Animal shelters

Liana Aghajanian / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Watered-down legislation aimed at protecting animals from abuse was signed into law yesterday by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley. 

Under the new law, animal shelters are allowed to perform criminal background checks on people who want to adopt pets. And the shelters can choose to deny an animal to people who have been convicted of animal abuse in the past five years.

It's not clear there's anything preventing shelters from taking those actions already.

Earlier versions of the bills would have required the background check and prohibited the adoption.

Baby squirrels.
Association to Rescue Kritters

If you can't figure out what to do with the hoards of acorns Mother Nature is piling up on your lawn right now, here's an idea. 

Donate them.

The Association to Rescue Kritters (ARK) in St. Helen has taken in 18 orphaned baby squirrels who won't be able to get through the winter on their own.

Robbie Wroblewski / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The debate over county animal shelters using gas chambers to euthanize sick or unwanted animals is heating up in southwest Michigan.

In the beginning of 2015, only 4 of Michigan’s 83 counties still used the “inhalation method,” or “gas chamber” to kill unwanted animals at county animal control facilities.

Cass County, southwest of Kalamazoo, still uses a chamber. Branch County, south of Battle Creek, probably still would too, but its animal shelter burned down earlier this year.

Miranda Bono is on track to open the very first "cat cafe" in Michigan.

"A cat cafe is basically a coffee shop and a cat rescue center in one place," says Bono.

Cat cafes originated in Asia and traveled to the United States, with the first opening in California last fall.

Liana Aghajanian / Flickr Creative Commons

A package of  four bills  is moving through the Michigan Legislature to require animal control and animal protection shelters to run criminal background checks on people wanting to adopt pets.

Under the bills, shelters could not allow a person convicted of  an animal abuse offense in the past five years to adopt a pet.  They could still deny adoption to someone convicted  more than five years ago.