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.


Now’s the purrfect time for your pet’s photo with Santa

I love getting Christmas cards from friends that include photos of the family, especially if the family members have four legs and wear fur.

Now’s the time to get your pet’s photo taken with Santa in time to send out your holiday cards. A few West Michigan events are being held and will benefit local animal welfare organizations.

If you’re planning to use your family pets as models for your Christmas cards this year, the time is now to get those photos taken. West Michigan businesses are hosting pet photos with Santa events in the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, the Future Voices Kids Club is putting on a pet photos with Santa event at Must Love Dogs Boutique & Spa at 211 Washington in downtown Grand Haven. Future Voices Kids Club was started by Jodi Jarvis-Therrian (of Memory Stones by Jodi) and meets monthly in Muskegon.

The club educates kids on all things pets, including animal welfare and responsible pet ownership, brings in guest speakers and also conducts fund-raisers to help pets in West Michigan.

Wednesday’s photos with “the real” Santa takes place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Photos are just $5 for a picture to be emailed or $10 for an emailed photo and a 5×7 to be delivered to Must Love Dogs for pickup. If you bring a bag of pet food to donate, emailed photos are free, and an emailed photo and 5×7 will cost just $5. Jarvis-Therrian promises photos will arrive in plenty of time to use for Christmas cards.

Proceeds for the event benefit Pay It Forward Outreach‘s low-income pet clinic, Black Cat low income pet food pantry and Best Pal Animal rescue center.

Both dogs and cats are welcome to the event. Cats should be in carriers and brought to Must Love Dogs’ back door to avoid the stress of hanging out with the dogs!

If you can’t make Wednesday’s photo opportunity in Grand Haven, Shampoochie Pet Grooming and Boutique in Kentwood (4445-B Breton Road SE) is hosting pet photos with Santa on Saturday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

There is no cost for Saturday’s event, but donations are appreciated and will benefit Crash’s Landing and Big Sid’s Sanctuary. Aside from monetary donations, people may donate supplies in need, including: paper towels, 9 Lives or Friskies canned food, Temptations treats, baby wipes, tall kitchen garbage bags, laundry soap and bleach.

Crash’s Landing and Big Sid’s Sanctuary also has pet photos with Santa events scheduled at a couple Pet Supplies Plus locations on Dec. 8 (at 4920 Wilson Ave. store) and 3110 28th Street (near Woodland Mall) on Dec. 9 from noon to 3 p.m. A $5 donation is suggested for each of those.

So get your dog or cat (or maybe even your iguana) spruced up in their reindeer antlers and send your family and friends a holiday card sure to make them howl with laughter. In the process, you’ll be supporting local animal welfare organizations.


Thanks to Rescue U, humane society animals get new digs

Ruby Ender, daughter of HSWM Executive Director Trudy Ender, shows off one of the tunnels on the new agility course at the facility. (Photos by Mary Ullmer)

We tend to joke that there are two seasons in Michigan, winter and construction. It’s clearly construction season, and not just on the roads.

The Humane Society of West Michigan announced recently it had received a $20,000 grant from Petfinder Foundation’s Rescue U for renovations. HSWM has had student volunteers from Grand Valley State University, Central Michigan University, Michigan State University, Grand Rapids Community College and Kettering University (in Flint) at its facility all week to perform the renovations.

A ramp and stairs with a platform (background) also are part of the agility course.

Among the upgrades and new additions to HSWM through the project: installation of recycled turf for the outdoor dog kennels (replacing pea gravel), an agility course for dogs in the fenced-in area behind the kennels and sound baffling in the kennel area that will significantly decrease the noise and create a better environment for the pets and visitors looking to adopt an animal.

Rescue U, started  by Bryna Donnelly in Pennsylvania, teamed with Groupon to raise funds for the dog agility course, which will give the dogs in HSWM’s a fun and stimulating exercise alternative.

The course includes donated tires, painted bright blue and used for agility tunnels, as well as a ramp treated with sand to reduce slippage, stairs with a platform, and weave poles.

Donnelly explained that many shelter dogs, like the three she adopted, aren’t accustomed to stairs and often are frightened of them when they get to their new home. Having shelter dogs work on going up and down stairs on the agility course will help relieve that fear. Likewise, volunteers walking the dogs through the weave poles will get them used to walking on a leash at a comfortable pace while also teaching them to heel.

These dogs will have new activities and more comfortable dog runs while they’re in the care of the humane society and awaiting their new forever home.

The gravel previously used in the dog runs, Donnelly said, was getting too hot for dogs’ pads during the summer months. The turf runs get warm, but not too hot, she said, and it’s more comfortable on the pads as well as the joints as dogs run through the area.

Rescue U completes the project today, which means HSWM animals can soon take advantage of their new digs.

If you’d like to learn more about Rescue U or make a donation to the organization, be sure to check out its website.

Cash for Crash’s

Meanwhile, Crash’s Landing will do a bit of construction of its own. While it didn’t win the $45,000 grand prize in the Erhardt Construction Building Our Community Project — that went to San Juan Diego Academy for structural repairs to its building — Crash’s was third runner-up and will receive a cash donation of $1,500.

Crash’s Landing, a cat rescue group that assists discarded, abused and neglected cats, had hoped to win the top prize to remodel a room at the shelter and turn it into a medical treatment room. Most of the cats (an estimated 85 percent) that Crash’s takes in are sick or injured, and the facility is in need of an on-site treatment room.

While the $1,500 it receives from Erhardt won’t cover the cost of a treatment room, Crash’s Landing no doubt appreciates the donation.


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 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.


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: Check for updates on Crash’s Facebook page.


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.


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.


First-round voting ends this week in Erhardt’s ‘Building Our Community’ contest

I have received a few emails and noticed several Facebook posts asking for my vote in the “Building Our Community” contest. Erhardt Construction is celebrating its 50th Anniversary by joining project partners to give away a construction project and prizes totaling $50,000 to West Michigan non-profit organizations.

Among the 60 non-profits who sought votes in the contest, which began June 18, are four organizations whose mission is to reduce pet overpopulation and promote adoption from shelters and rescues: C-SNIP, Crash’s Landing, Harbor Humane Society and the Humane Society of West Michigan.

Until now, vote totals could be viewed by the public. This week, however, voters will not be able to see which organization is among the leaders. It is the final week of voting, so if you haven’t already, I encourage you to register and vote for your non-profit organization. You may vote once per day.

Press Unleashed has not weighed in on the contest to ask support for any particular organization for good reason. With so many dedicated hard-working non-profits in our community, I can’t possibly single one out.

I think all of those entered, whether related to pets or not, are deserving of the grand prize, $45,000 toward a construction or renovation project. I know all of them struggle to raise that kind of funding, and I know all would put the prize to good use.

The first round of voting ends Friday. On Monday, July 16, the top five vote-getters will be announced. Voting among those top five begins July 23 and continues until Aug. 17. The grand prize winner of the $45,000 toward the construction will be announced Aug. 23.

The other four finalists will receive cash donations: $2,000 for the first runner-up, $1,500 for second runner-up and $1,000 each for the final two finalists.

It’s not too late to vote for your favorite non-profit. And once the top five is announced, it’s my hope you will continue voting, whether your favorite organization is among them or not.

Here’s more information on the animal-related entries, and how they would benefit from the money toward a construction project (be sure to check out more detailed information, including photos and videos, on the Erhardt’s voting page):

C-SNIP (Community Spay/Neuter Initiative Partnership)

C-SNIP, a non-profit spay/neuter clinic, has performed over 88,000 surgeries since its opening providing high quality, low cost spays and neuters for pet owners in the community not able afford to have their pets altered through a private veterinarian. C-SNIP and its rescue partners provide transportation services for clients unable to bring their pets to the clinic for surgery. A GARAGE to provide an enclosed area for the safety of the transported cats and dogs and a safe place for staff to clean as well as a protected area for the vehicles is a real necessity. Presently, the dogs and cats are unloaded at our back door regardless of weather conditions (rain, snow, sleet, extreme heat). Not only does this create a hazard it also presents a safety issue as transported animals could escape from their leashes or carriers during drop-off and loading. Also, staff has to wash, clean, and sterilize crates and carriers every day. The only area available is outside and this is a major hardship especially in the winter and rainy seasons.

 Crash’s Landing

Our greatest need is an addition for a medical treatment room. 85% of the cats we take in are sick or injured. Our founder, veterinarian Dr. Jen Petrovich nurses the cats back to health and then we find them fur-ever homes. An on-site treatment room will allow us to provide top-notch medical care in a hospital-like setting. It will prevent the spread of infection, reduce stress on the cats and decrease medical costs as we serve the community by reducing the numbers of homeless pets in our area.

Harbor Humane Society

 A leaky roof. Structural damage. Pets confined to small spaces. These are all problems facing Harbor Humane Society. But, if fixed, they would allow us to provide more secure and ample housing for the animals in our care, more appropriate quarantine, surgical and recovery areas, and more healthy and adoptable animals to the public at a faster pace. Vote to help us help the animals and build our community together.

Humane Society of West Michigan

Humane Society of West Michigan seeks to improve our cat viewing sanctuary to increase adoptions by creating an environment for our cats that allow them to be happier & healthier. Kittens & cats should have sufficient room to stretch their full body length; a safe hiding place when stressed; freedom from dog view & noise; space to jump, climb & run; resting surfaces; & space for playing with toys. Happy cats provide adopters with social support, stress relief & health benefits.