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. 

By CINDY FAIRFIELD

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.

KENT COUNTY ANIMAL SHELTER, $41,000

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.

COMMUNITY SPAY NEUTER INITIATIVE PARTNERSHIP (C-SNIP), $30,000

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.

VICKY’S PET CONNECTION, $27,000

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.

HUMANE SOCIETY OF WEST MICHIGAN, $21,600

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.

CAROL’S FERALS, $12,000

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.

CRASH’S LANDING AND BIG SID’S SANCTUARY, $10,000

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 FOUNDATION, $10,000

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.”

SAFE HAVEN HUMANE SOCIETY, $5,000

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 ROOM CAT RESCUE, $4,000

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.”

BELLWETHER HARBOR, $2,050

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, $1,000

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.

 

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.”

 

Update: Hundi, 3-legged dog rescued from neglect, finds her home in time for Christmas

Hundi, the three-legged dog among 10 rescued last month from a neglect situation who became available for adoption yesterday, has found her forever home in time for Christmas.

Mary and Hundi will spend Christmas together. (Photo courtesy IC Pawz)

The 13-year-old Lab/border collie mix, who was featured in the news on Friday (including in Press Unleashed). Hundi was featured on the local television news, where a woman named Mary saw the story.

Mary headed to the Kent County Animal Shelter Saturday morning, spent time with Hundi and ended up adopting her.

A joyful holiday, indeed!

The other dogs from the case are available for adoption at KCAS. A grant from the BISSELL Pet Foundation is paving the way for $82 dog adoptions, which includes vaccines, microchip, spay/neuter and license for 2013.

 

Dogs from neglect case available for adoption at Kent Co. shelter

The Kent County Animal Shelter has announced that 10 dogs taken in from a recent animal cruelty case in Grand Rapids are now ready and available for adoption.

Hundi is a 13-year-old Lab mix who has only three legs. She was saved from a neglect case in Grand Rapids and is now available for adoption.

Because the former owner pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and thus forfeited ownership, KCAS (with the help of Mackenzie’s Animal Sanctuary) was able to save and rehabilitate the dogs, many of whom were underweight, injured and suffering from signs of neglect.

The dogs include two Chihuahuas, two German shepherd mixes, three Doberman pinschers, two Lab/border collie mixes and one long-haired mixed breed dog.  Ages range from 2 years to 13 years old, according to Lisa LaPlante, marketing and communications manager for the Kent County Health Department.

Hundi, a 13-year-old Lab mix, is among the dogs rescued from the animal cruelty case. She is a special case in that she has only three legs. One of her hind legs was amputated previously, LaPlante said in a news release, in an incident unrelated to the neglect situation.

The release said Kent County Animal Control Officers had worked with the former owner for several months, asking her to improve the living conditions for these dogs. In November,  according to LaPlante, it became apparent that KCAS needed to intervene.

The former owner was charged in November with animal cruelty, punishable by up to a year in jail, and failure to license a dog. The guilty plea to the cruelty charge dropped the second charge. The former owner is scheduled to be sentenced next month, the release said.

KCAS took control of the dogs in November. Mackenzie’s assisted, taking in five of the dogs for a week.

Anyone interested in adopting one of the dogs, or any dog at KCAS, can visit the shelter at 740 Fuller NE in Grand Rapids. Thanks to a grant from the BISSELL Pet Foundation, dog adoptions through the end of the year are just $82 and include spay/neuter, all vaccinations, microchip and licensing for 2013.

The Kent County Animal Shelter is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. KCAS will be closed Christmas eve and Christmas day a well as New Year’s day.

 

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.com/savepets, BISSELL will donate $1, $5 or $10 to the BISSELL Pet Foundation. And pet product purchases on bissell.com  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 bissell.com/pets. If you want more information about the BISSELL Pet Foundation, check out their site at bissellpetfoundation.org.

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 Petfinder.com shelter. Visit pinningforpets.com to join the campaign!

Challenge not met, but Kent Co. Animal Shelter a big winner with 300 adopted pets

The Kent County Animal Shelter may not have reached the goal set by the ASPCA and Rachael Ray in the $100K Challenge, but officials at KCAS say they’re thrilled at what the staff did accomplish during the three-month contest period.

This adorable Jack Russell terrier mix was one of 300 pets adopted from the Kent County Animal Shelter during the three-month challenge. (Photo courtesy KCAS)

KCAS was challenged to “save” 300 more animals in the three-month period from Aug. 1 to Oct. 31 in 2012 over last year’s numbers for the same period. Saves included adoptions, field officers returning pets to their owners and owners claiming lost pets at the facility.

Total “saves” for the three months in 2012 was 674, beating last year’s total of 537. That’s a 26 percent increase, but it didn’t quite meet the goal of the challenge.

What surpassed expectations, however, was a 138 percent increase in adoptions from the animal shelter. In all, 300 pets were adopted in three months, beating last year’s total of 126 during the same period.

KCAS earned enough votes in the West Michigan community to qualify for the competition and was one of 50 shelters nation wide competing. The Challenge includes several other categories such as divisional winners and community engagement. Winners of the various monetary prizes will be announced Nov. 30.

KCAS was able to use special pricing on its adoptions, just $50 for dogs and $5 for cats, throughout the contest thanks to a grant from the Bissell Pet Foundation’s Blocktail Party. While the pricing no doubt played a big role in the number of pets adopted, equally important was getting the word out about the animal shelter’s adoption program.

Animal shelter program supervisor Carly Luttmann and her staff worked tirelessly to promote the campaign online through the IC Pawz website and Facebook page, even posting pictures of every adopted pet with its new family.

“This competition brought in dozens of families who had never come to the Kent County Animal Shelter in the past,” Cathy Raevsky, the Administrative Health Officer of the Kent County Health Department, said in a press release. “Our dedicated staff worked incredibly hard to promote adoptions and return lost pets to their owners over the past three months.

 “We are so grateful to the Bissell Pet Foundation for the support they gave us these past few months. The real winners are all of the pets who found homes through this event, as well as the families who found a new friend.”

Lisa LaPlante, marketing and communications director of the health department, said she’s happy to celebrate the “little victories” of the Challenge.

“There are nearly 300 families who adopted a pet during this competition — some had never been to the KCAS,” LaPlante said. “There are 300 pets that are up-to-date on vaccines, spayed or neutered, and microchipped, that if they get lost, there is a much better chance of them being returned to their owner. Our efforts raised the level of visibility of the work the KCAS does every day. We may not have won the Challenge, but we can celebrate these victories.”

LaPlante pointed out that while the competition is done, there still are still many pets at KCAS in need of homes. The shelter is open  from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. Adoptions and visitations end one hour before closing.

For more information, call the shelter at (616) 632-7300 or check them out online at www.accesskent.com/kcas.

 

KCAS announces ICPAWZ campaign to meet $100K Challenge goals

If you’ve seen the ICPAWZ billboards and signs around the Grand Rapids area and wondered what it’s all about, Carly Luttmann of the Kent County Animal Shelter today finally let the cat out of the bag, so to speak.

In fact, Luttmann, KCAS program supervisor, is behind the campaign, which kicks off the organization’s entry in the ASPCA/Rachael Ray $100K Challenge. The animal shelter qualified for the Challenge by finishing 27th out of 108 shelters nationwide during the preliminary voting period earlier this summer.

Now, the real “Challenge” begins. KCAS must “save” 300 more animals from  Aug. 1 through Oct. 31 than it did in that same span last year. A “save” is counted if an animal is adopted from KCAS, or a stray from the field is returned to its owner by KCAS, or an animal transferred to another organization is then adopted from that facility.

KCAS received a big boost to help meet the Challenge. With $41,000 in grant money it received from the BISSELL Pet Foundation, from the profits generated through this year’s successful BISSELL Blocktail Party, the animal shelter is able to offer adoptions of its dogs and cats at significantly reduced rates.

Cat adoptions during the 90-day Challenge are just $5, while families can adopt a dog from      KCAS for just $50, plus the cost of a dog license. All animals will be up to date on vaccinations and spayed and neutered, so if you or a family member or friend is thinking about getting a new pet, doing so from August to the end of October not only saves you money, it also helps KCAS in its effort to win the $100,000 Challenge prize.

KCAS has launched a website, ICPAWZ.com, as well as a Facebook page and Twitter account (@ICPawz) to promote the event and give the public the opportunity to monitor how it’s doing. The public can use the website to follow the progress, see how many pets have been adopted and see photos of pets and families who adopted them for the duration of the contest. People also can view the many adoptable pets at KCAS.

A kickoff celebration with food, fun, prizes and adoption opportunities, sponsored by BISSELL Pet Foundation, takes place Saturday, Aug. 4  from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (last adoption counselor appointment is 3 p.m.), and the public is invited. The event will be held at KCAS, 740 Fuller NE in Grand Rapids.

 

Crash’s Landing, Kent Co. Animal Shelter, Harbor Humane all could use our help

You know what? The world would be a much better place if we all helped each other out just a little more. Sounds pretty simple, but oftentimes opportunities are lost when even one small gesture could make a huge difference.

Taking anywhere from 8 to 30 seconds to vote for a good cause on Facebook, helping an organization or person/pet in need. Signing a petition on change.org or some other cause. Donating when you have a few extra dollars instead of spending it on something frivolous.

Not only do you make someone else feel good, you feel pretty good about being able to help, too.

I bring this up because some events are going on (and coming up) that require action, and because some of our own stepped up to help out others in need.

ERHARDT CONSTRUCTION BUILDING OUR COMMUNITY CONTEST

Crash’s Landing & Big Sid’s Sanctuary is the only pet-related organization to make it to  the top five in Erhardt Construction Building Our Community contest. The top vote-getter for the final round will receive a $45,000 construction project. For those unfamiliar with Crash’s, it’s a cage-free shelter for sick and injured stray cats in Grand Rapids.

Check out the video Crash’s submitted for the contest: Cat Rescue–Crash’s Landing Video for Erhardt Building Our Community Contest

Only one vote per person is allowed in the final round of voting, which started Monday and continues through Aug. 17. You must register to vote, and you’ll be sent a confirmation e-mail after you vote. Note that you must click the link on your confirmation in order for your vote to count!

If Crash’s wins the big prize, it plans to build an on-site medical treatment room for its many cats in need. To register and vote for Crash’s, go to: http://www.erhardtcc.com/community/vote.php. Check for updates on Crash’s Facebook page.

KCAS $100K CHALLENGE KICK-OFF PARTY

The Kent County Animal Shelter made it through the qualifying heat of the ASPCA/Rachael Ray $100K Challenge and now must “save” 300 more animals from Aug. 1 through Oct. 31 than it did for those three months in 2011. A “save” is defined as an adoption, stray animal reclaim to its owner or transfer to another organization that results in an adoption.

To meet its goal, KCAS must save at least 843 animals (300 more than during that period last year). If you or your friends or family have been thinking about a new pet, visit KCAS during the Challenge and help them meet their goal.  

KCAS will have a Challenge Kick-Off Party on Saturday, Aug. 4, featuring extended Saturday adoption hours, free pizza, raffle prizes and demonstrations. The BISSELL Pet Foundation is sponsoring the bash, which runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The last adoption counsels that day are at 3 p.m.

Cat adoptions for the event are just $5, and dog adoptions are just $50 plus the cost of a dog license. Pre-approved adoption applications are highly encouraged for this event to help expedite the adoption process on event day. Go the KCAS adoption program page to download the application by clicking Dog Adoption Survey.

Once the Challenge begins, follow the progress on the Kent County Health Department  Facebook page.

HELPING HARBOR HUMANE SOCIETY

Harbor Humane Society recently sent out a plea for financial assistance from the public. The organization experienced a spike in serious medical conditions of many of its animals and launched an emergency medical campaign to raise $75,000 in public donations.

While it isn’t flush with funds, the Humane Society of West Michigan stepped up to help. HSWM will take in two of Harbor Humane’s dogs who are in great need of medical assistance. One dog has a broken front leg and the other is heartworm positive.

 “Animal welfare is not a single organization’s responsibility.  In order to have the most impact we must collaborate and assist one another whenever possible,” Trudy Ender, HSWM Executive Director, said in a press release.  “Our staff at Humane Society of West Michigan are pleased to shelter these two animals and assist Harbor Humane in this difficult time. “

HSWM is caring for more than 275 animals on its own and couldn’t take in more from Harbor Humane, but is doing what it can by taking a couple of the more severe medical cases.

If you’d like to donate to Harbor Humane’s emergency medical campaign, click here.

 

BISSELL Blocktail Party grants announced: $163,650 shared by recipients

A  whole lot of dogs and cats, and those who care about their well being, are a whole lot happier today. Eleven animal welfare organizations in the Greater Grand Rapids area received word on their BISSELL Blocktail Grant applications, and the dollar amounts they’ll receive are staggering.

Daisy the dachshund was the 2011 “Blockstar” and attended this year’s BISSELL Blocktail Party as well. (Photo/Yvonne Reames)

This year’s BISSELL Blocktail Party, held on June 13 at Mangiamo!, set a record by raising $187,000. More than 800 people attended Blocktail, another record. Proceeds from the event ($163,650 after expenses) benefited the BISSELL Pet Foundation, which then distributed the money to the organizations applying for grants. Included in the event’s expenses were the $1,000 donations made to each of 10 Blocktail “party partners” before the event even took place.

Many of the groups receiving grants couldn’t dream of raising the amount they received from BPF in a single fundraiser. The BISSELL Pet Foundation should be applauded for coming to the aid of these hard-working organizations who are on the front lines fighting pet overpopulation and promoting pet adoption through shelters and rescues.

“The West Michigan community never fails to stand behind a great cause, and this event shows that we believe pets are important, too,” Cathy Bissell, event co-chair and founder of the BISSELL Pet Foundation, said in a news release announcing the final dollar amounts.  “The community really pulled together to make this our best year yet.  We are overwhelmed with appreciation from the outpouring of support.  Every year, local sponsors and donors help to make this a unique event, and this year was no different.  We’re so thankful for everyone’s generosity.”

The Kent County Animal Shelter received a whopping $41,000 grant, while C-SNIP, which offers low-cost spaying and neutering services, received $30,000.

“It’s exicitng to be recognized by BISSELL as the solution to pet overpopulation,” said Pat Schoen, executive director of C-SNIP.  “They’re the first local corporation that has really stepped up to the challenge and has recognized those organizations that are addressing pet overpopulation and adoptions.”

Schoen said $15,000 of C-SNIP’s grant will go toward her organization’s BISSELL Big Paws Fund, which will help offset the cost of spay/neuter surgery for dogs 60 pounds or more. Another $10,000 will go to the community spay/neuter assistance fund for smaller dogs and cats, and the remaining $5,000 will assist rescue organizations who bring dogs and cats to C-SNIP for spay/neuter services.

Schoen said now that C-SNIP has some funding, the challenge is to get people through their doors.

“Today, we had seven no-shows with dogs and 10 no-shows with cats,” she said Monday. “That’s 17 people who had appointments today that didn’t show up. We run on a 12 percent no-show rate. We have the money, now it’s a matter of getting clients in.”

Here’s the breakdown of all 11 BISSELL Blocktail grant recipients and the amount they received, according to BISSELL’s news release:

Kent County Animal Shelter received $41,000 to support their adoption efforts through the upcoming ASPCA and Rachel Ray $100K Challenge that takes place from August to October.  In addition, the grant money will be used to help with spay/neuter costs for stray pets that are being reclaimed by their owners.

Community Spay Neuter Initiative Partnership (C-SNIP) received $30,000 to fund programs aimed at subsidizing sterilization surgeries for low-income families and local rescue groups.

Vicky’s Pet Connection was awarded $27,000 to initiate a community microchip and ID tag program and help support programs that provide care and treatment to “at-risk” animals that are rescued from local shelters.

Humane Society of West Michigan received $21,600 to fund monthly adoption promotions, including subsidies to support low-cost adoption of senior pets, and to support their live-saving efforts with animal transfer and microchipping.

Carol’s Ferals was granted $12,000 to support their TNR (trap-neuter-return) program for feral cat populations and to provide appropriate equipment needed to care for their adoptable cats.

Crash’s Landing and Big Sid’s Sanctuary received $10,000 to support their Humane Education and Adoption Programs and to provide food and supplies for cats in their care.

Mackenzie’s Foundation received $10,000 to purchase needed equipment for a planned on-site veterinary clinic.

Safe Haven Humane Society was awarded $5,000 to create a dog training program for their adopters and to support a free spay/neuter program for female cats and their litters.

Reuben’s Room Cat Rescue received $4,000 to provide care and treatment for cats in their care, with funds targeted to supporting the special needs of senior cats.

Bellwether Harbor was given $2,050 in needed funding to help advance their microchipping program.

MidAmerica Border Collie Rescue received $1,000 to purchase a requested microchip kit and additional microchips for adoptable pets in their care.

Congratulations to all the organizations and a big thank you for all they do for animals.