Hometown Hero: Julie Cortis

Grosse Ile’s Animal Advocate

By Linda Francetich

It was no surprise when I called Julie to tell her she that was selected as the Discover Downriver Hometown Hero, that she “just happened” to be at the Grosse Ile Animal Shelter (on a Sunday) comforting Peaches, a pregnant mixed terrier, who was delivering puppies at the very moment of my phone call.

Julie is Grosse Ile’s animal control officer, a hero to both the Island creatures and animal owners alike. The animals that Julie advocates for are the neglected, lost, injured, or surrendered four-legged voiceless creatures, reaching well beyond the “normal” dog and cat population. We’re talking about bunnies, turtles, deer and a sundry of other small Island animals that are lucky enough to have Julie as their guardian angel. She, along with T.A.I.L.S., the non-profit that stewards the shelter, comfort these animals, as well as support and assure animal owners when their pet is lost or help is needed.

Just ask the pet parents of Addy, the “black ninja” runaway who recently was on the run for a total of 23 days.  Julie gathered an army of volunteers via Facebook and through a combined community effort and reunited Addy with her family after she finally was safely caught in a trap.

Island wildlife gets the same love and attention.  A large snapping turtle was hit by a vehicle and was suffering a serious shell injury.  Sgt. Warnick of the Grosse Ile PD helped Julie load the extra large turtle in her truck, and later the turtle was taken by a volunteer to Howell Nature Center for treatment.  After a little TLC, Superglue, and bracing the shell closed, it was returned safely back to Grosse Ile and released back into the wild.

It takes a village to care for the animals, and Julie credits the efforts of the Grosse Ile Police Department, T.A.I.L.S., the non-profit that stewards the shelter (T.A.I.L.S. Board members and most active shelter volunteers Roberta Holl, Robin Benson, Jodie McGrew), Dr. Woodward and the Island Animal Clinic staff, among many others who offer assistance.

“We are so fortunate to have the support of our residents in our animal care and advocacy,” Julie says.  “It’s an absolute collective effort.”  Julie credits Betty King as her mentor, an expert in wildlife rehab whom she met at the age of 11 and began her education in the care and compassion for wildlife rehab.

Julie has been a lifelong resident of Grosse Ile, and joined the Grosse Ile Police Reserves in 1991 (retired Captain in 2015) and became an animal control officer in February 2011. Julie said she remembers as a kid seeing Tom Ramsey doing the Animal Control job on the Island and thinking how cool it would be. After logging 100 hours of training through the set guidelines of the Michigan Department of Agriculture, Julie became a certified Animal Control Officer.

We recognize and congratulate Julie for her dedication to the community and to the countless animals who need her. Her passion, energy, diplomacy, and devotion to Grosse Ile is what makes our Downriver community a better place for all creatures.

To support the Grosse Ile Animal Shelter or adopt a shelter animal, please visit  www.grosseileanimalshelter.com .


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