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Humane Society of Huron Valley investigator named ‘local hero’ by Humane Society of the United States

Melinda Szabelski given honor for work against puppy mills

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV) cruelty and rescue supervisor Melinda Szabelski has been named a “local hero” for her work fighting for animals.

Szabelski is one of 14 people in the United States to receive the annual award, which is given by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Stop Puppy Mills Campaign.

“Hundreds of animals are living better lives now because of the response of Melinda and her colleagues. Whether they are testifying to help pass new laws, organizing peaceful demonstrations, helping convert businesses over to a rescue-friendly model, or animal control officers who have helped shut down puppy mills, these heroes are making a tremendous difference for dogs in so many ways,” stated the HSUS in a social media post.

Melinda is the Cruelty and Rescue Supervisor at the Humane Society of Huron Valley in Ann Arbor, MI and has been working...

Posted by The Humane Society of the United States - Puppy Mills Campaign on Friday, February 12, 2021

In 2020, Szabelski was the lead investigator during a raid of Ypsilanti Township pet store, Pet City Pets. About 300 animals were seized during the raid including seven puppies, over 40 reptiles, and dozens of small mammals. Some of the animals were found dead or dying when they were taken from the pet store, according to the HSHV.

She also worked towards having felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty charges leveled against the pet store owner and her work revealed the conditions found in some retail stores selling live animals.

Szabelski has worked in investigations and animal control for over 12 years, according to the HSHV.

“We are so proud of Melinda and the work the rest of our staff and volunteers did to protect and care for the badly neglected animals from Pet City Pets,” said Tanya Hilgendorf, CEO and President of HSHV in a release.

“There are still 10,000 puppy mills operating in the United States. Nearly all dogs sold by pet stores and online dealers come from these cruel situations. We are grateful for people like Melinda, with courage and compassion, who are protecting our most vulnerable and helping chip away at this terrible industry.”

Humane Society of Huron Valley cruelty and rescue supervisor Melinda Szabelski was named one of 14 "local heroes" by the Humane Society of the United States Stop Puppy Mills Campaign. (Humane Society of Huron Valley)

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.