About Us

Our Role

puppyThe Dearborn Animal Shelter is operated as a city service under the jurisdiction of the Police Department Ordinance Division. The shelter has been operated by the Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, under contract with the city since 1996.

Our Public Relations

The Friends have deep media relationships throughout Metro Detroit. This affords us opportunities to showcase adoptable animals, provide education and animal tips, promote events, and address animal advocacy to a wide audience. Public relations efforts include a segment on WJBK Fox 2 News the second Monday of each month.  Closer to home, the Friends have regular features in print and electronic media, including a bimonthly program called Pawprints TV on City of Dearborn television.  Our own outreach tools include the Friends website, twice monthly E-news, Facebook and Twitter communities, and constant face-to-face interactivity.

Our Mission

We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The Friends are dedicated to the rescue and protection of animals in the community, while inspiring healthy relationships between people and their companion animals. As animal advocates, we are committed to:

  • Saving all adoptable animals
  • Providing high-quality animal care and adoption services
  • Delivering innovative outreach programs and activities that promote education
  • Promoting animal welfare legislation
  • Embracing environmental responsibility with earth-friendly practices and facilities

Our Accomplishments


2015 Accomplishments

 Animal Intake

  •  2,461:  921 dogs,  1,420 cats (+ 128 other species)

Adoption & Place Rates

  • For the 15th straight year, 100% of all adoptable animals were saved.
  • Overall place rate: 83%. On a national average, 64% of homeless animals are placed. (Source: ASPCA)

Shelter Visitors

  • A total of 15,158 individuals and families visited the shelter.


  • Sources of Funds: Donations  64%, Events 17%, Adoption and Shelter Fees 7%, City Subsidy 6%, Other 6%
  • Use of Funds:  Animal Care 83%, Fundraising 10%, and Administrative 7%

Supporter Demographics

  • The following came from outside of Dearborn: 57% of volunteers, 65% of donors, and 79% of adopters.


  • On our roster: 78 (active—those who donated 50 or more hours).
  • Hours donated: 17,314 hours, with an equivalent value of $399,433.
  • Student volunteers: We are one of the few organizations to accept youth under the age of 16.
  • Special programs: We are a training site for the Michael Berry Career Center, Mixter School, Services to Enhance Potential, and Jewish Vocational  Services. 

Community Services

  • Low-cost spay/neuter vouchers: 582 distributed to dog and cat owners
  • Low-cost microchip vouchers: 198 distributed to pet owners
  • Training classes: Offered throughout the year for dog, puppy, and kitten owners
  • Operation Feed Fido: Our food supplement program


  • Off-site Adoptions: Held each weekend throughout the region, with primary locations at Pet Supplies Plus, Petco, and PetSmart.
  • Fund-raising:
    • Black Tie & Tails dinner, dance, and auction
    • Mutt Strut & Pet Expo
    • Cool Cat Casino Night
    • 3rd-party sponsored events held monthly, including two premier events: Megan’s Dreams Golf Outing and Bowl-4-Animal Rescue
  • City of Dearborn: Homecoming, Memorial Day Parade & Farmers’ Market


Read further about our new name, organizational background and direction for the future.

Naming Document

Our Journey

pit crew at poolThe Friends organization was founded by inspired volunteers who recognized that homeless animals in our community deserve a chance to get adopted and a second chance at life, even if they required extra assistance along the way. Building on their strong sense of animal welfare, the Friends has grown in the past 23 years to an organization of great reputation in the animal-sheltering industry. Though small in comparison to other facilities in physical size, the Friends has a broad influence

“Rescuing over 2,400 animals annually, reaching out to the community daily with education and training, lending a hand to other animal organizations regularly, advocating for animals and improving the relationship between humans and their pets, the Friends’ continued success is attributed to the generosity of its supporters and donors. You are the lifeline of our operations, growth and ability to care for the animals that enter our shelter each year and all who are touched by them.”   – MaryAnn Wright, Chairman of the Board, Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit.

Our Future

new_shelterOur dream has always been to build a new shelter. The goal is to institute enhanced and innovative animal care, and to provide a fully integrated service to the community. Supporters like you are imperative to helping us reach this goal.

Our History

The Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit (the Friends) was formed as a private, nonprofit organization in 1993 by a small group of people who wanted to improve the conditions for the animals at the Dearborn Animal Shelter and promote their adoption into loving homes.

Prior to our involvement, the shelter was run as a “pound” and animals were sold for $5 without adoption screening. We worked closely with the mayor and the chief of police and in 1995 submitted a proposal to the city to actually run the shelter. This was approved by the city council and in July of 1996, we took over. We hired a licensed veterinary technician to manage the shelter and instituted significant policy changes.

All animals adopted from our shelter are now fully vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and are identified by a microchip. We also participate in over 100 community outreach programs including low cost spay/neuter clinics, off-site adoptions and city events. We care for 2,400+ animals a year at the shelter and are grateful for our 78 active volunteers.

Although we receive a subsidy from the city, we are dependent upon donations and fund-raisers for the majority of our operational costs.

FAMD Staff

Elaine Greene | Executive Director | egreene@metrodetroitanimals.org


Elaine Greene, Executive Director, has been with the Friends since July 1996, when Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit took over the operation of the shelter for the City of Dearborn. She worked for Michigan Humane Society for 22 years before coming to the Dearborn shelter. Elaine is also a licensed veterinary technician, which in layman terms is an animal nurse. As executive director she oversees all shelter operations and activities. Elaine, along with her husband, Michael, three dogs and the occasional foster pet, enjoy their home in Dearborn.

Heather Mehi | Shelter Manager | hmehi@metrodetroitanimals.org


Heather Mehi, Shelter Manager, started her animal career working as a grooming and veterinary assistant with an area veterinary clinic. After a few months, she realized that animals were her passion and took a job with Huron Valley Humane Society, then Michigan Humane Society. Heather came with Elaine to the Dearborn Animal Shelter in July 1996 and has been integral to the organization’s growth and success. Heather shares her home with her partner, Anna, her dogs, cats, and a parrot.

Kelle Sisung | Development Director | ksisung@metrodetroitanimals.org


Kelle Sisung, Development Director, began her career with the shelter as a volunteer in 2001. She became our Director of Volunteers and since 2005, our Development Director. The development director is responsible for overseeing the annual fund, which includes events, grants, and appeals. Kelle has a bachelor’s degree in English and social science and a Master’s in English. She also has a Certificate in Fund-raising Management from Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy, and is a member of the Association of Fund-raising Professionals. Kelle lives with her husband, Ed, two dogs, and four cats.

Katie Johnson | Volunteer Director | volunteers@metrodetroitanimals.org


Katie Johnson, Volunteer Director, joined the FAMD team in September of 2014. She has worked in the animal welfare field for several years, focusing on volunteer management and adoption programs. Katie is currently pursuing a master’s degree in humane leadership through Humane Society University. A lifelong Dearborn resident, Katie shares her home with her husband Charles, five cats, and one dog.

Linda Thomas | Trainer & Behavior Evaluator | lthomas@metrodetroitanimals.org


Linda has an associate’s of science for veterinary technology. She became a certified pet dog trainer through the Association of Pet Dog Trainers in 2003. She has written numerous papers and provided in-depth presentations for feline/canine behavior for the Southeastern Veterinary Medical Association. Linda is a lifetime member of North American Veterinary Technician Association, Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians, and Association of Pet Dog Trainers. Linda has two dogs and one cat.


Kathy Lash
HR Coordinator


Danielle Leonard
Assistant Shelter Manager


Suzanne Johnson


Andrea Kuentz
Development Coordinator

Amy Spencer

Amy Spencer
Assistant to the Development Director


Animal Evaluator


Animal Care Technician


Facilities Coordinator


Shelter Associate


Kennel Supervisor

Paris 2-13-16

Animal Placement Counselor

Maggie 10-21-15

Evaluator Assistant

Brooke 2-13-16

Animal Care Technician

Lily Burger

Animal Care Technician

Tracie Phillips

Animal Care Technician


Break Supervisor


Paper Shredder & Taste Tester, In Memory, 12/01/06 -12/08/15


Paper Pusher & Paper Clip Locater, In Memory, June 2008 - July 2013


Official Greeter


Office Security


Marlene Burgess
Ordinance Officer

Officer Cayla 2-13-16

Cayla Lockard
Ordinance Officer

Officer Betsey 2-13-16

Betsy Summerfield
Ordinance Officer

Board of Directors

  • Board Chair – MaryAnn Wright
  • President – Laurie Buhr
  • Treasurer and Financial Director – Sophie Bozek
  • Medical Director – Dr. Cheryl Good, DVM
  • Director of City Relations – Cpl. Michael Nelson
  • Secretary – Sue Ringey
  • Lisa Bahash
  • Tom Clark
  • Fred B. Johns
  • David Kocab
  • Jackie Lovejoy
  • Peter Oleksiak
  • Richard Truett

Animal FAQs

How many animals do you handle a year? How many cats/dogs?

2015: 2,469 animals. 1,420 cats and 921 dogs (with 128 other species).

How much do you charge to adopt an animal?

What does your adoption price include?

In general, the fee includes behavior testing, basic medical exam, vaccinations, sterilization and microchip identification and ID tags.  The value of an adoption package for cats is approximately $300; for dogs, $450.

Can you tell me about your adoption process?

Every prospective adopter must complete an application (available at the shelter or online), which is fully screened. Click here to go to our adoption portion of the website.

What kinds of dogs / cats do you have available for adoption?

All kinds, including purebred dogs and cats. You can visit the shelter, check out our adoptable animals for photos and descriptions of all our adoptable animals, or attend one of our many off-site adoptions. Call the shelter or check the calendar for dates, locations, and times.

Why should my pet be spayed or neutered?

  • Spaying/neutering is good for your pet, you and the community.
  • Spaying and neutering helps dogs and cats live longer, healthier lives.
  • Spaying and neutering can eliminate or reduce the incidence of a number of health problems that can be very difficult or expensive to treat.
  • Spaying eliminates the possibility of uterine or ovarian cancer and greatly reduces the incidence of breast cancer, particularly when your pet is spayed before her first estrous cycle.
  • Neutering eliminates testicular cancer and decreases the incidence of prostate disease.
  • Spaying and neutering makes pets better, more affectionate companions.

Are you a no-kill shelter?

Our goal is to save 100% of the adoptable animals in the shelter. Although we strive to place every adoptable animal, we cannot guarantee this. We are pleased to report that since 2000 we have not had to euthanize an animal because of cage space. Animals whose temperament is judged to be a safety risk or whose health condition is too serious are humanely and lovingly euthanized. Continuously increasing successful adoptions and foster care homes will assist with our ability in achieving our goal.

Do you board animals?

No, but you can check online or the yellow pages for a listing of available boarding facilities and pet sitters in the area. You also can call the shelter for this information.

Shelter FAQs

How many employees do the Friends have?

We employ 15 full -time and 12 part- time employees. Our executive director is a licensed veterinary technician with more than 40 years of experience in the animal-sheltering field.

How many volunteers do the Friends have?

We currently have 78 active volunteers. Active equals those who donate at least 50 hours per year.

Do you need more volunteers? What do volunteers do and how can I become a volunteer?

We are always looking for new volunteers to join our team. Our most immediate need is for volunteers to help us in the shelter in caring for the animals, helping potential adopters meet their new best friends and assisting with our daily operations, especially dishes and laundry duty. Any hour you can spend in the shelter makes for a more successful operation and makes a world of difference in the lives of the animals.

There are many, many volunteer opportunities outside of the shelter, including help with our off-site adoption and fundraising events, working with our technology crew for our publications and other general administrative duties. All new volunteers must attend a volunteer orientation. For those volunteers wishing to work in the shelter, we require that you attend a one-time mentoring session with a seasoned volunteer after orientation to get you started.

What percentage of the Friends expenses go to programs?

The Friends are good stewards of your donation dollars: 83% of our expenses directly support animal programs.

What percentage of the revenue does the City of Dearborn provide?

The subsidy paid to the Friends for the operation of the shelter is negotiated every year as a part of the contract renewal. Currently, this subsidy accounts for about 6% of our revenue.

What are the current problems at the existing shelter facility?

There are numerous compelling reasons to construct a new facility. The more major concerns are that the current facility is:

  • 38 years old (built in 1978) and in need of major and most probably increasingly expensive repairs
  • Insufficient to provide a positive experience for visiting members of the community (unappealing location, crowded conditions, high noise and odor levels, no get-acquainted or counseling areas)
  • Very difficult for the staff and volunteers to work in (constrained and difficult work areas and limited storage space)
  • Inadequate to provide a healthy environment for the animals (poor air exchange, poor sewage disposal, porous housing materials).

Please refer to this expanded FAMD Fast Facts 2016


The following files are available for use by Friends volunteers and other interested persons. They are for reference and distribution only. Please do not in any way alter or misrepresent any of the following.

Please note that authorized volunteers may create their own materials, but prior to any distribution, they must be approved by the Friends Public Relations Director sboulton@metrodetroitanimals.org.

Our Financial Support

The majority of FAMD funds comes from donations from organizations and individuals like you. We receive no money from any other humane organization and we are not funded by United Way. We are a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization and donations to FAMD are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.

Can’t Open PDF Files? Download Adobe Reader (click graphic below).



When using the Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit logo, please adhere to the following guidelines:

  • The logo must be used as provided. Do not alter the logo in anyway, including changes to the color or design, or removal of any words or parts of the artwork.
  • To properly stage the logo, a minimum clearance between the logo and other elements should be maintained. Allow at least 1/4 inch of white space around all sides of the logo.
  • The logo should not be used to represent the words “Friends” or “Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit” in text, including in a headline or body copy.