Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter

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Frequently Asked Questions


– Do you euthanize animals?

·        No-Kill shelters are classified as such because they do not euthanize simply for time or space and that they do not euthanize healthy or treatable animals. We are proud to be a no-kill shelter where the animals can stay until they find the perfect home and are never euthanized for time or space. We also work extremely hard to rehabilitate sick and behaviorally challenged animals. UPAWS has the best save rate in the state of Michigan for its size (1,000-5,000 animals/year) and an open-door admission policy with a 99% save rate in 2016! The 1% which we cannot save are those with severe terminal illnesses in which the animal is suffering or an animal with aggressive behavior that has reached a level where we cannot safely interact with the animal. These situations are very rare and euthanasia occurs only after we have exhausted EVERY possible alternative.


When families call us about surrendering their highly aggressive pets, we talk them through what we can do to help those pets and let them know what they can expect from their pet coming into our care. In all cases we medically evaluate, behaviorally evaluate, and try behavior modification training (including muzzle training for dogs) to help the pet find a new home. If the dog is truly dangerous and cannot be adopted out safely because they pose a serious threat to the public, then euthanasia does become a part of the discussion for the outcome of that animal. Sometimes the most humane option for very aggressive dogs that can not be rehabilitated is euthanasia. However, it is important to know that euthanasia is only considered as a LAST resort after all other options have been explored. If you have any additional questions or concerns about our euthanasia policy, please call our UPAWS staff at 906-475-6661.


-How many animals are at UPAWS?

  • UPAWS can house in-shelter up to 40 cats, 15 dogs, 5 rabbits and several other small animals. On average, we typically hold 40-60 cats, 10 dogs and an array of small animals. This number varies as we also have many animals in foster care, outside of the shelter, at any given time.


-Why don’t you have more dogs/puppies/kittens/etc.?

·        Having few animals in the shelter can be a great sign! It may mean we’re having an impact on pet overpopulation in our area and it can also mean our adoption rates are high, so animals are quickly finding homes! Check our website often because new animals are arriving frequently. UPAWS will also transfer animals into the facility from other shelters in an effort to offer animals of all sizes, breeds and energy levels! We first serve the animals and people in our community to ensure all pets find caring homes. As space allows, we will assist other shelters through transferring animals from their facility to ours.


– Do you receive money from the state or other organizations?

·        We are a non-profit operating on the kindness and generosity of our community. We are supported financially through donations from our supporters and grants for which we apply. We do not receive any appropriated funding from the state, any national animal welfare group, or any other organization.


– How can I volunteer?

·        Check our website for all of the information regarding volunteering! You can also fill out an application online or at the shelter.


-Where do the animals come from?

·        Animals arrive at UPAWS for a variety of reasons. Some come as stray animals, many are surrendered for financial reasons, behavior, or change in family lifestyle and others are transferred to UPAWS from another humane society.


Regarding Adoption:

– What is the breed? How big will he get? How old is he?

·        Often times we have little or no history about the animals in our care. Their breed mix is our best guess based on appearance and demeanor. We can offer an approximation on the size of an animal at maturity, but cannot make any guarantees as we do not know for certain what mix any particular animal is. Similar to breed mix, the age of our animals is also often times approximate. We make our best estimation based on the condition of their teeth with confirmation from a veterinarian when possible.


– How long should I wait to get a companion for my recently adopted pet?

·        There is no specific timeline for when to get a buddy for your pet. Our recommendation is to wait until your first adopted pet is completely settled in and comfortable in their new home. Expect an adjustment period for both animals in the home, which may last weeks, or months, but often times pets appreciate having a friend of their own species.


– Do you offer discounts for adoption fees?

·        We frequently offer discounts on pet adoptions with many promotions and through pet sponsorships where community members make donations toward their adoption. Keep an eye on our website for promotions!


UPAWS Services:

– Do you offer veterinary services?

·        We do not currently offer walk in veterinary services to the public, or after adoption. Any continued care after adoption is the responsibility of the owner. For those demonstrating financial need for assistance with spay or neuter of their animals, we accept applications for our Spay/Neuter assistance program. We do offer microchipping and nail trimming services at UPAWS.


– Can I be on a waiting list for a particular animal or breed?

·        Because we receive such a large number of similar request we are unable to keep a waiting list or personally contact you when a pet becomes available. But we do keep our website updated many times daily to ensure you are getting the information you need on what pets are available.


– I cannot keep my pet, can I bring them to UPAWS?

·        UPAWS is an open admission shelter and will accept pets regardless of the reason. We do ask that you call ahead to schedule surrendering your pet due to space limitations. The shelter is also a stressful place for all animals, so UPAWS staff may present other alternatives than bringing them to the shelter, such as virtual rehoming or fostering for adoption.


– How do I report animal abuse or neglect?

·        Please contact your local police department as your initial report of animal abuse or neglect. UPAWS does not have jurisdiction to investigate or enforce animal abuse or neglect laws.


-Are you part of the Humane Society of the United States, PETA or the ASPCA?

·        UPAWS is an independent non-profit which is not affiliated or supported by any other humane organization. We do at times apply and receive grants from other humane organizations, or join some of their national campaigns.


-Does UPAWS have employees or is it run by volunteers?

·        UPAWS has about 11 paid staff members, full-time and part-time and occasional, and about 100 active volunteers who help in-shelter and outside of shelter.


-If I donate, where does the money go?

·        All general donations collected help cover operating expenses which include all supplies needed for animal care (food, toys, bedding, veterinary, etc.), utility costs, insurance costs, employee wages, office supplies and more! Donors may also choose to contribute to one of our special programs such as the Pink Lady Fund in which donations are held specifically for emergency veterinary care. Pet Sponsorship donations reduce the adoption fee of an animal and our Spay It Forward fund helps low income families cover a portion of the cost to spay or neuter their pet. Check out our donation page.


-I would like to plan a fundraiser for UPAWS. Where do I start?

·        Thanks for supporting UPAWS! Tell us about the event by emailing Fundraising@upaws.org




















Contact Us

Phone: (906) 475-6661
Fax: (906) 475-6669
Email: info@upaws.org

Shelter Hours

Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 12pm to 4pm
Wednesday: 12pm to 4pm
Thursday: 12pm to 4pm
Friday: 11am to 4pm
Saturday: 11am to 4pm
Sunday: 11am to 4pm


815 South State Highway M553
Gwinn, MI 49841
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