DETROIT (CBS Detroit) – Calling it “one of the most significant steps in its history to create a stronger, healthier pet community,” the Michigan Humane Society announced Monday they’ll soon become an “appointment-only” enterprise.

Beginning in January, anyone who wants to surrender their pet has to appear in person and explain their decision.

Appointments can be made over the by phone, MHS says. And once the owner is there, a staffer will discuss why the pet is being surrendered and outline other options.

But don’t think you’ll get away immediately — The owner’s input will extend to a preliminary health and temperament evaluation of the animal to determine its suitability for adoption, the results of which will be shared with the owner during the appointment.

Why the change? MHS says it will prevent animals from waiting in the shelter for a health and temperament evaluation and allow healthy animals to be placed for adoption immediately. It also benefits pet owners who are surrendering an animal but are concerned that an animal may be humanely euthanized.

“If it is determined that the surrendered animal is not a suitable candidate for adoption, either at time of appointment or at a later time, MHS will contact the pet owner at their discretion and give them the option to take the animal back into their home,” a spokesman said.

But, MHS stressed, it will “never turn its back on an animal in need; nor will the organization place an animal it believes to be unsafe.”

“We take in around 30,000 animals every single year, and our goal at Michigan Humane Society is to give each of the animals the best possible chance to find a responsible, loving new home,” Humane Society CEO Cal Morgan said. “Providing an extended one-on- one discussion with the pet owners inclusive of a review of the animal’s medical and temperament evaluation will help ensure that we’re serving these animals as best we can, and providing the very best care for each individual companion.”

MHS has looked into this change for some time now, and drew upon the lessons learned by Animal Humane Society (AHS), a similarly-sized humane organization based in the Minneapolis area that transitioned to this model in 2011. As a result of this change, the organization not only saw a large decline in the number of animals who were humanely euthanized, it also saw a marked reduction in the number of sick animals going through the facility.

The new enhanced open admissions policy is part of a larger campaign called Going Home, which is focused on bringing the community “back into balance and saving more animal lives,” MHS said.

The Going Home campaign also includes the Detroit Project – the creation of a new MHS Detroit Center for Animal Care, and enhancing MHS’ existing programs and services that touch the lives of 100,000 animals each year.

The goal is: “More homeless pets will be Going Home; keeping families together so that more animals are Staying Home; and strengthening community partnerships with the goal of Building Homesthat work together to support pets in need,” MHS said.

Information about the new Enhanced Open Admissions policy, including a list of frequently asked questions, will be available online at For more information, call 1-866-MHUMANE (648-6263), Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.



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