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Animal shelter euthanizations in Michigan have fallen significantly from 2009 to 2019, the most recent year the data was available, an analysis released by the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance shows. 

Deborah Schutt, the alliance’s founder, credited “the relentless dedication of animal welfare advocates throughout the state and beyond” for saving the lives of dogs and cats that otherwise might not have made it out of shelters alive.

Numbers for 2020, which won’t be available for a few months, could be even better with some shelters and rescue agencies reporting that during the self-isolating pandemic, pet adoption have been booming.

Schutt said that 2020 also might show, however, fewer animals were picked up because rescue operations and shelters were temporarily closed and workers were furloughed during the pandemic. 

The alliance, which has tracked the data each year since 2009, said the decline in shelter kills is good news for animal lovers and a sign of progress. 

The change also is likely a result of tracking deaths and society’s shifting attitudes.

“Before we started doing that report, we had 170-some sheets of paper and no way of telling who was doing good and who was doing bad or where you ranked,” Schutt said. “Once we started doing the live-release report, advocates around the state picked that up and took it to their shelter and elected officials.”

In 2009, about half of the animals — mostly dogs and cats — in Michigan shelters were euthanized, by 2019, the percentage dropped to less than 10 as the number of euthanized animals fell from 110,833 to 11,694.

The overall number of animals in shelters also declined, from 224,531 in 2009 to 143,257 in 2019, and the number of adoptions has gone up, from 72,761 to 88,377, respectively.

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The alliance is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that promotes the adoption of stray pets in Michigan’s animal shelters. In addition to collecting data and advocacy, the group offers shelters and rescue organizations training and technical assistance.

Schutt also praised three shelters — Lake County Animal Control, Cass County Animal Control and Alcona Humane Society — for making big improvements in how many animals were put down from 2018 to 2019.

Still, she added, “We know our work is not done.”

Contact Frank Witsil: 313-222-5022 or fwitsil@freepress.com.

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