When Oakland County’s new animal shelter opened in 2017, officials said it was an old concept that learned new tricks.
Calling it state of the art, they said the $15.5-million building would fix all of the old shelter’s short-comings. Former county executive L. Brooks Patterson said it would make Oakland County a leader in animal sheltering and adoption.
Yet, critics soon began finding fault with the new shelter and its adoption program. On Wednesday, a nationally prominent expert on animal shelters deflected much of the criticism after conducting a detailed assessment of the the shelter, which sits in the middle of Michigan’s most affluent county.
Veterinarian Dr. Sara Pizano gave an hour-long public presentation of her findings in Oakland County combined with her views of “best shelter practices” from nationwide studies. Pizano was hired last year by the Oakland County Board of Commissioners to assess the shelter’s performance.
“Amazing work!” Pizano said, when citing the Oakland County shelter’s 2020 statistic for the vital “save rate” — the percentage of animals brought in that are not euthanized. Oakland County “hit that magical 90%, so congratulations,” Dr. Pizano said. The national average is 79%, she said.
She also had words of praise for the county’s plan this spring to launch what the shelter industry calls a “community cat program,” sparing most wild cats from euthanasia by returning them to where they were found, after spaying or neutering them. The tactic…