The Devoted Friends Animal Society, Inc. was granted a temporary stay to keep its dogs while they are moving forward into the appeals court.
Rose Township claims in a lawsuit that Melissa Borden, owner of Devoted Barn at 1301 W. Rose Center Rd. in Rose Township, did not apply for a special use permit for a dog kennel and was running an unlawful and unpermitted dog kennel. Rose Township became aware of the animals because of a complaint made by a neighbor, who has since moved.
According to a Wednesday, Feb. 24 court order by Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Leo Bowman, Borden had 14 days (March 10) to propose a plan to remove and relocate dozens of dogs from her property in 60 days (April 25). On Feb. 10, the court determined the organization had violated a previous court order to remove 21 dogs from the property.
Judge Bowman retired and has been replaced by Judge Edward Sosnick.
According to court documents dated May 26, the defendant’s motion was granted as follows:
• All dogs capable of being placed in foster care shall be placed there immediately;
• All dogs not capable of being placed in foster care shall be removed from the property, with half being removed within 60 days of the date of this order (May 26) and the remaining half being removed no later than 150 days of the date of this order;
• Defendants shall provide the Township with an affidavit identifying those dogs subject to this order; and
• The Township is permitted entry onto the property to verify compliance with this Order.
Joe Durocher, property manager and volunteer at Devoted Barn, said they currently have submitted the required application to Rose Township seeking amendment of the special land-use permit to include the dogs. “However, the township is resisting processing with no technical merit,” he said. “We will need to follow up with the board and the planning commission as the supervisor will not speak with us.”
Durocher said they are thankful that the motion went in their favor. “We are still searching for a new temporary facility and are fundraising to build a new facility,” he said. He credits a previous Times article for receiving a substantial donation from
a local foundation that wishes to remain anonymous. Donations can be made through their website, Facebook page, and PayPal. Durocher added that the residents who bought the home of the person who complained are now volunteers at the Devoted Barn.
Since they have been unable to rescue dogs, Devoted Barn has been rescuing more horses. What they currently have includes two mamas with babies and two pregnant mamas, one of which is at Saginaw Valley veterinary clinic awaiting delivery. The Devoted Barn also is raising money for this horse as it could have complications with delivery due to the horse’s lack of muscle tone from the rough environment it was rescued from.
They rescued two horses from the same location that have roughly the same due date it says within the month. “One of the mamas and babies were pulled from a kill pen where the mom gave birth after being at the kill pen for a week,” Durocher said. He added that the other horse was pulled from a kill pen while pregnant and has since successfully given birth at the Devoted Barn. Several horses have been adopted out and there are several up for adoption.
Citing an article in The Guardian, “World’s donkeys being ‘decimated’ by demand for Chinese medicine” and an article in The Conversation, “Why Kenya has banned the commercial slaughter of donkeys,” Durocher said Devoted Barn has turned its focus to rescuing as many horses and donkeys as possible. “That is all we can really do while this frivolous lawsuit continues,” he said. “I will add that the board has the power to drop the lawsuit at any time and work with us on a resolution.”
Durocher said the rising cost of meat is driving more and more horses into kill pens where they are then shipped to other countries like Mexico, Canada, and China where they are slaughtered and eaten.
Local resident and business owner Casey Gilbert said his family tried to adopt through a rescue for the price of $400 for a donkey, however, the deal never went through.
“For spotted female donkeys, they wanted $2,000 to $2,500 a donkey,” Gilbert said. He said they had lost one of their donkeys in a tragic accident and their kids were devastated. They didn’t imagine that replacing them was going to be such a task.
The Devoted Barn currently has zero donkeys up for adoption.
Devoted Friends is the exclusive service provider to Oakland County Animal Control for livestock seized or surrendered. They also care for dogs and that they serve as the service provider to Oakland County law enforcement agencies.
As of April 30, Rose Township has paid township attorney John Mulvihill $32,854 for the lawsuit against Devoted Barn, according to Clerk Debbie Miller.
Borden said Devoted Barn has spent $34,280 on this lawsuit, as of Wednesday, June 2.
Rose Township Supervisor Dianne Scheib-Snider did not respond to a request for comment by press time.