Michelle Kemp, the assistant manager of the Iosco County Animal Shelter holds an award plaque from the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance recognizing the shelter as the most improved medium-sized shelter for 2018. Kemp, and the shelter’s manager, Linda Friedgen, discussed the award during an Oct. 3 meeting of the Iosco County Board of Commissioners.

TAWAS CITY – The Iosco County Animal Shelter was recently recognized as the most improved medium sized shelter for 2018 by the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance.

The award was discussed during the Oct. 3 meeting of the Iosco County Board of Commissioners by shelter Manager Linda Friedgen and Assistant manager Michelle Kemp.

According to Kemp, the award is mostly based on the amount of animals that have been euthanized at the shelter. She said the goal of the alliance is to have as few pets as possible euthanized at shelters.

“We are at a 78 percent wide release rate,” she told commissioners. “We save as many a we can. This is a huge deal, and the people in our town are very excited about it, we’re making changes, we’re making improvements and our babies are finding homes.”

Awards were also given to the most improved micro, small and large shelter, said Kemp. The award for Iosco’s shelter comes on the heels of sickness issues with cats at the shelter last year, she said.

She said many of the cats in the shelter a year ago were suffering from upper respiratory infections.

“It’s a terrible thing. A lot of cats get it, it’s from strays it’s when shelters are overfull with too many cats, if you have 20 cats in a room it’s hard to control it,” she said.

She said only a handful of the cats have it now, are kept in a separate building to avoid the spread of infection and are on the mend a year later, though the shelter is still overloaded with more than 100 cats. 

Kemp said despite the issues, many cats and dogs are adopted out of the shelter, and fewer this year have had to be euthanized.

“There are so many shelters that are so low on live release rate because all  the animals are coming in and they’re putting them down, they don’t have room, or they are sick,” she said. “But we have improved 14 percent as far as our adoption for our live release rate, overall, we’re getting them in and getting them out, a lot of that has to do with advertisement and keeping our Facebook page active.”

Kemp said for a while now volunteer Jessica Graun has been taking animal photos and updating the shelter’s page several times a week, which has increased adoption rates.

“We are so overwhelmed,” she said. “This has been one of the hardest summers and we’ve been filled to the gills,” she said. “With her coming in a couple times a week it has helped. She takes pictures, she’s answering questions for them, writing skits about them, and she’s really doing an amazing job. Since she started that a month ago, we’ve had about 5,000 hits on our page.”

Kemp said additionally, staff at the shelter have been working on remodeling projects, including painting and getting new bedding for the cat rooms.

She said the award was good because one of the main goals of the shelter is to get as many pets adopted out as possible, which means working with animals and working with people to find the right dog for cat, or the right person who will work with the animal.

Kemp said right now the shelter is offering free adoptions for cats, with the exception that they will retain a $25 deposit that will be repaid when the animal is spayed or neutered. Many of the animals up for adoption have already had these procedures, she said.

She said the shelter is also working on bringing a program into the community that would offer low-cost spaying or neutering services.

“There are a lot of people in this town who are complaining that there is no low-cost spay or neuter in this county,” she said. “We are working on possibly getting a program through Spay and Neuter Express. “We’re going to try to set it up for one or twice a month, it will be low cost and for the community.”

She said many residents in the county are on limited incomes and said the service would help save money, as well as help keep cat and dog populations down.

Commissioner Donald Jay O’Farrell said he was glad the shelter received the award.

“You’re doing a good job out there,” he said. “Keep up the good work. You guys do a lot of good work out there.”

More information about the shelter can be found by visiting their Facebook page at or by calling 362-3170.