For pet owners in Michigan, you may not be aware of a change in the enforcement of the stray hold law. The Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV) explains the issues very well here
. They urge people to contact their representative
to tell them how important having a stray hold law is, both for pets and pet owners. I adapted the HSHV explanation (below) and emailed my representative
. I urge others to do the same!
The stray hold law ensures that owners have a chance to find
their lost companion animal. Without a
stray hold law, an animal entering a shelter can be immediately adopted,
transferred to another facility/group, or put to death without giving owners
even one day to find their lost pet. And
even if owners find their lost pet in a shelter, without a stray hold law, the
shelter has no obligation to return them to their rightful owners.
Following MDARD’s announcement, Michigan now stands nearly
alone in the absence of a state mandated stray hold. I firmly believe in the importance of stray
hold times as a basic and essential protection for pets and their owners. Right now many pets and pet owners are now in
a precarious position.
HB 4915 was introduced by Representative Mike McCready to
help rectify this issue. While we
desperately need this bill, I oppose it in its current state based on two
1) Cats as
second-class pets: The bill reduces
stray hold times to “zero days” for cats that are “candidates for adoption or
sterilization programs.” Though I
strongly support a bill that promotes Trap, Neuter and Return -- where unowned
cats are sterilized and returned to their original location -- as the only
proven effective means of reducing overpopulation, the vague use of the word
“candidate” leaves the option to euthanize stray cats at intake, as sadly many
Michigan shelters would still prefer to do.
Further, I believe “adoptable” cats, like dogs, should also be held for
the minimum hold times of 4 or 7 days to give owners a chance to find them.
The hold time for both dogs and cats should be the same, and
support clear provisions for sterilization programs that return cats to their
original location. Even if a lost cat is
mistaken for an outdoor/feral cat, returning them to their original location is
more likely to help them to get back home.
One study found that cats left mainly to their own devices are 13 times
more likely to find their way back home than those that end up at a shelter.
2) Wide discretion
to euthanize before hold times have expired:
The bill also states that “(A) AN ANIMAL THAT WOULD BE SUBJECTED TO
UNDUE SUFFERING” can be immediately euthanized. The language here gives too much discretion
to shelters to define “suffering.” Many
common or treatable conditions such as fear, arthritis, blindness, contagious
disease, or old age could be used as justification to immediately put a lost
animal (dog or cat) to death, without regard to hold times.
I recommend a definition of suffering as suggested by Nathan
Winograd, Director of the No-Kill Advocacy Center. “Irremediable physical
suffering" means an animal who has a poor or grave prognosis for being
able to live without severe unremitting pain even with comprehensive, prompt,
and necessary veterinary care, as determined by a veterinarian licensed to
practice in the state.”
Respecting and promoting the loving bond between people and
their companion animals should be at the core of animal sheltering work. Basic stray hold times applied consistently
to both dogs and cats, and clear definitions around justification for
euthanasia provide important protections to both people and animals. I want to see increased adoptions and
sterilizations, and the elimination of unnecessary shelter euthanasia across
the state—not stripping families of the right to reclaim their lost animals.
Please make these changes to HB 4915 and then pass the bill
ASAP to ensure that Michigan pets and pet owners are protected. My pets (cats and dogs) are beloved members
of my family. I want to see stray hold
laws applied equally to both dogs and cats, allowance for responsible TNR, and
well-defined reasons for euthanizing an animal before their stray hold time is