail time and heavy fines. If you are considering abandoning an animal, please contact us first so that we can discuss better, safer, more humane options.
  19. I have a stray animal that I cannot wait for an appointment for. Can I surrender the animal? 
    Yes. Michigan Humane Society will never turn its back on an animal in need. However, we do encourage those who find strays to bring the animal to their local animal control or humane organization before bringing the pet to MHS. If the pet is lost, it is much more likely that pet’s owner is looking for them locally, rather than driving 15-20 miles to MHS. When in doubt, think of it like this – where would *you* look for your missing pet?









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The Michigan Humane Society is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions to The Michigan Humane Society are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. MHS's tax identification number is 38-1358206. Somebody Here Needs You.

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