no longer: Ingham County shelter and animal support group at odds over
last two weekends, 20 volunteers from the Detroit-based organization
A Voice for Animals distributed more than 3,000 fliers around Ingham
County saying, Is your pet safe?
The organization was trying to raise awareness about Ingham Countys
practice of selling lost pets to dealers for use in scientific experiments.
Members called for an immediate ban of this practice.
Ingham County sold 26 dogs and 21 cats to research laboratories in 2002,
receiving $470 in payment. The shelters contracts is with R&R
Research, in Howard City.
contrast, says Roseville resident Amber Sitko, who helped distribute
the leaflets, three shelters in Detroit who process roughly 50,000 animal
per year didnt sell any pets for medical experiments. According
to the group, only eight out of 83 Michigan counties are selling live
animals to Class B dealers, who in turn sell the animals
to research facilities.
In 2001 the Ingham County Board of Commissioners voted 10-3 to continue
releasing animals to research laboratories for the purpose of medical
In mid-March, Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings fired Allie Phillips,
an assistant prosecutor, following allegations that she schemed to retrieve
a cat that had been sold by the animal shelter for research. Phillips
founded Friends of the Ingham County Animal Shelter, a nonprofit organization,
in 2000 and gives seminars on animal law. Dunnings suspended her without
pay Feb. 28, two weeks after county animal control officials accused
her and two other activists of scheming to sign a notarized statement
saying Phillips was the cats owner, and paying $295 for the animals
Dunnings said he suspended Phillips for encouraging someone to make
a false statement to county government officials. Dunnings fired her
after she refused to apologize.
Phillips attorney, Frank Reynolds, commented: The people
involved in rescuing the cat asserted a claim of right to that cat.
Theyd paid money for the veterinarian bills, theyd paid
money to advertise to save cats and they had an agreement with the shelter
that they can make a rescue before an animal was either euthanized or
sold for medical research.
Daniel Sturm/City Pulse
Fleming, director of the Ingham County Animal Shelter, says he no
longer trusts the Friends of the Ingham County Animal Shelter.
those leafletting said that Friends of the Ingham County Animal Shelter
has been banned from doing volunteer work at the shelter, and the organizations
Web Site says its privileges at the shelter have been temporarily
The shelters director, Roger Fleming, said Tuesday the organizations
members have destroyed a relationship of trust they had built with him.
We allowed them to come into the shelter to do garage and bake
sales to support pet adoptions, he said. We sold t-shirts
to help them raise funds.
Fleming said the organization was now being treated like all other volunteers.
He said the organization was no longer being given access to files and
use of the conference room, among other privileges. If they want
information, theyll now need to file a Freedom of Information
the Detroit organization called the decision to ban FICAS
a sting operation. The fliers distributed by FICAS
must have angered some commissioners, and so they decided to get rid
Sitko said the way the shelter in Mason was run made her physically
sick. She went to Mason on March 22 in order to rescue two cats
from the adoptable cat room. Bernie and Emma were in bad shape;
one was coughing up blood. Bernie weighed only three pounds, when he
should have weighed five, she said. Both cats had to be put to
At the shelter she noted a number of conditions that she believes dont
comply with basic standards for an animal shelter:
There was a lack of available disinfectant.
Some cats were kept in the same room with dogs. In general
there was not enough distance between dogs and cats.
The cats she has rescued have been in bad shape. Some have
had fleas, earmites, respiratory problems, or eyes infections. Cats
with such conditions typically need to be isolated, she said.
Cats were fed dried food but not enough canned food.
FICAS volunteers are banned, from the shelter she said,
there are not enough people taking care of the animals.
She said that animal rights activists mistrust Fleming when he states
that hell never allow an animal to go to research unless
it would otherwise be euthanized.
Fleming said that the Mason shelter, unlike the Humane Society, was
unable to pick the cats they took in but had to take all animals off
of the streets. This explains why some cats have fleas,
he said. Fleming said that there were times where we have more
cats than we can possibly house, adding that there was only one
room available in which cats could be isolated.
Fleming said the shelters reputation is improving. We work
under a tremendous amount of scrutiny, he said. When I came
to the shelter (in 1998), we were euthanizing 3,000 animals a year.
Weve reversed this number by a third since Ive been here.
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