FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
If you are unable to have your question answered in this section, please give us a call at 616.399.3119.
How do I get approved to adopt?
The first step is filling out an adoption survey. Our Adoption Counselors can usually get you approved the same day. If you have current animals, please bring their records or their vet information with you. If you rent, please bring your landlord’s information.
Do my current animals need to be fixed and up to date on vaccines to be approved to adopt?
Generally, yes, however there are special circumstances where these requirements can be waived. When adopting an animal, we want to ensure that your current animals and the adopted animal are set up for success. Regular veterinary care and vaccinations are critical to the health of pets.
Can I take home a pet the same day I get approved?
Usually, yes! As long as the animal has all of its vaccinations and has been evaluated by our veterinarian, they can go home with you the same day. If the animal isn’t ready to go, you can still finalize the adoption and we will schedule a time for you to pick them up.
What are your hours of operation?
- We are open for adoptions Monday-Friday from 12:30pm-7pm and Saturdays from 11am-4pm. Our intake department is open Sunday from 11am-5pm and Monday-Thursday 10:30am-5pm.
- We have staff present Sunday-Saturday from 7:30am-7:30pm. If you have lost or found an animal outside of our intake hours, we may still be able to help you. If you have an animal emergency, please contact the Ottawa County Dispatch at 1.800.249.0911
Can you call me when you get kittens or a certain dog breed in?
- Unfortunately, we do not have the capacity to keep waiting lists or notify customers when a certain breed or type of animal comes in.
- The best place to see what types of animals are available is on our website, harborhumane.org/adopt. Even though the picture may not be there, you can see name, age and breed. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call at 616-399-2119. You may also want to try looking at petfinder.com where you can search by many factors, including location and type of animal.
You have my animal who got lost! What do I do now?
- Persons claiming a stray animal must provide evidence of ownership. Ownership may be established in many ways, including a combination of:
- ID tag, rabies tags or license tags.
- Detailed description.
- Veterinary records.
- Current pictures.
- Bill of sale.
- Registration papers.
- Location where animal was found, relative to the owner’s home.
- Communicating with the veterinarian or groomer.
- Once ownership is reasonably established, pet owners will be required to pay applicable fees and comply with state mandates in order to reclaim the animal. Animals may not depart with the owner without a valid:
- Dog License. If the owner cannot produce a valid dog license, one will be issued for the animal.
- Rabies Certification. Rabies Certificate or County Rabies tag must be presented at the time an animal is reclaimed. Owners who are unable to provide proof of rabies inoculation must pay for a Rabies Certification. All animals over the age of 12 weeks are required by MDARD to be vaccinated for rabies.
- Animals are personal property and cannot be withheld from an owner without good cause during the stray period. Information on stray holds can be found at https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdard/MDARDAIDPolicyShelterHoldTimes011916_NoSigniture_512501_7.pdf
- Fees for Reclaim/Redemption Fees:
- First redemption: $50 (inform owner of escalating fees at each recovery).
- Second redemption within 1 year: $100
- Third redemption within 1 year: $200
- Redemption fees include standard vaccines (distemper/Bordetella) for which they are vaccinated for upon intake. However, fees do not include rabies vaccine, extraordinary medical attention, excessive boarding costs, and license fees. In an effort to encourage spay/neuter of returned animals, the Executive Director may approve waiver of certain redemption fees if the owner agrees to spay/neuter their animal.
- Rabies vaccine (if not proof of past rabies vaccine history): $30
- Microchip: $10
- Boarding Fee:
- First 24 hours: Free
- First 24 hours and owner not notified/found: $15 per day
- After owner notified but does not recover animal: $30 per day
What are the days/hours for your vaccine clinic? How do I qualify? What are the prices?
Visit information on our low-income vaccine clinic here!
Do you offer spay and neuter services for the public?
- We do offer a low cost spay/neuter clinic for the public. To qualify for the clinics, clients must be able to show proof of low-income status up to 200% of the federal poverty line. Examples of proof are bridge card, medicaid card, paystub, tax return, unemployment, proof of social security, etc.
- Prices are as follows: Dog Spay: $95, Dog Neuter: $80, Feline Spay: $55, Feline Neuter: $50. Additional $15 if cryptorchid and/or $10 for hernia repair.
- To schedule, please email email@example.com or call 616.399.2119×122.
I found a dog locked in a car in the heat, what should I do?
- First check to see if the engine is running and/or air conditioning running and see how the dog seems to be doing.
- If the dog looks distressed or if the situation such as high heat, windows up, etc., seems dangerous, call animal control if in Ottawa County at 800-249-0911. You can also call the local police department or sheriff’s office. Also, if at a storefront, go into store and ask for a page to be made with vehicle information.
I found/lost a dog/cat, what should I do?
- We recommend you come to HHS to fill out a lost or found animal report. This is especially important for lost animals as you are able to identify your animal better than we can. We have several great tips on our website at https://harborhumane.org/lost-pets/. There you can also find pictures of current stray animals. You can also post on our lost/found pet facebook page at Ottawa County Lost and Found Animals at https://www.facebook.com/Ottawacountylostanimals/
What can I do with my ‘aggressive’ or behaviorally challenged animal? I don’t want it to be euthanized but I cannot care for him/her.
- HHS offers behavior classes. Information can be found at https://harborhumane.org/what-we-do/programs/dog-obedience/. You can also reach out to the Animal Behavior Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or 616.399.2119×113
- If your animal is a purebred, try a breed rescue or contact the breeder where your dog was purchased. Keep in mind that rescues (purebred or mixed) may not take animals with bite history. Speak to your veterinarian for his/her opinions or an animal behavior consultant for an evaluation.
Why does the dog I’m adopting need to be spayed or neutered before going home?
- We believe in spaying and neutering for many reasons.
- First, it helps to control pet overpopulation. Part of the reason so many animals do not have homes is there is simply too many being born vs. the number of homes available.
- It is healthier for your pet. Spaying or neutering cuts down on your dog or cat getting certain types of cancer.
- HHS is required by law that any animal we adopt out is spayed or neutered.
- For more information on spaying and neutering, please visit http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/pet_overpopulation/facts/why_spay_neuter.html or https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/top-10-reasons-spay-or-neuter-your-pet
Why can’t I ever get ahold of anyone when I call?
- We receive hundreds of calls throughout the day and have limited staff available to answer them. We do check messages periodicaly during the day and will do our best to return your call within 24 hours. You can also try emailing us at email@example.com.
Why can’t I be in the room during the euthanasia?
- It is our policy to not allow pet owners into the euthanasia room during the process, for the safety of both the animal and owner. Owners are welcome to visit the animal after the process.
- If you would like to be present during euthanasia, we recommend making arrangements with your private veterinarian.
If I bring in my dog for owner requested euthanasia, will it get done right away or will he be put in a kennel?
- All owner requested euthanasia are performed right away. You do have the option of spending some time with your pet beforehand, viewing your pet after the euthanasia is completed, or taking your animal home with you to bury. Customers can also bring their pet to us, sign the paperwork, and leave.
- You can also choose to have your animal’s remains returned to you. For more information, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Why can’t you take my cats in today?
- We are a managed admission shelter. That means we manage our admission to make sure we don’t have more animals in our care than we can care for. We are legally contracted to take in every stray animal for Ottawa County. On a busy day in the summer, we can get over 30 cats in one day. Most days, we have over 100 cats and 40 dogs in our building. We want to make sure that we can give to each and every one of them the quality of care they deserve.
How do you determine if an animal is adoptable?
- Each animal admitted to HHS receives a medical exam and behavior assessment. Animals diagnosed with a terminal or debilitating disease may not become available for adoption. Animals posing high risks for biting may not be adopted. Each animal is evaluated individually, and the outcome is determined with the best interest of the animal in mind.
I have found a wild baby squirrel, bunny, bird, etc. Can I bring it to you?
- We are not allowed to take in wildlife. Please contact local wildlife rehabilitators. We would recommend Lowell Farm and Wildlife Center at 616-885-4223 or Wildlife Rehabilitators, LLC at 616-361-6109.
Where do your animals come from?
- In 2018, 52% of animals who ended up at HHS were stray, 25% were surrendered by their owners, and 23% were transferred in from other shelters.
- 56% of our stray dogs and 4% of our stray dogs were reclaimed by their owners in 2018. Animals that are not reclaimed are put up for adoption as long as they meet adoption criteria.
- Animals who came in as owner surrenders are typically victims of circumstance. The most common reason we see for surrendering animals is the owner is moving, someone in the family has allergies, or there is a medical or behavioral problem that the owner is not equipped to deal with.
- We also transfer in animals from shelters who are overcrowded. These are both shelters in Michigan and shelters in states such as Tennessee and Louisiana that do not have as progressive animal welfare programs as we do in the Midwest. This means that many thousands of animals in the southern states are euthanized simply because there is no room at the shelter for them and the supply is far greater than the demand for adoptable animals.
We are proud that our capacity allows us to save the lives of other animals- no matter where they were born- who would otherwise be euthanized at other shelters with fewer resources.
How do you determine your adoption fees?
- Adoption fees for kittens, up to 4 months, is $90. Adult Cats, ages 5 months-6 years are $25. Senior cats, ages 7 and up are fee waived but a donation is appreciated. Cats are always two for one!
- Adoption fees for puppies, up to four months, is $300. The adoption fee also includes a puppy obedience class. Adolescent/adult dogs, 5 months to 6 years are $175. Senior dogs, ages 7 and up are $75.
- All the cats and dogs up for adoption are provided with many services: spay/neuter surgery, microchip, initial vaccinations, heartworm testing for dogs, FeLV/FIV/HW test for cats over six months, external and internal parasite prevention, and a behavior and medical assessment.
- Many of the animals in our care need additional medical or behavioral support for various conditions. Our adoption fees do not even begin to cover our animal care costs, or our other programming. Donations from generous individuals, businesses and foundations support the majority of our work.
I would like to volunteer and was told there is a wait to sign up. Why is that?
- We have many amazing volunteers who put in hundreds of hours every week. We want to be able to make sure that each and every volunteer gets the quality training they deserve and that their time with us is well-spent. We schedule orientations approximately every 6-8 weeks and do limit the number of volunteers we take at each orientation to ensure that their training and time donated is not wasted. For information on volunteering, please visit harborhumane.org/volunteer or email our Program Manager at email@example.com.
How do I report cases of cruelty and neglect?
- If you live in Ottawa County, please contact the Ottawa County Dispatch Nonemergency line at 800.249.0911
- If you live outside of Ottawa County, please contact your local animal control or sheriff’s office.
- We do not have the authority to investigate cases but instead work the animal control officers of Ottawa County.
I have a community service project due for my school; can I fulfill my requirement with you?
- We are not able to host short term volunteers. We do suggest getting involved by completing an outside project such as a donation drive for the shelter to earn your hours and help the animals! For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why do you always ask for donations? Don’t you get tax money to take care of the animals?
- Harbor Humane Society holds the county contract for Ottawa County. This means we accept all animal strays, law enforcement holds, and bite holds in Ottawa County. We are paid by Ottawa County per stray animal we take. However, 52% of the animals we take in are strays and our county contract is only 18% of our annual revenue. The majority of our budget is directed towards our program services and in order to offer these animals the top notch service and care they deserve, we rely on the support of people, businesses, sponsorships, gifts, grants, and the community to operate our facility and programs at the highest standard. Without public support, we would no longer be able to provide the gold standard of care we provide to our shelter animals.
How do I change my address or remove my name from your mailing list?
- Please contact our development staff at email@example.com or 616.399.2119×111.
Is Harbor Humane Society part of national organizations such as Humane Society of the United States, PETA, or ASPCA?
- Harbor Humane Society is not an affiliate or chapter of any national organization. We are a local, independent shelter.
Can you hold an animal for me?
All of our adoptions are first come, first serve. We cannot hold animals. Our goal is to have an animal’s stay with us as short (and as comfortable) as possible, before we can find their forever home.
Do my current animals need to meet the adopted animal before finalizing the adoption?
Generally, no. Occasionally, we will require one of our dogs to meet dogs currently in the home to ensure that they will be a good fit for your home.
How long is my adoption survey good for?
All adoption surveys stay on file for 6 months. After that, a new survey will need to be filled out in order to adopt.
Can I adopt a cat to live outside?
We make every effort to adopt cats that are eligible for home placement into an indoor only setting. While there are certainly exceptions to this rule (cats that mentally deteriorate from being indoor only, cats with a history of being indoor/outdoor, cats that have indoor litterbox issues, etc.), cats that stay indoors are not exposed to the dangers of outdoor life such as disease, parasites, animal cruelty, cars, toxins, and poisons. As a result of this policy, cats in our regular adoption program will not be adopted out into a home where they will be indoor/outdoor. If you are looking for an outdoor cat, take a look at our working cat program!
Can I adopt a dog to live outside?
Similar to cats, we make every effort to adopt out dogs that are best suited for indoor living, as inside dogs. Outdoor dogs have an increased risk for developing behavioral problems and often miss out on necessary socialization.
Can I declaw my adopted cat?
Harbor Humane Society is strongly opposed to declawing cats. We recognize that scratching is a natural behavior of cats, and that cats may be defenseless without the use of their claws if they, intentionally or unintentionally, go outdoors. Because of postoperative discomfort, pain, and potential behavioral or physical side effects, the only circumstances in which the procedure should be considered are those in which all behavioral and environmental alternatives have been fully explored, have proven to be ineffective, and the cat is at grave risk of euthanasia. HHS finds it unacceptable to declaw a cat when it is over six months or over 10lbs in any circumstance.
If I have adopted an animal and it is just not working, what is the return policy?
Please call us first! We have staff members on site that can help with behavioral concerns and answer medical questions. However, if you need to bring the animal back to us, please call us first at 616-399-2119 ext. 119.
The following return policies apply to my adoption. If returned:
- Within two (2) weeks, for any reason, I may make an exchange for another animal less licensing fees (limit of one).
- Within four (4) weeks, for any reason, I may make an exchange for another animal (one exchange limit). If exchanged I will pay for a new license.
- Within four (4) weeks for behavioral or health reasons not previously discussed, I may receive a refund.
- Health and behavioral reasons may not include conditions the animal had and I knowingly accepted at the time of adoption. If returned for health reasons, the condition must be documented by a veterinarian.
- Beyond 4 weeks but within 6 months, for any reason, the surrender fee will be waived.