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


We are excited about the prospect of taking steps closer to building a new facility for the animals and the humans who care for them. Our organization’s new name, Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit,  is a related piece of that plan, so it was introduced at the Official Key Transfer Ceremony on February 19th, a celebration of the formal passing of the key to the Amtrak station from the City to our organization.

Here is some background information about our organization and the funding activities that will help provide some perspective for continuing this conversation.

The Friends For the Dearborn Animal Shelter is a 501c3 non-profit organization that operates the Dearborn Animal Shelter under contract to the city of Dearborn.  Our role is to supplant a city-funded service, in a privatized relationship, to help provide broader care for animals than the city could provide on its own. Prior to our involvement, the city facility was a pound, holding stray animals for the state mandated (4) days and if the animals were not claimed, they were euthanized.  This was a standard city pound approach two decades ago and one that fortunately, is not our situation today.

More than 20 years ago, a team of dedicated individuals (Friends For the Dearborn Animal Shelter) worked together with the city to develop a better plan, one in which the animals could be given a real second chance, providing all levels of care, shelter, food, socialization, guidance, medical care and ultimately finding adopters to give them their new loving homes.  As you can imagine, the expense attached to this strategy vs the former pound model was exponentially greater, so much greater that the city contract represents less than 6% of our annual revenue, which today amounts to over $1 million.  This broader level of animal care is now an expectation of our community and others in metro Detroit.  It is also a more common standard of practice today, but one that many municipalities struggle to achieve without a private partner like us.

Understanding more about the funding is an important element in the larger picture. The “Friends” raise 94% of the annual revenue that the City contract does not cover.  Those dollars come through all sorts of funding efforts including; adoption fees, grants, donations, events, competitions and more. This is why fundraising is such an important activity for our organization and we rely so heavily on volunteer support, to help minimize costs and insure that we are excellent stewards of our donor dollars. Support in this fashion is the only way we can maintain this professional level of care for animals in our community.

Our relationship with the city is a very close one.  We work together on communications and all matters of animal welfare in our community.  It is a model that has other neighboring cities curious and interested in replicating. This work has become recognized today within our city limits of course, but now extends well beyond our borders.  Adopters, volunteers, donors, event attendees and well-wishers come from throughout metro Detroit.  So much so, that 65% of donors, 57% of volunteers and 79% of adopters live outside of Dearborn, in surrounding metro Detroit communities.

As a further extension of this work, Dearborn as well as other metro Detroit communities benefit from our outreach programs including; Pet Food Bank, Pet Behavior Helpline, Low cost spay/neuter, Low cost microchipping, military veteran adoption programs and more. These programs have become a critical part of the overall services we provide in addition to animal sheltering, as they play a vital role in helping to prevent homeless animal population growth and support retention of pet family members for those humans in need of financial help.  They are also important programs to uphold when applying for grant funding, consideration in national competitions and understanding how our organization’s efforts support our community and other cities in metro Detroit.

For the animals in our care and services we provide, the most important new phase of our growth is to build a New Shelter.  This goal matters on so many levels, space, ventilation, isolation capability, meet and greet areas and the list goes on.  The city had a piece of land and building adjacent to the new city center campus that would be a perfect location for our new facility, but we need to raise the balance of the funds to complete a properly-appointed structure on it. The current Amtrak station is a small portion of that plan.

This New Shelter is approximately a $5.7 million proposition (remember we also have to simultaneously continue to raise over $900,000 annually to cover daily operating costs), so this has been a long and exhausting process. Along that journey, we have learned that the wider reach of our organization has been a key selling point in consideration of funds.  It is also a more representative picture of the organization today and the lives (both human and animal) that we impact.

We are proudly based in Dearborn, and focused on providing Dearborn residents and homeless and stray animals, as an enhanced City service.  Demand for providing our outreach services here and to other communities continues to grow.

Thankfully, we are excellent stewards of our donor dollars, with .83 cents of every dollar going directly to animal care. Our supporters appreciate that strong track record.  Together, we are a vibrant part of metro Detroit and believe it is a fair description to allow that the organization name indicates that as well.  It is about humans helping companion animals with a little broader view. The new name for helping characterize that better is Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit.  The physical building itself is still subject to actual “naming” rights, something we hope to see a donor step forward and provide.

Hopefully this helps with further understanding and again, we appreciate your consideration in sharing this letter.

Elaine Greene
Executive Director
Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit
313-943-2697  ext. 3556

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.

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 | Behavior Program Manager | 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.

Amy Spencer

Amy Spencer
Development Director of Operations

Emily Kirby 7-19-16

Emily Kirby
Volunteer Coordinator


Kathy Lash
HR Coordinator


Danielle Leonard
Assistant Shelter Manager


Suzanne Johnson


Andrea Kuentz
Development Coordinator


Animal Evaluator

Alyssa 7-19-16

Office Assistant


Animal Care Technician


Facilities Coordinator


Animal Placement Counselor


Kennel Supervisor

Maggie 10-21-15

Evaluator Assistant

Brooke 2-13-16

Animal Care Technician

Tracie Phillips

Animal Care Technician

Miguel 7-19-16

Animal Care Technician

Jenna 7-19-16

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, In Memory, July 2007 - September 2016


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
  • Fred B. Johns
  • Al Kammerer
  • 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 crobar@robarpr.com.

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.

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