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  • Writer's pictureSusan Houser

Otsego County, MI

Otsego County is located in a rural area in the northern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula, and has a population of about 23,000 people. Otsego County Animal Control is the municipal agency that provides animal control and sheltering services for Otsego County. The shelter is supported by the Friends for Life organization, which provides a range of services including Petfinder listings and foster homes. A new shelter building was completed in January 2012 after funds were approved by local taxpayers.

I called the shelter to ask about the owner surrender policy, and was told that Otsego County residents do not have to make an appointment or pay a fee to surrender an animal. The shelter appreciates people calling ahead if they wish to surrender an animal, but does not require advance notice. The shelter takes in stray cats as well as dogs. I was told that the county does not have many feral cats, but if they get a call about feral cats they offer TNR. They also sometimes relocate cats through a barn cat program.

In 1999, the county adopted a resolution supporting the concept that no adoptable companion animal should be killed. The resolution “was also founded on the belief that ONLY those animals received in a condition of terminal illness or mortal injury that are beyond clinical redemption and/or animals that are deemed aggressive and/or dangerous and cannot be successfully rehabilitated with available resources should be humanely destroyed.”

Friends For Life reports that the shelter had a “reclaiming/adoption” rate of 99.5% in 1999 and 98.75% in 2000. I was not able to find statistics for the years from 2001 to 2006, although partial statistics from 2001 and 2002 indicate the shelter had a 90% or higher live release rate in those years. The Michigan state database shows that the shelter reported live release rates as follows from 2007 through 2012:

  1. 2007 — 91%

  2. 2008 — 95%

  3. 2009 —  96%

  4. 2010 —  95%

  5. 2011 —  95%

  6. 2012 — 95%

(Note: The form that Otsego County Animal Control submitted to the state of Michigan for 2012 contains an error in that it states that 197 cats and dogs were sold for research. I spoke to a shelter official who verified that this was a mistake on the form, that no animals were sold for research, and that the 197 number was for returns-to-owner.)



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