Ann Arbor, MI (December 6, 2022) — Across the state, animal shelters and rescues, including Ann Arbor’s Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV) are battling a capacity crisis of historic levels. More kittens have come in to HSHV this year than in the past 15 years, and dogs are waiting twice as long for adopters. Dogs in Grand Rapids’ Kent County Animal Shelter are waiting an average of 30 days longer for adoption. Royal Oak’s animal shelter reports having hit 200% capacity for dogs this year.

“Current economic conditions and people going back to work are likely causing the slowdown of dog adoptions,” says Tanya Hilgendorf, HSHV’s CEO. “But we also know we are competing with puppy mills that sell dogs to pet stores and online dealers, and many families are still buying purebreds and designer breeds.”

A recent panel by Michigan Pet Alliance, the statewide professional association of animal welfare organizations, highlighted another cause for this unprecedented challenge: decrease in spay/neuter.

“During the past 2 years, nearly 3 million surgeries were missed…3 million animals that never got neutered,” Dr. Julie Levy, Fran Marino Distinguished Professor of Shelter Education at the University of Florida, said in the recent panel discussion. “We can have generations of animals that have been born simply because Covid shut down, and the clinics couldn’t recover.”

“Shelters are closing to routine intake and are admitting only emergency intake. Shelters are needing to turn non-emergent cases away because they are so full. And they are fuller than they have been in years,” Dr. Levy said. “It is a complex, scary thing… it involves a shortage of veterinarians, [and] a vast decrease in the demand for pets from shelters that we’ve been starting to see for almost a year now.”

HSHV encourages people to “Adopt, not shop.”

“No matter what kind of glitter they put on the business, the fact is that animals sold in pet stores and online come from puppy mills. Good, animal-loving people simply do not know that when they acquire pets like this, they are perpetuating cruelty,” says Hilgendorf. “And, are being sold for thousands of dollars, often using predatory lending practices, I might add. But the public is often fooled by beautiful websites and misinformation that hide poor conditions and animal mistreatment.”

“We understand some folks simply have favorite breeds, but we want to encourage families to check with local shelters and rescues first. If they can’t find the breed their heart is set on, then go to a local family breeder, where the conditions, care and the parents can be seen firsthand,” says Hilgendorf. “Shipping an animal across the country may be convenient, but it is a bad way for an animal to start their lives, and those puppies are most likely coming from puppy mills in disguise.”

“And please remember: shelter animals are simply animals without homes. Research shows that shelter dogs are no different than any other dogs behaviorally.“

The Humane Society of Huron Valley is open for adoptions 7 days/ week and does not require appointments. See more information at


About The Humane Society of Huron Valley:

The Humane Society of Huron Valley, located in Ann Arbor, is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and relies solely on the generosity of our supporters to provide critical community programs and services. HSHV is an award-winning organization, recognized for our best practices and highest animal “save-rate” among all similar shelters in Michigan. Charity Navigator, the nation’s top charity evaluator, awarded HSHV a 4-star ranking, the highest possible. The mission of HSHV is to promote the loving, responsible care of all animals in our community. HSHV is not affiliated with any other humane organization and does not receive funding from the United Way. More information can be found on HSHV’s website ( and on our annual report (