BISSELL Pet Foundation, Humane Society of West Michigan team up to expand cattery

This cat and all the cats and kittens at HSWM are about to get a huge upgrade in their temporary living conditions.

This cat and all the cats and kittens at HSWM are about to get a huge upgrade in their temporary living conditions.

The cats and kittens in the care of Humane Society of West Michigan are about to get a huge upgrade on their digs.

If you’ve been to HSWM, you know the cattery there is filled with felines awaiting adoption into their forever home. Unfortunately, the cat population there has outgrown the current space (spay and neuter, people!) and cats are being housed in areas of the facility, not an ideal situation for the cats or the staff at HSWM.

Cathy Bissell, founder of the BISSELL Pet Foundation, scoops up the first shovel of dirt at HSWM where the cattery expansion will take place.

Cathy Bissell, founder of the BISSELL Pet Foundation, scoops up the first shovel of dirt at HSWM where the cattery expansion will take place.

Tuesday, HSWM held a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the BISSELL Cattery Expansion Project. Cathy Bissell, director of corporate affairs at BISSELL Inc. and founder of the BISSELL Pet Foundation, was on hand to celebrate the event.

She even dug out the first shovel of dirt where the expansion will take place, heels and all.

“If I can vacuum in these, I can dig dirt in these,” Bissell said, laughing, as she dug in her heels to break ground on the cattery.

Mark and Cathy Bissell created a matching gift challenge for the cattery expansion, calling for $25,000 to be raised by HSWM donations. So far, HSWM has raised $20,500, less than $5,000 away from the goal set by the Bissells.

When complete in the fall of 2014, the cattery expansion will create spacious and low-stress environments for the kittens and cats in HSWM’s care.

In addition to the BISSELL Cattery Expansion, funds raised through the campaign will:

  • Create a window in the cat holding area to provide natural light
  • Construct cat meet and greet rooms (currently, these rooms are right next to the dog kennels, where barking dogs can put stress on the cats meeting their potential adopters)
  • ·Purchase Crijo climbing structures for cat enrichment
  • Expand cat housing in the medical room
(left to right) HSWM's Andrew Aulgur, HSWM executive director Trudy Ender, BISSELL Pet Foundation's Cathy Bissell, Vander Kodde Construction's Jack Jolman and Walker Mayor Mark Huizenga were on hand for the cattery ground-breaking ceremony Tuesday.

(left to right) Architect Andrew Aulgur, HSWM executive director Trudy Ender, BISSELL Pet Foundation’s Cathy Bissell, Vander Kodde Construction’s Jack Jolman and Walker Mayor Mark Huizenga were on hand for the cattery ground-breaking ceremony Tuesday.

The campaign’s completion will provide cats and kittens with more space, which reduces stress and enriches their lives until they are adopted, HSWM said in a press release. The expansion also allows adopters to better interact with the cats and kittens in a more natural state as they will have room to climb, jump and play.

Also on hand for Tuesday’s groundbreaking were representatives from Vander Kodde Construction, which is providing the work on the expansion, Walker Mayor Mark Huizenga and board members, volunteers and staff from HSWM.

Several naming and donations opportunities are still available if you’d like to contribute to the fund and help match the Bissell’s generous offer. If you’re interested in helping out, get in touch with Tammy Hagedorn, HSWM Director of Development, at (616) 791-8138 or thagedorn@hswestmi.org.

Congratulations to HSWM Executive Director Trudy Ender and her staff on this wonderful news, and a big thank you, once again, to Cathy Bissell and the BISSELL Pet Foundation.

 

Happy Friday: Many step up to help neglected dogs, Peanut finds a home

Peanut, a terrier/Corgi mix who was part of a neglect case, was spruced up free of charge by Green Paws Unlimited and had much-needed dental work done (also free) before going to his "forever home" on Friday.

Peanut, a terrier/Corgi mix who was part of a neglect case, was spruced up free of charge by Green Paws Unlimited and had much-needed dental work done (also free) before going to his “forever home” on Friday.

We could use a little good news these days, and we got some Friday. We happened to meet a friend at the Kent County Animal Shelter, who was waiting before the doors even opened to adopt a little terrier/Corgi mix named Peanut.

Peanut, whose name was Harmony when he came to the shelter, was one of the 37 dogs seized in late July in a neglect case in Grand Rapids.

Our friend had wanted Peanut from the get-go, and she finally was able to bring him to her home on a lake Friday morning. As we met at the shelter’s doors, Lisa LaPlante, communications manager for the Kent County Health Department, wandered over to share great news.

Peanut waits in the adoption room at the Kent County Animal Shelter as his new owner listens to instructions from the shelter worker. (Photo by Yvonne M. Reames)

Peanut waits in the adoption room at the Kent County Animal Shelter as his new owner listens to instructions from the shelter worker. (Photo by Yvonne M. Reames)

Area vets in Grand Rapids were doing a remarkable job with the dogs from the seizure case, most of home had severe dental disease. And when the bill came to pay for all that dental work… well, it didn’t come. They donated their services for these special dogs!

Dr. Laurie Wright, Kent County Animal Shelter veterinarian, had put out a call to west Michigan area vets to “adopt” a dog to provide the care they needed, KCAS said in a news release Friday.

If you know Dr. Wright and the respect she has earned in this community, you know the vets answered her call.

“Within minutes, I had veterinarians offering to care for these struggling pets,” Wright said in the release. “They wanted to make a difference in the lives of these dogs.”

So far, 11 veterinary offices have provided free care or pledged care: Great Lakes Hospital for Animals in  Belmont, Animal Medical Center of Wyoming, Kelly’s Animal Hospital in Walker, Eastown Veterinary Clinic of Grand Rapids, Northland Veterinary  Hospital of Rockford, Westwood Hills Animal Hospital of Grand Rapids, Allendale Animal Hospital, Wyoming Animal Hospital, Safe Harbor Veterinary of Cascade, Animal Hospital of Kentwood and Weisner, Innis & Schoen, PC of Grand Rapids.

In addition, Green Paws Unlimited has provided grooming services for many of the dogs, also free of charge. And a wonderful job they have done. For before and after pictures of their remarkable work, check out the Green Paws Facebook page as well as this feel-good story by Barton Deiters, who has been following the story for MLive.com.

Happy Friday!

 

Sweet little stray benefits from kindness of strangers

The lucky little dog went to her new home in much better shape than when her new owners found her.

The lucky little dog went to her new home in much better shape than when her new owners found her.

I’m not sure how it happens, but it seems to happen often. I run into a dog who needs help. Or people who need help with a dog.

The other day, I attended a funeral visitation in Muskegon. Since I was in the area, I thought I’d stop by the Muskegon Humane Society to drop off some issues of Dogs Unleashed magazine. I knew they were closed on Wednesdays, but I also knew someone would be there tending to the animals.

An older couple pulled into the parking lot just after I had arrived. I informed them the shelter was closed, but that we could likely rouse someone. The woman had a little dog wrapped in a towel, so I inquired whether the dog was injured.

When she was found, the Shih Tzu mix was covered in fleas and dirt.

When she was found, the Shih Tzu mix was covered in fleas and dirt.

It was not, she said, but it did have issues. The little dog was found wandering up and down their street, barely avoiding getting hit by a car. She was covered in fleas and had no collar or tags. She was thin and clearly dehydrated. The couple wanted to keep the dog, but wasn’t sure what to do about the fleas. They were hoping Muskegon Humane Society could help.

Sure enough, Andrea Benes Bruce of MHS came out. She checked the dog for a microchip; there was none. She wasn’t able to help with the fleas, especially since their office was closed. I grabbed my smart phone and searched for a groomer. Turns out Kimmy’s Pampered Paws pet grooming was practically around the corner. Since I had magazines to deliver, I offered to have the couple follow me there, where we hopefully could talk Kimmy into an “emergency groom” for the poor little girl.

Kim Vanderberg, owner of Kimmy’s Pampered Paws, didn’t hesitate to take the dog in, even though she was busy grooming another dog. She told the couple it would take a few hours … a flea soak, shave down, etc., would be in order. She also advised them to de-flea their home since they had brought the dog in, attempting to bathe her themselves. She took their number and said she’d call when the dog was finished.

When the couple left, I slipped Kim some money to pay for the grooming. After seeing the condition of the dog, I figured it was the least I could do to help. The little girl (they hadn’t figured out a name for her yet) was going to need a visit to the vet. She also was going to have to be spayed — it appeared she may have been in season — and would need licensing and likely vaccinations.

A big thanks to Kimmy's for their willingness to perform an "emergency groom."

A big thanks to Kimmy’s for her willingness to perform an “emergency groom.”

There are some serious expenses awaiting the new owners, and I thought having the grooming taken care of was one less thing they’d have to worry about. I was so impressed and thankful that they took the time to help the dog that Ii wanted to help them.

And a huge thank you to Kimmy’s Pampered Paws for taking her in on a moment’s notice, and for making her look and feel beautiful. A good dog day, indeed.

 

Rescued dogs and puppies from South available at HS West Michigan

hswm puppies 1

The “Puppy Pipeline” to the Humane Society of West Michigan is now open! Potential adopters were lined up outside of HSWM a half hour before the facility even opened, hoping for a chance to adopt one of the 35 dogs and puppies that arrived in West Michigan Friday morning.

The dogs, the majority of which are puppies, arrived Friday morning from Dothan, Ala. They are of varying breeds, from spaniels to retrievers to huskies to Australian shepherds, and everything in between.

The Puppy Pipeline, out of southern states, connected with HSWM staff at the Humane Society of the United States national conference in Nashville, Tenn., in May. Since HSWM’s puppy room was virtually empty, the organization agreed to take this batch of puppies, who would have  been euthanized at their previous shelter because of overpopulation.

“Our number one priority is assisting the animal population in West Michigan,”  Trudy Ender, HSWM Executive Director, said in a news release. “In fact, we just transferred in 15 dogs from multiple shelters in West Michigan in the past few weeks. However, our puppy room has been empty the majority of the summer and we have the ability to adopt these puppies into loving homes rather than being euthanized due to lack of space in the South.”

The South struggles with spay/neuter programs as funding for shelters is scarce and they are facing an epidemic of dog overpopulation as a result.

“Our staff is excited about the chance to save these puppies’ lives while knowing we are helping to alleviate the overpopulation problems in the South,”  Nicole Cook, HSWM Marketing and Events Coordinator, said. “This transfer gives us an opportunity to stress the importance of spaying and neutering to our community and help West Michigan recognize that pet overpopulation is still a very serious problem in our nation.”

The puppies, ranging from four months to just weeks old, are being dewormed and vaccinated today. While potential adopters can fill out applications today for younger dogs, they likely won’t be available until the end of next week.

Here’s a glance at more of the dogs who arrived this morning.

A couple of the older dogs brought in on Friday wait in their kennel at HSWM. The dog on the left has only three legs.

A couple of the older dogs brought in on Friday wait in their kennel at HSWM. The dog on the left has only three legs.

Ashley Dahl of HSWM takes one of the puppies in for a vaccination.

Ashley Dahl of HSWM takes one of the puppies in for a vaccination.

Tiny puppies await their evaluations before they’re placed in the “puppy room” at HSWM.

Trudy Ender, executive director at HSWM, shows off one of the young puppies brought in Friday.

Trudy Ender, executive director at HSWM, shows off one of the young puppies brought in Friday.

Mike the puppy chews on his puppy medication after being examined.

Mike the puppy chews on his puppy medication after being examined.

One of the puppies seems curious about all the attention of the media.

Terry, an Australian shepherd mix, receives his oral medication.

Terry, an Australian shepherd mix, receives his oral medication.

Tiny puppies await their evaluations before heading to the "puppy room" at HSWM.

Tiny puppies await their evaluations before heading to the “puppy room” at HSWM.

One of the older puppies patiently awaits a turn at evaluation.

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Potential adopters lined up outside the door a half hour before HSWM even opened on Friday.

A fresh look at some of the dogs in the GR seizure case

Gallery

This gallery contains 14 photos.

When it was announced there would be an opportunity for media to meet some of the dogs forfeited to the Kent County Animal Shelter in the case against Kimberly Savino of Grand Rapids, Katy Batdorff Photography was on hand as … Continue reading

Dogs from Grand Rapids seizure case will need time, medical attention before adoption

Dr. Laurie Wright holds one of the puppies brought out to meet the media Friday.

Dr. Laurie Wright holds one of the puppies brought out to meet the media Friday.

The dogs seized in a Grand Rapids neglect case have been forfeited to the Kent County Animal Shelter. Now, it’s time to get them the help, the rehabilitation, the medical treatment, the loving homes they need and deserve.

Kimberly Savino, who faces criminal charges of neglect in the case involving the seizure of 39 dogs from her Grand Rapids home, did not pay Kent County the $106,430 required to hold the dogs until after her upcoming criminal trial. For the news story on the forfeiture, click here for Barton Deiter’s story on MLive.com.

The dogs, of varying breeds, mixes and sizes, became the property of KCAS on Friday afternoon. Dr. Laurie Wright, veterinarian at KCAS, and animal shelter staff brought some of the dogs, including 11-week-old puppies, out into the shelter’s play area to meet with the media. The dogs appeared happy and healthy.

The puppies will need to be spayed/neutered before they are available for adoption, Wright said. Other dogs still face an uphill road to recovery. Some of the dogs will be made available for adoption as soon as possible, likely at the end of next week. Many others will take longer.

But keep in mind, even those dogs available in the coming weeks will require patience from their new owners. They will need time to adjust to new surroundings. They have been in a kennel at the animal shelter since June 27, and can suffer from kennel stress as a result. As with adoption of any dog from a shelter, patience is the key.

All the dogs will be re-evaluated and it is likely many will be transferred to rescue agencies, some of which may place them into foster homes before they’re ready for adoption. Some have behavioral issues – they may show aggressive tendencies, anxiety or lack of socialization. They will need to be rehabilitated, and KCAS will work with individuals and rescue groups to ensure they get the training and behavior modification they need before they are made available for adoption.

“Some of the dogs have severe behavioral and medical issues that require treatment,” Kent County Animal Shelter Supervisor Carly Luttmann said in a news release. “We are working with partner agencies to help transfer these dogs to places that can best meet their needs. As dogs are treated and deemed ready for adoption, they will be moved from KCAS on-hold status to adoption kennels.”

The Humane Society of West Michigan is one option for the dogs. Trudy Ender, executive director of HSWM, said her staff would welcome some of the dogs.

“Humane Society of West Michigan will definitely partner and help to the best of our abilities in caring for these animals if the Kent County Animal Shelter needs us,” Ender said Friday. “We have a great relationship with KCAS and collaborate and partner in situations such as these.”

Most of the dogs need medical attention, particularly in the area of oral health. They came to KCAS with dental issues, some severe. Some have heart murmurs. Others have issues that will require daily medication. Medical treatment for these dogs will be expensive and will be ongoing, and I would caution anyone seeking to adopt them that they should be prepared to take on those expenses.

The animal shelter could be inundated with applicants once the dogs are put up for adoption. Again, patience will be required. The staff there will do its best to handle the influx of applications. They will take their time in deciding where the dogs in their facility will be placed. For dogs sent to other facilities or rescues, applicants will be screened by those groups once the dogs are available.

If you are interested in adopting an animal from the Kent County Animal Shelter, applications are available at ICPAWZ.com. Cost to adopt a dog, thanks to a grant from the Bissell Pet Foundation,  is $50, plus the licensing fee ($12 for one year, $30 for three-year license; $6/$15 for senior citizen adopters 62 or older).

Applications can be submitted to the animal shelter in person, via email or by fax. Getting an application in for pre-approval will expedite the adoption process. They may be emailed (Cathy.Hand@kentcountymi.gov) or faxed to 616-632-7324.

Dogs in Grand Rapids neglect case deserve a better life

Many of the dogs in Kimberly Savino's care were kept in small crates normally used for transport purposes.

Many of the dogs in Kimberly Savino’s care were kept in small crates normally used for transport purposes.

It is likely I’ll lose some Facebook friends over this blog post. I can’t be too concerned about that. Many of my friends on Facebook are mere acquaintances, people I’ve never met. Others already were my friends long before Facebook, or have become true friends the past several years. Those friends are the people with whom I surround myself.

Kimberly Savino, one of my friends on Facebook, falls into the “acquaintance” category. She is among a group of hundreds of Corgi owners to which I belong. Like many “friends” on Facebook, I have never spoken with her, never met her. I hadn’t seen her in person until Tuesday.

That’s when I sat in the courtroom in Grand Rapids listening to testimony at the hearing to determine whether dogs owned by Savino would have to be forfeited to Kent County. Savino has been criminally charged with neglect in a case involving 39 dogs seized from her home (or, more precisely, Sue and Ryen Strotheide’s home) by Kent County Animal Control. Kent County was seeking to have the dogs forfeited to them.

Savino, the defendant, wants the dogs returned to her. Savino testified she has, for many years, rescued dogs she said “other people didn’t want to deal with,” including those with special needs and medical issues. She moved to Grand Rapids from Massachusetts into the Strotheide home, in part because the city has no limit on the number of dogs allowed in a residence. She moved to their home in May 2013 as a temporary move. In June 2013, she said, she moved her permanently, but said the housing situation was temporary.

Yet the “temporary” arrangement had not changed by June 27, 2014, when animal control seized the dogs (including two dogs belonging to the Strotheides). Photos entered into evidence showed dog crates, the smaller plastic type in which animals are usually transported, stacked on top of one another in a room in the house. More dogs were in another room, also in crates. Yet more dogs were kept in the basement.

Animal control officer Joe Dainelis, who led the seizure, said many of the dogs could not turn around or stand up properly in their too-small crates. The house smelled of urine and feces and many of the crates (and dogs) also contained urine and feces, he said. Dainelis had visited the residence on previous occasions and had not filed any complaints, he testified.

Savino didn’t bring all her rescue dogs from Massachusetts at once. Some were rescued here in Michigan, from a Barry County shelter a few months ago. Savino’s own veterinarian who testified Tuesday said she saw only 10 dogs on an occasion in November 2013 and two more in December. The vet said she wasn’t aware Savino had 39 dogs until the news story came out and she was called to testify.

Kent County Animal Shelter veterinarian Laurie Wright was called to the stand and detailed the condition of each dog as they arrived at the shelter on June 27. She went through 37 dogs (the two dogs owned by the Strotheides are not included in this forfeiture), by name, and described their breed (or mix), sex, age (or approximate) and then condition. A video shown prior to her testimony showed the dogs upon intake and supported her testimony.

The majority of dogs were underweight and had dental diseases, overgrown toenails, ear infections and skin disorders. One tested positive for heartworm. Several had chronic eye problems. Most of the issues, Wright said, were to such a degree that the problems would have been easily recognized and are treatable.

Wright explained the dental health issues are rated on a grading scale of 1 to 4, with 1 being healthy and 4 on the other end of the spectrum. Of the 37 dogs presented (the Strotheide’s dogs were not included) into evidence, 11 had Grade 2 dental disease, 10 had Grade 3 and 10 had Grade 4. Five puppies were not included, nor was a Great Pyrenees who would not tolerate an oral exam because of pain and nervousness, Wright said.

Some dogs were missing teeth, including one with no teeth except the lower molars and another with exposed tooth roots and bone. Aside from the dental issues, Wright noted many of the dogs had feces matted in their coats (including one who needed a sanitary-area shaving in order to eliminate normally), urine soaked and stained feet, discharge from the eyes, and debris and hair in the ears, some of which were inflamed. A few had heart murmurs.

Savino testified the dogs were in fine condition before she and Sue Strotheide left for a trip to Massachusetts in late May. They were gone five days; Ryen Strotheide was in charge of the dogs. Savino said she found the dogs in distress and having seizures upon her return. They had not been fed or watered properly, she said. A door to the “dog room” was to be left open to allow for proper ventilation. Ryen had closed the door and opened blinds, causing overheating, Savino testified. Two dogs died within a couple of days of her return, despite her efforts to save them by rushing them to the emergency vet and performing CPR.

Shortly after the incident, and after he was served with divorce papers, Ryen Strotheide filed a neglect complaint against Savino. When asked why he hadn’t filed a complaint earlier, Ryen Strotheide said, “I thought things would get better. I thought we would develop a system. We were promised help and it never materialized.”

Wright said the condition of the dogs she witnessed was not a result of four or five days of neglect by Ryen Strotheide, but neglect that had built up over time. Judge James Robert Redford, in his ruling, agreed.

“I find the defendant’s testimony incredible,” Redford said. He said Savino’s claim that the conditions resulted from four days of neglect by Ryen Strotheide “is illogical and unsupported.”

“The defendant failed to provide adequate care and the manner in which the defendant chose to warehouse these animals (in transport crates) was completely inappropriate,” Redford said.

He offered two photos admitted into evidence, of the same room inside the home. One, admitted by the defense, showed the room in “perfect” condition, with a minimal number of crates, fresh paint, clean.

“I don’t know when exhibit G was taken,” Redford said, regarding the photo admitted by the defense. “But exhibit 7 (the peoples’ photo) was 24 days after Ryen (Strotheide’s) complaint and it is absolutely disgusting, the filth these animals were required to live in. “Thankfully, the dogs were taken out of the home.”

Redford ruled the county acted appropriately in seizing the dogs from the home. Savino was ordered to pay $106,430 by 4:45 p.m. Friday or forfeit the dogs. If she pays, the dogs will remain in the Kent County Animal Shelter until Nov. 30, at which point Savino’s criminal trial should be finished (a probable cause hearing is Aug. 28 in Grand Rapids District Court).

If she does not pay, the dogs will be turned over the animal shelter and eventually made available for adoption. It is likely west Michigan rescue organizations such as the Humane Society of West Michigan will offer assistance, as has been the case in the past with animals seized in puppy mill or hoarding cases.

After hearing testimony and watching the intake video, I couldn’t agree more with Judge Redford. These dogs deserve individual attention and love, not the kind of attention (or time) one person can give to 39 dogs under one roof. They need medical attention. They need to be free to run in their own yard, sleep in their own bed, eat outside their crates and drink water whenever they want.

They need to be dogs.

If Kimberly Savino truly loves these dogs, as she says, she will give them their freedom and not fight to keep them in the shelter until after her criminal trial for neglect.

It has been my experience that they will get that chance to be dogs once they are made available for adoption. West Michigan animal lovers certainly will line up with applications, ready to give the dogs the happy and loving homes they deserve.

BISSELL Blocktail Party continues to set records

Among the activities at this year's Blocktail Party was a temporary color treatment that turned dogs into walking works of art. (Photo courtesy of Grumpy Pups Pet Photography)

Among the activities at this year’s Blocktail Party was a temporary color treatment that turned dogs into walking works of art. (Photo courtesy of Grumpy Pups Pet Photography)

The numbers are in, and the annual BISSELL Blocktail Party once again has broken its previous fundraising records.

The annual event celebrated its ninth anniversary on June 11 on the lawn at Mangiamo! restaurant in Grand Rapids. Despite rainy weather much of the day, the party drew nearly 700 guests, many of whom were accompanied by their dogs.

Armed with a new silent auction app in which guests – and even those who couldn’t make it to the party – could wander about the event and make bids on items via their mobile device, this year’s BISSELL Blocktail party raised more than $250,000 to help West Michigan animal advocacy organizations.

Bidders were able to make and track their bids via their devices without having to circle back to crowded auction tables. The convenient app also meant non-party goers could get in on the bidding for great auction items or simply make a donation for the event.

While we weren’t able to attend this year – our Jack Russell terrier, who is deathly afraid of thunderstorms, kept us at home – we were able to make a donation to Blocktail from home thanks to the new system. Since we usually come home from Blocktail armed with artwork, local services or other goodies we “won” in the silent auction (including the computer on which this blog is written), we figured we would at least donate an amount we’d normally spend at Blocktail. It was our way of contributing to such a wonderful event from 25 miles away!

And we know our contribution will be well spent. Monday, the event’s committee announced the recipients of Blocktail grants through the BISSELL Pet Foundation. The organizations help West Michigan pets in a variety of ways, from spay/neuter programs to microchipping, adoption and rescue, care for senior pets and medical care of victims of cruelty and neglect.

“The BISSELL Pet Foundation exists to provide support to shelters and rescues so that they can ultimately find a loving family for the millions of homeless pets in our country,” Cathy Bissell, founder of the BISSELL Pet Foundation, said in a news release. “We are very proud to support these 14 local organizations with funds from this year’s party and have been thrilled to see how collaboration between many of these groups is changing the face of animal welfare in our community. I am so thankful that through the BISSELL Blocktail Party our community can show their support for these progressive and compassionate groups. Together, we are working to save lives!”

We’ll be back for next year’s Blocktail Party – we missed seeing all the dogs and people and, of course, the food. And we can take comfort in knowing we were able to contribute to this year’s event and help those who help animals in our community.

A list of the BISSELL Blocktail grant recipients from this year’s event (“Blocktail Buddies” each received an additional $1,000 gift earlier in 2014 to recognize their dedication to animal welfare):

• Community Spay Neuter Initiative Partnership (C-SNIP): $45,000
• Humane Society of West Michigan: $40,000
• Vicky’s Pet Connection: $27,000
• Pound Buddies (Volunteers for Muskegon County Animal Control): $19,500
• Kent County Animal Shelter: $18,845
• West Michigan Spay & Neuter Clinic: $18,000
• Crash’s Landing & Big Sid’s Sanctuary: $12,500
• Safe Haven Humane Society: $10,000
• Lake Haven Rescue: $10,000
• Reuben’s Room Cat Rescue: $6,750
• Carol’s Ferals: $5,000
• Kelley’s Heart to Heart: $5,000
• Focus on Ferals: $5,000

DaVinci Foundation food drive nets two tons for Detroit-area pets in need

"Big D" DaVinci, spokesdog of the DaVinci Foundation for Animals. (Candilynn and Michael Lockhart photo)

“Big D” DaVinci, spokesdog of the DaVinci Foundation for Animals. (Candilynn and Michael Lockhart photo)

By Mary Ullmer

I’ve never met Candilynn and Michael Lockhart, yet we’ve formed a bond. That bond is based in our love of pets, and in efforts to help pets in need.

The Lockharts, who write and shoot photos for the “Doggy Destination” stories in Dogs Unleashed magazine (a product of U.S. Retail Inc.’s Pet Supplies Plus franchises), are co-founders of the non-profit DaVinci Foundation for Animals.

Together with their dog, Big D DaVinci, they’ve raised funds for pets in need in the Detroit area. Their latest effort, a food drive that ran through the month of April, resulted in two tons of pet food being donated to Detroit area rescues, shelters and low-income families to ensure pets do not go hungry.

The foundation teamed up with DogTipper.com, BringFido.com and Pedigree for the DaVinci’s Detroit Initiative Food Drive.

Through the AAAR Paws for Life program, the food will be distributed throughout Detroit to any family or person with pets in need of assistance as well as to several rescues, shelters and food banks. Because of the success of  the food drive, Paws for Life, Detroit’s second largest food bank, will have food available to assist families and help feed homeless dogs in Detroit throughout the summer.

“We believe that no dog should to go hungry, all we need to do is band together,”  Candilynn and Michael said in a press release.

If you live in Michigan, you’ve no doubt been made aware of the stray pet population in Detroit, and the organizations working to do something about it. Candilynn and Michael are just getting started, and they’ve already done a world of good for pets in need in the Detroit area. Their organization’s motto is “Creating a better world for animals one city at a time.” I encourage you to learn more about the DaVinci Foundation for Animals by checking out their website, TheDavinciFoundation.org.

The organization’s official mascot, DaVinci (aka Big D) also has a Facebook page to keep supporters up to date on their many activities aimed toward helping pets in the Detroit area.

Mary Ullmer is editor and creator of Dogs Unleashed magazine. To subscribe to Dogs Unleashed, go to getdogsunleashed.com or visit the website, dogsunleashedmag.com. Be sure to “like” the magazine’s Facebook page!

Zeus, world’s tallest dog, and other Supersize Pets featured tonight on Nat Geo Wild

The world's tallest dog, Zeus, is among the Supersized Pets featured on a NatGeo Wild special tonight. (Photo by Jennifer N. Waters)

The world’s tallest dog, Zeus, is among the Supersized Pets featured on a NatGeo Wild special tonight. (Photo by Jennifer N. Waters)

Tune in tonight (Friday, April 11), or set your DVR, to Nat Geo Wild’s special, “Supersize Pets.” Featured in the show is Zeus, the world’s tallest dog.

Our January/February 2013 issue featured Zeus.

Our January/February 2013 issue featured Zeus.

We featured Zeus in Dogs Unleashed magazine, a product of Pet Supplies Plus, in our January 2013 issue. Zeus, a Great Dane from Plainwell, Mich., was declared the world’s tallest dog back in November 2012 by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Shortly after our Dogs Unleashed issue came out, we were contacted by National Geographic asking about using photos from Jennifer Waters, owner of Grumpy Pups Pet Photography, for their special. Jennifer photographed Zeus for our story and had plenty of shots for National Geographic to use. She certainly wasn’t going to turn down an opportunity to collaborate with Nat Geo!!

Producers also asked if they could use a shot of the cover of our issue, and we of course obliged.

Be sure to catch the special and learn about pets livin’ large! It is scheduled to air at 10 p.m. Eastern Time on Nat Geo Wild channel. (Check your local listings).