Dearborn shelter sets record amount of adoptions in 2018

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
Robin Ross Case, Dearborn Heights, cradles a three-year-old dilute calico cat named “Suki,” which she adopted for her mom.“We don’t buy cats, we only save,” said Case who has rescued other cats.

Dearborn — Bubly the cat likely doesn't know how he helped the Dearborn animal shelter nail a record for adoptions in 2018.

He was one of 1,977 animals at the Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit that found homes last year, helping 2018 outpace 2017's record of 1,943, says executive director Elaine Greene.

The milestone came during a busy 25th anniversary year, when the shelter opened the MaryAnn Wright Animal Adoption & Education Center in September

During 2018, 614 were dogs and puppies, and 1,363 were cats and kittens were adopted from the shelter. They also saw rate of 89 percent for animals leaving the shelter, said Greene. 

"2018 was an amazing year," Greene said. "The new MaryAnn Wright Animal Adoption & Education Center is the culmination of more than 10 years of fundraising and is so beautiful. I give a lot of credit to all the staff and volunteers for their hard work and devotion to animals every day."

Bubly was the center's last adoption, on New Year’s Eve, in 2018. He is shy, but Kyle Polidori spent all day making him comfortable with the idea of going with him to his Dearborn home, the shelter said. 

Mr. Fuzzy Britches, another cat, soon followed and became the first adoption of 2019, the shelter said. He went home with Mary Ann Lawler and her daughter, Laura Manrique, a center youth volunteer.   

Elaine Greene stands outside new MaryAnn Wright Animal Adoption & Education Center, which is celebrating its grand opening this week, in Dearborn, Michigan on September 22, 2018.

Greene says the new facility helped spur an increase in adoptions. Plans are underway, she says, for phase two of a project to house animal services and bring the two facilities together at the Reckinger campus. 

"The new center is fabulous, and we are working hard to raise the funds to build phase two so all of our operations will be under one roof," she said.

Land for the center, at 16121 Reckinger Road, was donated by the city of Dearborn. The community raised $5.1 million. MaryAnn Wright, an automotive executive at Ford Motor Co., donated $1 million. The expansion for phase two is expected to cost $3.5 million. 

Shelter officials said Wright's passion is animal welfare and advocacy. Her name will go on the facade of the new animal adoption and education center.

The 10,000-square-foot center has large cages, meet-and-greet rooms, two kitchens, laundry rooms, outdoor play areas and three sections of dog kennels. 

Greene said finding adopters continues to be their biggest struggle, but unlike previous years, older dogs have become a popular choice. 

"I think it is much more common for older dogs to be adopted now," she said. "It is a popular choice to adopt over buying a dog, so shelter dogs have more opportunities to find homes. This is not to say that we have conquered the problem with too many homeless animals. 

"We usually have success in adoption (with) older small dogs," she added. "Some adopters gravitate to older animals, especially if they are older and feel they want a more mature, less active companion."

She recalled a dog named Taffy, who had bad knees, limiting her ability to walk,  and other health issues. Taffy was one of their most heartwarming stories of December, she said.

Taffy, an older dog with two bad knees, found a new family in December to care for her.

"The staff and volunteers fell in love with her sweet disposition and love of life, and with help from our partner veterinarians, found she could be kept comfortable and walk on medication," Greene said. "She was a larger dog, so not an easy placement, especially with her issues. We took to social media seeking a hospice placement for her, and in a day or so, we had the interest of a few adopters. Taffy found a new family that will care for her for the time she has left."

Like most shelters, the Dearborn shelter runs at capacity during the winter and adoptions become even more important to make room for more homeless animals.
Twitter: @SarahRahal_