New Oakland County animal shelter opens

Oakland County Animal Shelter & Pet Adoption Center held its grand opening on the county’s main government campus in Pontiac. The 35,400-square-foot facility was designed to enhance the shelter’s ability to adopt out as many dogs and cats as it can.

“By relocating from Auburn Hills to Pontiac, we expect to see more pet adoptions because the building will be easier for the public to find and more accessible because of its central location,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “The focus is on finding adoptable pets their forever homes.”

The design of the building incorporated best practices from animal shelters around the country. The building is divided into three public areas with easy-to-read signage that will boost visitors’ ability to find, interact with, and adopt dogs or cats. The central entrance and main lobby is for “Adoption.” There is another entrance marked “Lost & Found” where pet owners can reunite with their lost furry friends. Finally, there is the “Community Room” entrance where pet adoption events and community outreach programs will take place.

In addition, Oakland County Animal Shelter & Pet Adoption Center has a state-of-the-art veterinary medicine suite and kennels plus a dog park where volunteers can exercise and play with the shelter’s dogs.

“Oakland County always endeavors to bring innovation to government and deliver exceptional results. The animal shelter is no exception,” Patterson said.

The Patterson administration began to talk about the need for a new animal shelter during the Great Recession. But like everything else in those years, capital improvements were mostly on hold in order to help maintain a balanced budget. Then in May of 2013, Mark Newman joined county administration as director of public services, the department which oversees the shelter. Patterson directed Newman and Director of Facilities Management Art Holdsworth to begin visiting other reputable animal shelters to gather ideas and best practices that belong in a modern Oakland County facility.

Auger Klein Aller Architects Inc. (formerly Stephen Auger and Associates Architects, Inc.) transformed Newman and Holdsworth’s notes into a vision of contemporary design for the Oakland County Animal Shelter & Pet Adoption Center.

“This is the most rewarding day to be an architect, to have the public finally experience what has been in our design team’s minds-eye for the past several years,” Stephen Auger said.

With the support of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners, the county bonded $15.45 million for the new shelter in the fall of 2015. Both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service gave the bonds a AAA rating.

“That means the county financed the project at the lowest interest rates available on the market which saves taxpayers money,” Patterson said.

Construction firm Frank Rewold and Son Inc. broke ground at the site on July 14, 2016. Shelter staff moved into their new building on Sept. 16-19, 2017. It opened to the public Sept. 20. Frank Rewold and Son Inc. remain on site putting on the finishing touches.

“It was a fun project and getting involved early helped us deliver a great project,” said Frank Rewold, CEO of Frank Rewold and Son Inc.

Oakland County Senior Facilities Project Manager Matthew MacDougall kept the project on pace and within cost.

“They (Auger, Rewold, and MacDougall) all have demonstrated why they have exceptional reputations in the completion of our new shelter,” Patterson said.

Joining Patterson and other local officials at the grand opening event were students and staff from Bailey Lake Elementary School in Clarkston. They volunteer every year at the shelter as part of a school service project. Patterson asked attendees to applaud them for their commitment to the shelter.

Oakland County Animal Shelter & Pet Adoption Center has a presence in 53 out of the county’s 61 communities, providing full service in 45 municipalities and partial service in eight. The shelter offers housing and medical care to more than 4,000 animals annually and has the best save rate in Michigan among public open-admission shelters whose intakes are greater than 4,000 animals. A public open- admission shelter takes in every dog that comes through the front door, which stands in contrast to other shelters which regulate the number and kinds of dogs they admit.

Patterson lauded Oakland County Animal Shelter & Pet Adoption Center Manager Bob Gatt, Chief Joanie Toole, staff and volunteers for their excellence in humanely caring for animals.

“Over the past few years, tremendous progress has been made at Oakland County’s shelter implementing the industry’s best practices,” Patterson said. “Thank you for a job well done.”

Newman echoed Patterson’s comments. “Implementing industry best practices into the design and procedures of our new shelter means we will have a healthier adoptable population of dogs and cats,” he said.

The new shelter is located at 1200 N. Telegraph Road, Building 42 East, in Pontiac, next to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office headquarters. Pet adoption hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday. To contact the pet adoption center, call 248-858-1070. For more information, go to