Animal rescue organizations are often seen as a place of hope and safety for animals who have been abandoned, neglected, or mistreated. Unfortunately, not all animal rescues live up to these expectations. Some of them have a reputation for poor animal care and welfare. This is the case with Amazing Grace Animal Rescue, a nonprofit no-kill shelter located in Kochville Township in Saginaw County.
Recently, the shelter has come under fire for the poor living conditions of its animals. Several complaints have been made about the overcrowding of cats and poor ventilation that led to oppressive odors. Additionally, cats have been seen sickly and thin, crammed into cages with no room to move. These complaints are not new and have been persistent over the years. Many of the cats were not receiving the necessary veterinary care they required, and adoptable pets were not being spayed or neutered. Furthermore, cats that were adopted were being taken home only to fall ill shortly after, leading to some of them having to be euthanized. These complaints were a cause of great concern to the Saginaw County Sheriff’s Department, which eventually resulted in a search warrant being issued for the facility.
On the day of the search warrant, sheriff's deputies found 237 cats and 16 dogs at the facility, and it was discovered that 27 severely sick cats were in need of urgent veterinary care. They were seized and taken to Animal Control. The shelter was cited for numerous public health violations, and the matter has been forwarded to the Saginaw County Prosecutor’s Office for review.
After the search warrant, two Freedom of Information Act requests were submitted to investigate the complaints further. One request was submitted to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) seeking copies of all complaints received since 2018. The other was submitted to the Saginaw County Animal Care & Control, likewise seeking complaints against Amazing Grace. The responses received indicated that many of the complaints were from concerned individuals who had adopted cats from the facility and found them to be in poor health, with some being diagnosed with upper respiratory infections, roundworms, and eye infections.
It was evident from the complaints that the veterinarian who treated cats adopted from Amazing Grace was especially frustrated with the shelter's lack of concern for animal welfare. The veterinarian stated that they had filed numerous complaints against the shelter over the last ten years. Many of the cats they treated were sick, diseased, or dying, leading to owners seeking treatment.
It was revealed that all the cats seized by authorities had upper respiratory infections, and some had ringworm, FIV, and FeLV, analogous to leukemia. One of the cats died of bacterial pneumonia suspected to have been from an untreated respiratory infection. The inspectors who conducted the annual inspection of the facility found several issues of concern that required corrective action. Of those, four were classified as critical, and two were priority issues. One of the critical issues was the accumulation of hair, debris, and rust within several dog kennels. Another critical issue was that animal sterilization contracts were not being used, despite state law requiring all dogs, cats, and ferrets six months or older that are adopted from shelters to be sterilized within 30 days.
Despite the ongoing complaints, Amazing Grace remains in operation as of April 4. A fundraising event for the shelter, which was announced before the deputies served their warrant, is scheduled for 8 p.m. on April 14 at the Court Street Theatre in Saginaw. The event is to feature a performance by local rock band Jedi Mind Trip, with tickets priced at $20 for general admission and $35 for VIP.