Beyond Cats and Dogs, a Menagerie of Less Obvious Rescue Pets
(Drew Saunders, Aug. 27, 2019)
Rochester, MI – Dogs and cats are great, but sometimes families in Oakland County want a little something different as their pet. Those families are in luck because there are local adoption options.
The Michigan Humane Society has locations in Rochester, Royal Oak, Detroit and several other locations around Metro Detroit. They get rescued animals of all species – rabbits, fowl, turtles, snakes, guinea pigs and a long list of other animals – which are often adoptable.
“One of the biggest things folks often aren’t aware of is that not every vet can see or treat our unique animals. Sometimes you have to seek out a specialized veterinarian,” said Humane Society Spokesperson Anna Chrisman while giving a tour of their Rochester facility to the Oakland County Times.
There are also privately run animal rehabilitation centers around Metro Detroit. Kelley LaBounty, PhD, runs the DAWG House – Detroit Animal Welfare Group – in Macomb County, just a short drive from the Oakland County line. The 25 acre farm raises and rehabilitates everything from ducks and birds, to ponies and peacocks.
“Animals that can be adopted are domestic or farm animals,” LaBounty said.  “Domestic would be dogs and cats. Our farm animals would be horses, goats, pigs, sheep, domestic ducks, chickens, roosters, domestic geese.”
Doing your research is critical. For example, snakes usually need to feed on “live food” and guinea pigs are happiest in pairs, according to Chrisman. She added that rabbits naturally chew on things to wear down their constantly growing front teeth, so you won’t be able to have exposed wires in your house; especially since they have to explore and be out of their cage regularly to remain happy.
You can find a list of licensed animal rehabilitators at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ website. In addition to the Michigan Humane Society and DAWG, birds can be adopted at Wild Wings in Hazel Park, and animals can be adopted at Wildlife Acres Rehabilitation in Oxford.
There are some animals that you cannot have at all in Michigan however, such as the pet fox that is currently living at DAWG, or the mountain lion that found itself in Human Society’s hands.
“These are foxes that have been raised as pets, so they can’t be released to the wild,” LaBounty explained. She said DAWG has a license with the Department of Natural Resources to care for the animal.
Specialized equipment, or habitats are often also going to be necessary; and the cost of building them will have to be taken into consideration before you can adopt. The large cage that DAWG needs to care for the rescued fox for example, has to include a caged roof and it has to extend four feet underground, otherwise the fox would easily get out.
Chrisman also said that some of the animals they are given to be adopted are not permitted under Michigan state law, to adopt. This includes things like deer, certain wildfowl and sugar gliders, which are small animals that “look kind of like a squirrel, but they are pocket sized,” she said.
What you are allowed to keep as a pet will depend on the city or township that you live in. You can generally find out what is allowable where on your city’s website, or by contacting your local officials. Although Katie Haynes, Wildlife and Exotic Technician at the Michigan Humane Society says that in general, the rules will be looser on the north side of the county, because it’s more rural.
Haynes also added that it would be a good idea to ask specialized vets about the animals you are considering adopting, before going through with the adoption.
Doing a thorough amount of research is important before you adopt any kind of animal, Haynes said. “There’s a lot of good information online, [but] there’s also a lot of bad information.”
Check out the Michigan Humane Society website for more information.