Stifling heat dangerous to our pets … know the warning signs

Baby, it’s hot out there! The Dog Days of Summer arrived a bit earlier than usual (that term is usually reserved for August), and much of the nation is sweltering these days.

I’m fortunate to work from home, where I can put our dogs in the air-conditioned house. Yes, they want to be outside, but it takes only a few minutes for them to realize perhaps indoors is the place for them. When they are out, we find the shady spots near our home and I make sure to fill up their kiddie pool with fresh cold water. So far, they’re surviving.

There also are products available, such as cooling pads and beds that sit up off the floor, to help keep our furry friends stay cool.

My friends at The Uncommon Dog sent along a cool infographic on recognizing heat stroke in our dogs. It’s especially important to keep our dogs cool in this 90-plus degree heat, with heat indexes hitting 100 in many parts of the country. Be sure to take a look, and take action if your dog is suffering from heat stroke (do not put your dog in an ice bath … use a cool damp towel to cool them instead!).

Thanks, Uncommon Dog, for the info, and stay cool!

PrintMary Ullmer is editor of Dogs Unleashed, a lifestyle magazine for dog lovers. Contact her at To subscribe to Dogs Unleashed, visit, and be sure to “like” Dogs Unleashed Magazine on Facebook.


The Great Cosmic Kittygrass Experiment: Update

From my previous post, you know I’m trying an experiment involving Cosmic Kittygrass that I found in our pet cupboard. The product was more than 10 years old, I guessed, since the testing date was 2002. I decided to give it a try anyway, to see if this stuff works.

So far, so good. I waited three days and checked for sprouts. Nothing. I figured perhaps the place I stored it, inside an old cooler on our sun porch, wasn’t warm enough (it says to store in a warm dark place). Since temperatures have climbed the past couple days, I decided to put it in a shady area (still with the lid on) outside.

That seems to have done the trick! I opened the lid this morning, five days after planting the seeds, and, alas, sprouts have sprouted! Now, it’s a matter of keeping the soil matter damp and leaving it in the sun. I’m hopeful I’ll have a container filled with yummy catnip-like grass in no time.
And yes, we have a cat, sort of. She’s a barn cat, Buck. She has a boy’s name because we thought she was a boy when we took her in to get “fixed” as a kitten (we are responsible pet owners and have all our pets spayed/neutered, even our barn cat). When they told us she was a girl, we opted to keep her name so we’d have a story to tell about how she got her name!

Buck, our awesome barn cat (yes, she is spayed).

Buck, our awesome barn cat (yes, she is spayed).

I’ll leave the catgrass on our patio area, which Buck frequents at night when the dogs are all in the house. Hopefully, it will grow the point where she can enjoy it!

The Great Cosmic Kittygrass Experiment

I am not a hoarder, but it’s likely I’m somewhat of a pack rat. I just have a hard time throwing things out that I might use sometime.

“Sometime” has come for an item I found tucked away in our “pet cupboard.” Yes, we have an entire cupboard area devoted to pet items: Extra food bowls, the dogs’ current boxes of heartworm preventative, vitamin supplements, treats, etc. I’m sure we’re not much different from other pet owners in that regard.

I’m not sure how many pet owners have an unopened box of Cosmic Kittygrass lurking in their pet supplies area, though.


cosmic kittyI discovered it for the umpteenth time when looking for something the other day and decided it was time to get rid of it. After all, I don’t remember when or how we acquired it (probably in a gift basket at some point), and we haven’t had a house cat in years.


Sure enough, when I turned the box over to search for a date, I saw it was “tested” in 2002. But rather than throw it in the garbage, I decided to see if it would still hold up after all these years.

expire dateThus begins the Great Cosmic Kittygrass Experiment. This is the first of a few posts I’ll make to let you follow along with the unscientific science project.


I followed the simple instructions, which seemed a little more complicated than what I expected. I figured you dump the seed packet in and add water. Wrong!



I didn’t have a nail handy to poke holes in the bottom of the little plastic container. Note: The lid is kept on when the container is turned over to poke the holes as there is a dirt-like substance inside. Like any good do-it-yourselfer, I did manage to locate a screw and made my holes with that. We’ll see if that makes a difference.

step 1When it came to planting the little seeds into the container, there seemed to be an abundance of seeds for such a small container. While is said to push the seeds down into the mixture, there were too many seeds to get them all underneath the mixture.

seedsOnce again improvising, I decided to experiment further and plant the remaining seeds in soil. Two experiments in one!

extrasThe extra seeds reside in our home-made plant stand on our patio, where they’ll get plenty of sun, heat and water.

plant standBack to the “real” experiment. I added two ounces of water and then “floated” the container in a bowl of water to absorb through the holes in the bottom (it didn’t seem to absorb too well … maybe it was the screw vs. nail problem).

The final step in the first part of the experiment was to put it in a warm, dark place. Our basement isn’t exactly warm, so I chose to put it in an antique cooler we purchased at a yard sale a few years ago that resides on our sun porch. It will stay dark inside, while the sun blazing in the sun porch should provide enough heat.

warm dry placeMy Great Cosmic Kittygrass Experiment is underway. It must remain in the warm, dark place for three days, at which point I’ll check back in. I’m prepared for failure … can I really expect 11-year-old seeds to sprout … but I’m hopeful it works.

Stay tuned… I’ll report back in a few days!

Mary Ullmer is editor of Dogs Unleashed, a lifestyle magazine for dog lovers. Contact her at To subscribe to Dogs Unleashed, visit


Ready for Blocktail? Bone up on last year’s grant recipients and get your tickets today

Editor’s note: The following appeared in the May/June issue of Dogs Unleashed magazine. 


The goal, of course, is to save more cats and dogs. The idea is to find them the loving homes every pet deserves.

Our dog, Truman, is ready for the party scene. Are you? Bissell Blocktail tickets are $55 today and go up to $65 Tuesday. The event is Wednesday at Mangiamo! in Grand Rapids. (Grumpy Pups Pet Photography photo)

Our dog, Truman, is ready for the party scene. Are you? Bissell Blocktail tickets are $55 today and go up to $65 Tuesday. The event is Wednesday at Mangiamo! in Grand Rapids. (Grumpy Pups Pet Photography photo)

The problem, of course, is that too many pet owners are irresponsible, avoiding the simple steps of spaying or neutering that can make a real difference in curbing the exploding population of unwanted cats and dogs.

Enter the BISSELL Pet Foundation and the annual BISSELL Blocktail Party, set for June 12 at Mangiamo!, 1033 Lake Drive SE, Grand Rapids. Tickets are available for $55 until Tuesday, when they increase to $65. Go to the Blocktail website to order them online today.

Last year, the event raised $187,000 to help pets in West Michigan. But beyond the dollars, it sparked a united front among the agencies and charitable organizations that tend to pets’ needs, creating efficiencies and surely saving more lives along the way.

That’s because Cathy Bissell, founder of the Bissell Pet Foundation, required those seeking grant monies to exercise collaboration with other pet non-profits to eliminate overlap and ensure that each dollar granted went as far as it possibly could to make a pet’s life better.

“The Blocktail Party has really fostered collaboration among organizations that love and want to help animals,” said Shannon Reinecke, foster care/adoption coordinator at Vicky’s Pet Connection in Ada. “I think that has made a bigger difference, even beyond the dollars. The grant process has inspired all of us to work together to see how we can best help pets.”

It has allowed the organizations to specialize in many areas, ensuring that no dog or cat is left behind. From spaying and neutering, to caring for the needs of at-risk senior dogs and cats, monies raised at the annual Blocktail Party are making a difference in West Michigan.

“It’s amazing,” said Carly Luttmann, program supervisor of the Kent County Animal Shelter. “I can’t say enough what it means to all of our organizations around here to not only have the Blocktail Party but to have the Bissell Pet Foundation.”

And it means a lot to plenty of cats and dogs, too, who have been saved from euthanasia and/or placed in loving homes.

“It is amazing to have an organization right in our backyard that recognizes the unheard voices of the millions of homeless animals,” said Trudy Ender, executive director of Humane Society of West Michigan. “Bissell Pet Foundation is a wonderful resource not only in West Michigan, but beyond.”

To illustrate BPF’s reach in West Michigan, here’s what the grant money from last year’s Blocktail Party did for area organizations.


With 7,500 animals per year coming through the Kent County Animal Shelter, workers have focused on increasing the save rate of unwanted dogs and cats. Of the $41,000 in grant money received, $25,000 was used for spaying and neutering with the adoption program; $11,000 was used to underwrite adoption fees for low-income would-be pet owners and $5,000 was used to spay and neuter stray dogs and cats.

“Spaying and neutering is the most important thing,” said Luttmann. “If people realized that a simple act has such a positive repercussion on the animals saved because of it, they would do it more.”

Luttmann hopes to change the culture in West Michigan to align more with areas like Denver, Colo., where it is unusual not to have a pet spayed or neutered.

“Our goal is to increase live release all the way,” Luttmann said.

KCAS, which is funded primarily through county government, takes in about 7,500 animals per year and has a save rate (adoptions, reclaims and transfers in comparison to euthanasia rate) of about 30 percent.

In the spirit of collaboration, the shelter has worked with other agencies, such as Vicky’s Pet Connection, to place animals and give them the best chance for adoption.

“We work a lot with other agencies in the area,” Luttmann said.


C-SNIP’s mission is “fixing” pets so they don’t reproduce, and last year’s grant helped the organization focus primarily on its Big Paws Project, which spays and neuters dogs 50 pounds and bigger.

“Larger animals will have larger litters,” explained former executive director Pat Schoen, who retired in February. “We have never turned anyone away for lack of affordability and we offset the costs of what the client cannot pay.”

C-SNIP, which has facilities in both Muskegon and Kent counties, opens its doors to anyone throughout the country and has spayed and neutered more than 95,000 cats and dogs. A fully staffed operation, C-SNIP’s funding comes from donations, surgery fees and grants. Schoen said about 96 percent of C-SNIP’s clients are low-income.

“Our mortality rate is probably the lowest in the country because of the skills and attention of our staff,” said Schoen.

Still, she is particularly concerned about the “overwhelming continuing explosion” of cats in West Michigan and grant money not used for the Big Paws project has helped with spaying and neutering cats.

C-SNIP partners with the Humane Society of West Michigan two days a month to provide vaccinations for low-income pet owners. It also waives fees for active military personnel and women who are entering a shelter situation and need help with their pets.


Older dogs and cats present special challenges, Reinecke said, because their needs are greater and they are more difficult to place in homes.

So Vicky’s Pet Connection used $15,000 of its Blocktail grant for its Golden Paws program.

“We pull at-risk senior dogs out of shelters and provide them with medical attention and try to get them adopted,” Reinecke said.

They include dogs like Franny, a Beagle taken from the Allegan County Animal Shelter and then Wishbone Rescue, who was in critical shape by the time she reached Vicky’s. Franny had extensive dental work as well as a three-inch tumor removed from her paw.

“These animals are remarkable,” said Reinecke. “Most of the time they can be rehabbed into very loving family pets.”

Vicky’s also takes in and adopts out about 600 cats a year, but focuses primarily on aging and special needs dogs.

Vicky’s used $5,000 of its Blocktail grant for its Buddy’s Big Fix Fund, which focuses on spaying and neutering larger dogs, while $7,000 has been used for microchipping pets.


The bulk of HSWM’s Blocktail grant has been used on adoption specials, including its Silver Paws Program for senior dogs. The remaining dollars were spent on microchipping for low-income pet owners and providing animal transfer subsidies.

With an annual operating budget of $1.5 million funded primarily with grants and donations and an intake rate of about 3,500 animals per year, every dollar is critical to helping animals in West Michigan, Ender said.

The oldest help agency for animals in West Michigan — the organization was founded in 1883 — it works closely with other organizations to provide homes and care for cats and dogs.

“The grants fueled by funds raised at the Blocktail Party have such a positive impact on Humane Society of West Michigan’s mission, enabling us to improve and extend the care we provide to animals, increase the number of animal adoptions, expand opportunities, and launch new initiatives that benefit the community’s animals and pet owners,” said Ender. “The Bissell Blocktail Party is another philanthropic testimony that as a community, we are in it together — we are joined together for life-saving measures for animals in our community.”

Specifically, the grant allowed the Humane Society, located in Walker, to subsidize six months of adoption specials and to provide reduced-rate vaccinations and free microchipping for low-income pet owners.


There are plenty of behind-the-scenes costs that go into helping animals, and equipment is just one of them.

Carol Manos, founder of Carol’s Ferals in Grand Rapids, said the Blocktail grant was instrumental in purchasing a washer and dryer and dishwasher to help clean the bedding and dishes for the thousands of cats passing through the organization on a yearly basis.

“These purchases have really helped us provide more sanitary conditions for our cats,” said Manos.

Remaining Blocktail grant funds have been used for the shelter’s spay and neuter program, the top priority at Carol’s Ferals.


A cat rescue placement center in Grand Rapids, Crash’s Landing doesn’t aspire to be the biggest shelter in West Michigan.

“We never set out to be the biggest shelter,” said Kimberly Grant, vice president and director of communications for Crash’s Landing. “We are more than happy and satisfied to, as the motto states, ‘help our little corner of the world, one cat at a time.’ We firmly stand by the ideal of quality over quantity and do not apologize for that.”

Yet, the Blocktail grant allowed the shelter to increase its capacity by 8 percent to 130 cats. Other monies have been used to publicize the facility, which has resulted in more than doubling the number of adoptions per month, from an average of 7 to 19. An added bonus: Volunteer numbers also have more than doubled.

“We’ve worked very hard in 2012 to alter the public perception of Crash’s Landing,” said Grant. “I believe we were perceived as difficult to adopt from — even standoffish.”

Crash’s has used $7,000 of the grant to promote adoptions and community outreach and $3,000 for food and supplies.


Mackenzie’s takes in out about 100 dogs per year but was unable to provide some of the on-site care needed to prepare them for adoption.

The Blocktail grant has been used toward purchasing laboratory equipment to assist with diagnostics. “We are not able to do in-depth eye exams, run more accurate fecal samples, urinalysis, etc.,” said Jorel Davis, assistant general manager of Mackenzie’s. “This was the first step towards the future.”

Davis said he’s excited about what Mackenzie’s, located in Lake Odessa, will be able to do to help homeless dogs with an on-site veterinary clinic.

“We will be able to impact a greater number of deserving animals relinquished to animal control facilities, humane societies and other types of facilities that euthanize,” said Davis. “Through this, we will be able to show our community that these dogs are not to blame; given needed attention and some time, they are great companions that just need to find their forever home.”


Located in Ionia, Safe Haven has used its grant to create a dog-training program for people who adopt their dogs, in addition to supporting a free spay/neuter program for female cats and their litters.

Safe Haven focuses on rescuing cats and dogs from abandonment situations.


Reuben’s has targeted its grant for helping with the needs of its senior cat population.

Reuben’s Room facilitator Jeanine Buckner is convinced that cats make a difference in senior citizens’ lives and she has focused on matching her older cats with elderly men and women. Her program is called “Worry Free Adoption for Seniors.”


This dog and cat shelter in Fremont, has used its grant to purchase 200 Avid microchips in hopes that animals can be reunited with their owners sooner than Bonnie and Clyde, two elderly Beagles who came to the shelter in 2011.

Carmen Froehle, facilities manager at Bellwether, said the elderly dogs stayed at the shelter for nearly a year when a young boy showed up after seeing photos posted online. They were the boy’s dogs, named Daisy and Gunner, and “the family was overjoyed” to get their dogs back.

Had the dogs been microchipped, they would have been reunited much sooner. With the Blocktail grant, Froehle said they can now ensure every cat and dog is microchipped before they are adopted.


MidAmerica Border Collie Rescue serves the Michigan, Illinois, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Indiana areas and has used its grant to microchip its border collies before putting them up for adoption. There is no facility for the rescue. Instead, adoptable dogs are housed in foster homes.


Meet Zeus, find your new best friend and have fun at HSWM’s 12-hour carnival

Finally, warm temperatures are ready to greet us in West Michigan, and it’s just in time for Saturday’s 12-hour adoption event and carnival at the Humane Society of West Michigan.

HSWM’s free annual event, which features games, events for kids and adoption specials, begins at 10:30 a.m. and runs until 10:30 p.m. Visitors can find great prices on animal adoptions, including $5 for cats older than six months and for small critters, and $25 for kittens from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

From 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., dogs can be adopted for just $45, while it’s “name your price” on cats, kittens and small critters. Other adoption specials will be worked into fun games, like “Guess the Weight of the Dog” and “Spin to Win with the Wheel of Savings.”

And while the goal is to get animals into forever homes, there also will be plenty of fun and educational opportunities. There are carnival games, an adoptable animals parade, “Rockin’ Rovers” and Zumba class.

At 4 p.m., the world’s tallest dog, Zeus, will be on hand to greet visitors. Zeus, a Great Dane from Plainwell, this fall was named the World’s Tallest Dog by the Guinness Book  or Records. The gentle giant visited a kid’s camp at HSWM over Christmas break and was so popular, the staff is bringing him back for Saturday’s event.

At 7 p.m., former Army Captain Luis Carlos Montalván, who wrote the New York Times bestseller “Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him,” will talk about his book and his experiences. His best friend, and service dog, Tuesday, for whom the book is named, also will be on hand.

The evening with Montalvan requires tickets ($20) and copies of his book also will be available for purchase and signing. To order tickets, click here. .

Here’s a schedule of Saturday’s 12 hours of fun:

Adoption Specials:

10:30 am -noon: $5 cats (over 6 months); $25 Kittens; $5 Small Critters
Noon-2 pm: Guess the Weight Dog Adoption Special
2 pm-7:30 pm: Spin to Win with the Wheel of Savings
7:30 pm-10:30 pm: $45 Dogs and Name Your Price Cats, Kittens & Small Critters
Schedule of Events
10:30 am-6 pm: Carnival Games
Noon-1 pm: Rockin’ Rovers
2 pm – 3 pm: Adoptables Parade
3 pm-4 pm: Zumba Class
4 pm-5 pm: Meet Zeus, the world’s tallest dog
7 pm: “Until Tuesday” Special Event (tickets required)
For more information about this event, please contact Jen Self-Aulgur, Director of Education and Community Programs, at or 616-791-8066.
IMPORTANT: If you are looking to adopt at this event and you have any current pets at home, please bring their vet records with you. Vet offices tend to be closed on Saturdays and HSWM needs to know that your current animals are up-to-date before they can send another animal home with you! Otherwise, please come in on a day before the open house to go through the initial application process/vet check so that you can adopt and take the animal home during the open house. Please call 616-453-8900 with any questions.

Area animal advocates come together for a common goal

Had a great time at Bow-Wows & Brews, a big fundraiser for C-SNIP, on Thursday night. The food was great, beer was flowing (although I don’t drink and didn’t partake, I was told by many the microbrews were tasty) and the “Heads or Tails” game to win prizes went over quite well.

There were a ton of silent auction items and several people took advantage of pet portraits shot by Grumpy Pups Pet Photography‘s Jennifer Waters. While we didn’t bring our dogs to the event, there were a TON of dogs at the DeltaPlex. In fact, we “borrowed” Shelley Irwin’s Jack Russell terrier, Petie, for a portrait and kept an eye on him while the WGVU Morning Show host helped to emcee the event.

But the best part of the evening, aside from raising funds for such a worthwhile cause, was seeing representatives from many of the other west Michigan non-profit organizations on hand to support C-SNIP.

Aside from the many staff and volunteers from C-SNIP, it was wonderful to visit with Trudy Ender and Jennifer Self-Aulgur of the Humane Society of West Michigan, Carly Luttmann, program supervisor of the Kent County Animal Shelter, and Cathy Bissell, whose Bissell Pet Foundation helps shelter animals nationwide.

Laurel Pruski, who is co-chair with Cathy Bissell for June’s Blocktail Party, was working the silent auction tables. She also is in charge of Mackenzie’s Bark at the Bob event on April 18.

Many other Grand Rapids organizations were on hand as well. It warmed my heart to see the collaboration of these organizations, who all are vying for fundraising dollars. Rather than thinking only of their own organizations, they banded together to support one another and, most importantly, to support the cause of helping prevent pet overpopulation and finding homes for shelter pets.

Next up on the big event calendar is HSWM’s Paws, Claws & Corks on March 25. For information or to purchase tickets, check out the HSWM website. It’s my hope the various non-profits will continue to offer support to each other. After all, united we stand. Right?



Celebrate Bow-Wows & Brews, and wish C-SNIP’s Pat Schoen a fond farewell

It’s a bittersweet day for anyone who has been involved in C-SNIP. It happens to be the last day of work for Pat Schoen, the organization’s executive director the past seven years.

C-SNIP co-founder Pam Olsen, left, and outgoing Executive Director Pat Schoen at the 2011 Bow-Wows & Brews event. (C-SNIP photo)

C-SNIP co-founder Pam Olsen, left, and outgoing Executive Director Pat Schoen at the 2011 Bow-Wows & Brews event. (C-SNIP photo)

Schoen took over in 2006, when C-SNIP, the Community Spay and Neuter Initiative Partnership in West Michigan, moved from a mobile unit to its current building at 1675 Viewpond SE in Kentwood. The building was donated by Lois Levy and allowed C-SNIP to perform many more surgeries, including those on dogs.

About the time the doors to the new building opened, Schoen had taken early retirement from her previous job. She had planned to perhaps work part-time somewhere. But Pam Olsen, Betsy Pullen and Sue Carl, founders who founded C-SNIP in 2001, had other plans. Before she knew it, Schoen was in place as C-SNIP’s director and charged with taking the organization to the next level.

During her seven years there, C-SNIP has performed 75,773 spay/neuter surgeries on dogs and cats. All told, C-SNIP has “fixed” some 96,000 pets since its inception in 2001. Many pet owners couldn’t afford the surgery at their veterinarian, and C-SNIP has never turned away an owner for inability to pay for the procedure.

“I think that’s what I’m most proud of,” Schoen told me Thursday morning, her last day at work. “Through grants donations, we have been able to subsidize surgeries. We have never, ever, turned anyone away for lack of finances.”

Her swan song, so to speak, will be next week’s Bow-Wows & Brews event at DeltaPlex Arena in Grand Rapids. The event, from 6:30-10 p.m. on March 7 (that’s a Thursday), features sample microbrews, heavy Hors d’oeuvres (both vegan and traditional), silent and live auctions, raffle prizes and photos of your dog by Grumpy Pups Pet Photography‘s Jennifer Waters.

 Bow-Wows & Brews is all about, food, beer, fun, dogs and a good cause. What's not to love?

Bow-Wows & Brews is all about, food, beer, fun, dogs and a good cause. What’s not to love?
(C-SNIP photo)

Dogs are welcome, and encouraged to come with their owners. Tickets are $40 per person (with $28 tax deductible) or $75 for two ($51 tax deductible) and can be purchased through the C-SNIP website. (I purchased ours this morning and was amazed at how simple it was … it took me less than a minute!).

I checked out the list of items available in silent and live auctions, and a fun new event, “Heads of Tails.” It’s more like a game, and the last person standing wins a fabulous prize, including an iPad, certificates to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. The 50-plus silent auction items include lift tickets to Boyne Mountain, a weekend spa getaway and a kid’s birthday party for 10 at the Humane Society of West Michigan. Live auction bidding includes — get this — a trip to Chicago’s Wrigley Field worth $1,400.

If you’re a pet lover in West Michigan, I encourage you to attend Bow-Wows & Brews and help support the wonderful work C-SNIP and Pat Schoen have come to represent. Their efforts have prevented unwanted litters of puppies and kittens and have made a difference in our community.

“We have brought awareness to the absolute necessity to spay and neuter our pets by offering affordable services to people who otherwise could not afford it,” Schoen said. “We are seeing a reduction in our area of dogs, specifically, at the animal shelter and humane society.

“Cats still remain a big effort. The cat population continues to explode because of the ability of them to have several litters per year.”

Schoen and the C-SNIP staff have come up with various programs and specials throughout the years, including “Beat the Heat” with reduced fees for cats and kittens, and “Primp Your Pit,” which last summer offered reduced fees for those who brought their pit bull or pit bull mixes in for spay/neuter surgery.

C-SNIP is able to offer such specials and affordable surgeries thanks to grants from various organizations, notably the Bissell Pet Foundation and PetSmart Charities, and with the money it makes at its annual fundraising events, like Bow-Wows & Brews, Antiques Road Show and the C-SNIP Classic golf outing.

And while we’ll be saying good-bye to Pat at this year’s Bow-Wows & Brews (although she has “volunteered” for the golf outing committee), we also will be saying hello to C-SNIP’s new executive director, Kara Eagle. Eagle, a native of Grand Rapids, has nine years experience in non-profit administration, including five in animal rescue. She served a year on the board of directors at C-SNIP.

“I’m absolutely delighted with Kara,” Schoen said. “She is going to be able to take this organization further and she has the same passion and same approach. She’s very friendly and is very good working with people. She believes in the mission and we consider ourselves lucky. She already has a head start (from serving on the board).

“Because Kara is taking over, I have no problem walking away and don’t have to worry. The only think I have to worry about now is me.”


Muskegon-based company acquires six area Pet Supplies Plus stores

A West Michigan group announced Tuesday it has purchased five Pet Supplies Plus stores in Grand Rapids and one in Holland.

U.S. Retail, Inc., an ownership group led by West Michigan businessmen Steve Adams, Chad Bush and Aaron Young, finalized the deal Monday night, according to a news release. U.S. Retail is based in Muskegon.

The Grand Rapids-area Pet Supplies Plus stores purchased by the group are located at 3593 Alpine NW, 6159 Kalamazoo SE, 3110 28th SE, 2033 28th SW (Wyoming) and 4920 Wilson SW (Grandville). In addition, the Holland store at 12579 Felch Road now is owned by Adams’ company.

“We are excited to add to our company the West Michigan Pet Supplies Plus stores,” Adams, CEO of U.S. Retail, said in the news release. “We believe that we will be able to successfully grow these stores as we invest in expertise and customer engagement training that has defined our culture in our other stores around the country.”

U.S. Retail now operates 20 Pet Supplies Plus stores nationwide and plans to open two new stores in the Dallas/Fort Worth area next year, the release said. The group began operations with its Pet Supplies Plus store in Appleton, Wis., in 1996.

The latest acquisition makes U.S. Retail the largest franchisee in the Livonia-based Pet Supplies Plus company, with approximately 400 employees. Pet Supplies Plus has 260 stores across the U.S.

BISSELL turns your love of pets and Pinterest into donations for shelter animals

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and leave it to the BISSELL Pet Foundation to find a way to give to shelter pets in the United States.

BISSELL Homecare Inc. announced this week it has launched an online fundraising campaign through BPF to raise $50,000 for shelter animals in need.

The campaign is called “Pinning for Pets” and will run through Nov. 30. It combines people’s love of Pinterest with raising funds. If you’re already using Pinterest, it’s pretty simple to contribute: Create a virtual pinboard showing support for homeless pets and submit it through BISSELL’s Facebook page.

I had not participated/signed up for Pinterest, but I have many friends who love it. And when I saw I could help shelter animals through this campaign by BISSELL, well, I signed up! I haven’t yet created my pinboard (I’m just learning about this, after all), but you bet I’ll be participating.

For every pinboard posted, BISSELL Homecare Inc. will contribute to BPF, which will then donate $10 to the Petfinder Foundation. Grants to Petfinder Foundation will go to Rescue U, the group that rehabilitates animal shelters around the country.

Rescue U spent a week at Humane Society of West Michigan this summer to help spiff up the place.  Aside from cosmetic and some structural improvements, Rescue U created a play/training area for dogs and installed turf in the outdoor dog runs, replacing the crushed stone pebbles that often became too hot and painful for dogs’ feet in the summer.

“As longtime advocates for pet adoption, we know animal shelters and rescue groups play a vital role in creating a second chance for homeless pets, and they often have extremely limited resources to provide the necessary care needed until these pets are adopted,” Cathy Bissell, founder of BPF and director of corporate affairs for BISSELL, said in a press release announcing the campaign.

“By simply creating a Pinning for Pets board, everyone has the opportunity to support shelters and better the welfare of homeless animals. However, the goal of this program is not just to raise funds — it’s also to raise awareness about the vast number of adoptable pets living in shelters across the country. Ultimately, we want to see more homeless pets welcomed into their forever homes, but we believe they deserve a comfortable place until that home finds them.”

BISSELL also is giving back through the purchase of its products. For every new BISSELL pet product purchased and activated online at, BISSELL will donate $1, $5 or $10 to the BISSELL Pet Foundation. And pet product purchases on  through the end of the year will net between $2 and $20 — double its normal donation — for the BISSELL Pet Foundation.

For information on the complete line of BISSELL pet products, cleaning tips and more, visit the online Pet Lovers Community at If you want more information about the BISSELL Pet Foundation, check out their site at

Those who participate in the Pinning for Pets event will be entered into weekly prize drawings for a chance to win various pet clean-up products, as well as a $250 donation to their local shelter. Visit to join the campaign!

Saturday in GR sure to be the cat’s meow and howling good time

Kiddies and kitties, canines and comedy … what’s not to love? Help spread the word about a couple of fundraising events being held this weekend that benefit pets and their owners.

First up is the “Catabulous Cat Show” for kids and cats. The event is being presented by C-SNIP, the Humane Society of West Michigan and the Cook Arts Center. The FREE cat friendly event is for children in grades K through 6 and takes place Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Cook Arts Center, 644 Grandville Ave. SW in Grand Rapids.

Kids are invited to show off their cats and participate in cat-related events and arts & crafts. Prizes will be awarded for best decorated cat carrier, best cat story, best cat portrait, best cat name and several other categories. Cat carriers should be decorated at home prior to the event, while materials will be supplied on site for other contests.

Judges for the various contests are WZZM-13’s Jennifer Pascua, WGVU Morning Show’s Shelley Irwin and Grand Rapids community police officer Sue Clare.

Everyone who attends the event will receive a goody bag filled with cat toys, treats and important information about cat care. All children must be accompanied by a responsible adult and all cats must be in a secure cat carrier. Carriers are available through C-SNIP.

Not only will kids get a chance to show off at the cat show, they’ll also learn about responsible pet ownership, including the importance of spaying and neutering.

Pre-registration is requested, so contact C-SNIP by calling 616-455-8220 ext 112. For more information on the event, check out C-SNIP’s website.

Saturday night is sure to be a howling good time at Hubs Inn, 1645 Leonard NW in Grand Rapids. A comedy show and silent auction will benefit Hearts of Hope Dog Rescue. The silent auction starts at 7 p.m. and the comedy show begins at 8.

Comedians Jim Hollister, Russell Cairns and Sean Hunter will be on hand to entertain guests. Tickets are just $10 and can be purchased through the Hearts of Hope website or at the door. Email for more information.

More and more, community involvement and attendance at these types of events goes a long way toward keeping non-profit organizations afloat. If you can spare the time, please make an effort to support these events that benefit the animals and their owners.