Cathy Bissell: Blocktail Party’s success will make a difference

Cathy Bissell is convinced the effects of this year’s BISSELL Blocktail Party will be felt for years to come.

Louie, an English bulldog puppy, attended his first Blocktail Party on Wednesday. (Yvonne Reames photo)

Blocktail 2012, held Wednesday on the grounds of Mangiamo! restaurant, set records for both attendance and fundraising, with 800 guests, half as many dogs and close to $200,000 raised for area organizations promoting the prevention of pet overpopulation and adoption from shelters and rescues.

Proceeds of the event benefit the organizations, including the 10 “Party Partners” who already have received $1,000 each, that applied for grants through the BISSELL Pet Foundation.

“I think the organizations are going to feel it (the influx of funding) this year, and the community is going to feel it next year and in the next couple years because there won’t be so many animals in need,” said Bissell, director of corporate affairs for BISSELL Inc. and founder of BPF. “We won’t have quite the stray population because so many of the organizations plan to use the grant for spay and neuter programs. The population will be down.”

Bissell said she was delighted with the makeup of this year’s Blocktail’s crowd, which ranged from dog-crazy children to young 20-somethings to Baby Boomers to elderly.

“We had people of all ages. It ran the gamut,” she said. “I think the 10 party partners meant so much. People of different ages who give to their particular organizations all came out. It was great to have them all together raising money.”

Safe Haven Humane Society in Ionia, one of 10 “party partners,” brought along a yellow Lab and a puggle, both of which are available for adoption. (Yvonne Reames photo)

As has been the case in the seven years of the event, the Blocktail committee sent guests home with a goody bag with items for pets and people. New to the gift bag this year was a full-color program featuring photos, factual information and mission statements of the 10 party partners.

“We wanted to bring awareness to the partners and wanted guests to understand who the party was for and what they do,” Bissell said. “We wanted a piece that people could take home and not throw away, but take home and put on the coffee table and then pick up and read.

“I’ve heard from others, and one person told me they read it from start to finish in bed before they went to sleep that night. That’s what we want, for people to learn about these organizations. Obviously, the BISSELL Pet Foundation is the conduit, but each organization is important and, if someone reads that and their heart goes out to an organization because of that, they might donate to that organization.”

Francesca (aka Frankie), a French Briard, was among several dog breeds represented at Blocktail. (Yvonne Reames photo)

Bissell, well known for her animal advocacy, also saw to it that a card listing the “10 Commandments from a Pet’s Point of View” from author Stan Rawlinson was placed in each goody bag to promote responsible pet ownership. Another card, featuring a thank you to the many vendors that help make Blocktail a success, published information on reputable breeders and warned of puppy mills and the selling of pets through Internet sites and classified advertising.

“We always talk about adopt first,” Bissell said. “But if you choose to purchase a puppy or kitten, make sure it’s from a reputable breeder. People need to be aware: If you can’t see the parents of a dog, you don’t know how that dog has been treated or where it came from. You don’t know if it’s a breeder or a puppy mill. 

“People who go online to get pets don’t realize that puppy mills often disguise themselves as breeders.”


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