A dog is known as man’s best friend. However, in the Lansing area over the past decade, man’s best friend has seen some rough times.
Dogfighting, abuse and neglect are problems that many dogs endure in the Lansing metro area. Ingham Animal Control takes in or picks up thousands of pets every year.
“We take in dogs, bunnies, cats, farm animals that have been in bad situations,” explained animal control worker Trisha Struck. “We take as many as we can.”
While there are no official numbers on the amount of abused dogs that enter the shelter every year, the Ingham County shelter accept all animals without other options. Although it is not a no-kill shelter, finding suitable homes for the animals is the primary goal
“Last year we had no euthanizations of any adoptable dog,” said Struck.
An ‘adoptable’ dog is one that healthy and does not show signs of being “overly aggressive.” Dogfighting in the animal’s past is often a dog who looks to have a troubled future.
Dogfighting is illegal in the state of Michigan. According to the law 750, section 49 of the Michigan Penal Code, a person “shall not knowingly own, possess, use, buy, sell, offer to buy or sell, import, or export an animal for fighting or baiting, or as a target to be shot at as a test of skill in marksmanship.”
Breaking the law is now a felony, and, if convicted, a person can spend up to four years in prison. If the animal is trained by this person to attack a human, and “thereby causes the death of that person, the owner is guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment for life or by imprisonment for a maximum term of any term of years greater than 15 years.”
Although the general public may not realize it, dogfighting and animal cruelty are still huge problems in the Lansing area. In 2013 two men were charged with the stabbing, killing and hanging of a pit bull from a tree in the northwest corner of Lansing. Their trial is currently ongoing, and the men could face up to four years in prison if convicted.
“There didn’t used to be a trial, because they couldn’t find which men killed the dog,” Ingham Animal Control worker Catelyn Evans said. “It took them almost a year to find them. We had to make posters to tell people to turn these guys in.
In another grisly case, MSU student Andrew Thompson was arrested in 2010 for killing 12 greyhound puppies. Thompson had the animals shipped from Italy, took them home and then beat and killed them. He pleaded guilty, but was not given any jail time.
Animal neglect is not something that can go away overnight. However, the people at the animal control work every day to make the situation better. People can donate pet food that the shelter then makes available to families in need.
People who cannot afford to take care of their animals are urged to bring them to the shelter rather than abandon them so that they can be re-homed.
Volunteer Cathy Baker said they have adoption events most weekends. “Petco and Petsmart often carry our events,” said volunteer Cathy Baker. “We use our mobile adoption van to move the animals to places we know people will be.”
“Usually we have 15-20 different animals. We have dogs, cats and even bunnies. All that need a good home,” said Baker.
Even if the animals do not get adopted on the day of the event, they still sometimes find a loving home.
“I took Amia home with me. We still try to find her a new place to live, but for now she’s made her stay in my house,” said Baker.
The Ingham County’s website offers a detailed list of adoption opportunities.
“If we can find a new home for even one dog, we’ve done our job,” said Struck with a smile.