The fate of over 100 cats and dogs seized by Livingston County Animal Control from Last Chance Rescue in Howell Township this week will be decided after medical and temperament evaluations.
Livingston County Animal Control had been to Last Chance Rescue several times over the past few weeks after receiving complaints of unsanitary conditions and animals needing medical care; however, Mary Ann Bednar, a spokesperson for Last Chance Rescue, said the Dec. 6 seizure came as a complete surprise.
Last Chance Rescue owner Sharon Kizer is “devastated by this development,” Bednar said.
“She has been fighting for animal rights her whole life. There was no reason given for the seizure other than anonymous phone calls and that is not a valid reason. This looks like pure harassment.”
Aimee Orn, director of Livingston County Animal Control, said that while recent visits were prompted by complaints, animal control personnel saw evidence of unsanitary conditions and medical care needs. Most of the animals were voluntarily surrendered, and those that weren’t will be held at animal control facilities until the completion of the current investigation.
“We go by what conditions we see at the site,” Orn said. “This was a classic case of the rescue and associated residents being overwhelmed and unable to keep up, and the animals end up suffering because of it.”
All the animals will undergo temperament and medical evaluations before being offered for adoption. Because of the ongoing investigation, and the number of animals needing evaluation, Orn could not comment on the exact number of cats and dogs or their medical status.
Bednar confirmed that Last Chance Rescue was over its capacity, but said that was not unusual for this time of year, when many households give up animals for a variety of reasons.
Last Chance takes many animals other shelters will not, including those rescued from “kill shelters.” Several of the animals seized on Wednesday are considered “sanctuary animals,” meaning they cannot be placed in most households and live permanently at the rescue facility. The spokesperson for Last Chance said animal control officers told rescue staff that these animals would be destroyed as they cannot live anywhere else and cannot be placed.
Last Chance Rescue staff suspect they know who may be at the root of the multiple complaints; pro-bono legal counsel is assisting with the response to the results of the county investigation.
“Violations were found at the site and that is why we seized the animals, most of which were voluntarily relinquished,” Orn said. “All the animals will be evaluated for health and behavior and we hope to place as many as possible with families and other rescues.”
While not an ideal situation, the county shelter does have the capacity for such a large intake of animals and is hoping to have some animals available for adoption as soon as next week. Anyone interested in adopting can check the county animal control website at https://www.livgov.com/animalcontrol or come by the shelter at 418 S Highlander Way in Howell. Fees are $80 to adopt a cat and $140 for dogs.