The war on cats by so-called humane animal organizations continues.
Michigan state law regarding mandatory holding periods for impounded animals is clear:
Act 224 of 1969287.388 Disposition of dogs or cats; time; notice; record; exceptions.
A dealer, a county, city, village, or township operating a dog pound or animal shelter shall not sell or otherwise dispose of a dog or cat within 4 days after its acquisition. If the dog or cat has a collar, license, or other evidence of ownership, the operator of the pound or shelter shall notify the owner in writing and disposition of the animal shall not be made within 7 days from the date of mailing the notice. Each operator of a pound or shelter shall be required to maintain a record on each identifiable dog or cat acquired, indicating a basic description of the animal, the date it was acquired and under what circumstances. The record shall also indicate the date of notice sent to the owner of an animal and subsequent disposition.
This section does not apply to animals which are sick or injured to the extent that the holding period would cause undue suffering, or to animals whose owners request immediate disposal.
(Red font added for emphasis.)
On October 21, the long troubled Michigan Humane Society reportedly sent a mass email advising volunteers of its new policy for impounded cats lacking identification. The portion relevant to the new policy:
Currently, there is no statutory hold for cats. It has been MHS practice to hold stray cats for at least 4 days before placing them up for adoption. However, in order to save more cat lives, MHS, effective immediately, will maintain no hold time for stray cats who are immediately adoptable and do not have any form of traceable identification.
Cats with any form of traceable identification will be held for 7 days while we attempt to contact their owners.
(Red font added for emphasis.)
Despite the claim made by MHS that “there is no statutory hold for cats”, the law is clear. Every animal is entitled to at least a 4 day holding period so their owners, if they have any, can find them. MHS knows this. And they know the holding period is crucial to allowing families to find their lost pets. Snipped from the MHS webpage entitled “What to do if you find a stray animal”:
Is this animal lost or abandoned? Regardless of his appearance, start with the assumption that the animal may be a loved animal who is greatly missed by his family. Even a normally healthy, friendly animal who has become lost may take on a “homeless” appearance and frightened demeanor. The animal’s coat may become dirty and matted and he may lose weight rapidly or sustain injuries. And the absence of a collar or tag does not always mean the animal left home without one.
The best chance for an animal to be reunited with his family is if you turn him in to the appropriate holding facility.
If you have found an animal without identification and wish to keep the animal:
you must make a report to the animal control organization responsible for your geographic area and you must take appropriate steps to locate the original owner.
Regardless of whether you hope to keep the pet or not, you must take appropriate steps to locate the original owner. This will prevent “property” disputes in the future if you do decide to keep the animal, and will give the pet the best opportunity to find his original owner whether you bring him to the shelter, or keep him at your home during your search.
FILE A FOUND REPORT ASAP with the local animal control or police in the city or county where you found the dog, cat or other animal. […] You may be given the option to keep the animal during the stray hold period; this is at the discretion of the shelter.
Despite the stance MHS has adopted on its website that lost, owned pets may not be wearing identification, that keeping them for the mandatory stray hold is legally required and that searching for the owner is an absolute must, MHS seems to have zero interest in practicing what it preaches.
Last year around this time, SB560 – a bill MHS crafted – was introduced in the state Senate. The bill would have reduced the mandatory holding period for stray cats lacking identification from 4 days to 2 days, making it harder for families to reclaim their lost pets. SB560 died in committee and the law mandating the minimum 4 day holding period remains.
So after failing to get the law changed to their liking, MHS has apparently decided to claim the law does not exist. Assuming MHS has put into practice the policy change detailed in the email, it means they are putting stray “adoptable” cats who lack identification immediately up for sale. This is a clear violation of state law. Failing to obey the mandatory holding period law for stray cats means that families are needlessly and illegally being broken up by MHS.
The Michigan Political Action Committee for Animals is asking concerned citizens to contact the state Department of Agriculture:
[C]ontact the Michigan Dept. of Agriculture and file a complaint that our state’s largest and wealthiest private shelter is violating state law by ignoring mandatory stray hold times for cats, denying owners the opportunity and the right to reclaim their lost cat.
(Thanks Clarice and Anne for the heads up on this story.)