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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rescued dogs and puppies from South available at HS West Michigan

hswm puppies 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New west Michigan animal welfare alliance debuts Saturday at Grand Rapids event

A terrific event is happening on Saturday that will benefit animals in need all over west Michigan.

Thanks to a collaborative group of animal welfare advocates, shelter animals in west Michigan will have a better chance at finding a loving home.

Thanks to a collaborative group of animal welfare advocates, shelter animals in west Michigan will have a better chance at finding a loving home.

The Subaru of America “Share the Love” event takes place at Delta Subaru, 6025 28th Street in Grand Rapids, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Subaru of America has joined with several charities, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, to donate $250 from the purchase or lease of every new Subaru. The buyer can designate which of the participating charities, including ASPCA, gets the donation.

But Saturday’s event is about more than just getting a slick new Subaru. It also marks the “coming out party,” if you will, of the West Michigan Network of Animal Protection. The WMNAP is a collaboration of six area animal welfare organizations working to increase pet adoptions and put an end to pet overpopulation and euthanasia through education, advocacy and spaying/neutering of animals. The six organizations forming WMNAP currently represent care for 95 percent of west Michigan’s homeless pet population.

Many in west Michigan already are familiar with the organizations that make up WMNAP: Kent County Animal Shelter, Humane Society of West Michigan, Community Spay and Neuter Initiative Partnership (C-SNIP), Vicky’s Pet Connection, Carol’s Ferals and Reuben’s Room Cat Rescue. The groups began meeting in late 2011 and WMNAP has been busy planning throughout 2013. It was awarded a $5,000 capacity building grant from the Dyer-Ives Foundation in May.

As part of Saturday’s festivities, WMNAP and Delta Subaru have created an off-site adoption event at the Grand Rapids dealership. If you’ve been thinking of getting a new dog or cat for the holidays, come by and meet some of the shelter animals available.  There also will be free pet ID tagging, dog licensing and appointments for low-cost spay and neuter.

Attendees also can help “Stuff the Subaru Outback” with donated pet food and supplies for homeless pets under the care of WMNAP partners.

The logo for the new group dedicated to helping animals in west Michigan.

The logo for the new group dedicated to helping animals in west Michigan.

If you’ve had interaction with any of the organizations involved in WMNAP, you no doubt are aware of the struggles they face every day. By joining forces, the groups can brainstorm new ideas, share resources and simply help one another out. West Michigan is fortunate to have such a dynamic and dedicated group working on behalf of the homeless animals in our area.

“Nearly 10,000 pets are still entering the two largest shelters servicing our community each year,” Jennifer Self-Aulgur of HSWM said in a news release. “The bleak reality for these animals is that there simply are not resources to find all of them a home. In 2012, positive outcomes were achieved for 43 percent of the animals entering the shelters.  Working together and sharing new and innovative ideas is the only way we will be able to help solve the problem of pet overpopulation and homeless pets in our community.”

I urge you to take the time to stop by the event Saturday. You can meet the folks behind the WMNAP, discuss how you can be a part of their efforts and help the homeless animals of west Michigan. Don’t forget to bring some dog or cat food to “Stuff the Subaru Outback,” which has a direct impact on our homeless cats and dogs.

Teaching the next generation about shelter animals through photography

Kimberly Garrett poses with her photograph from the collaboration with HSWM and WMCAT. The dog she photographed for the exhibit has since been adopted.

Kimberly Garrett poses with her photograph from the collaboration with HSWM and WMCAT. The dog she photographed for the exhibit has since been adopted.

By teaching youth about responsible pet ownership and exposing them to the life of shelter animals, Jen Self-Aulgur is hopeful the lessons will resonate as the youth become young adults.


Mikal Pichot captured this image of a cat with stunning green eyes.

Mikal Pichot captured this image of a cat with stunning green eyes.

Self-Aulgur, the director of education and community programs at Humane Society of West Michigan, reaches more than 5,000 children and teens annually through visits to classrooms, community programs and the many week-long and “mini” camps HSWM conducts throughout the year.

“Education is the key to anything,” Self-Aulgur said. “If we want animals to stop going to shelters and being euthanized, we need to do it through education and reach the generation of future pet owners. Getting them excited about being advocates for animals is what drives me.”

A recent outreach program was on display at HSWM last week, and the results will be on permanent display at the shelter’s facility in Walker. HSWM teamed up with West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology on a project with inner city youth enrolled in the WMCAT Teen Arts program.

The kids, of high school age, made several visits to HSWM, cameras in tow. Their months-long assignment was to capture animals in the shelter environment, showing through photographs the daily life of dogs, cats and even bunnies who spend their days in kennels, awaiting adoption.

The WMCAT project required several trips to HSWM since animals don't exactly "pose" for photos.

The WMCAT project required several trips to HSWM since animals don’t exactly “pose” for photos.

Dennis Grantz, the lead photography instructor at WMCAT, attended last week’s reception with the students, whose work was unveiled. Most of the photographs were presented on a slide show, while 10 of them were matted and framed for permanent exhibit at the humane society.

Grantz said he had no trouble getting students to enroll in the photography class at WMCAT once they learned the project involved animals. In the past, the class has done “day in the life” projects with various other subjects, including the police department.

“Any time we can involve youth at a level where they can see what day-to-day life is here and what the animals experience is great, but this was an opportunity for them to show that through their photographs,” Self-Aulgur said.

The WMCAT students captured daily life -- and soulful eyes -- of shelter animals awaiting adoption at the humane society.

The WMCAT students captured daily life — and soulful eyes — of shelter animals awaiting adoption at the humane society.

“The quality of the photographs is better than I could imagine gives us a lasting display.”

To find out more about WMCAT, check out their website, If you’re interested in having Self-Aulgur come to your school or organization to talk about responsible pet ownership or other programs at HSWM, email her at or call her at (616) 791-8066.

Those outside of West Michigan can contact their local humane society or animal shelter to learn about humane education programs in your area.



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.


Rescued Jack Russells arrive in West Michigan, prep for adoption

Crates of Jack Russells arrive via the ASPCA truck at Kent County Animal Shelter on Wednesday.

Crates of Jack Russells arrive via the ASPCA truck at Kent County Animal Shelter on Wednesday.


The Jack Russell terriers rescued from a suspected puppy mill operation in Lake City arrived at the Kent County Animal Shelter and Humane Society of West Michigan this afternoon.

The ASPCA’s Animal Cruelty Investigation Disaster Response truck pulled into KCAS around 1:30 p.m. and unloaded 15 Jack Russells. Six additional dogs, also JRTs, were then transported to HSWM. No Shiba Inus, also rescued from the puppy mill, were brought to West Michigan.

Dr. Laurie Wright, staff veterinarian at KCAS, said the dogs are in good shape, given what they’re going through. Some dogs had vomit and diarrhea in their travel crates and were given baths upon arrival.

“Most of the dogs are a little bit stressed because they’ve had a long car ride, but they’re really in pretty good physical condition,”  Wright said. “One I just processed had some evidence of flea dirt,  but no fleas. The ASPCA had already pretreated everybody, and  they’re all vaccinated heartworm tested, microchipped, fecal tested and dewormed, so we’re basically just getting them to the point where we can get them settled comfortably.

“They’ll get reassessed probably in the next 24 to 48 hours and we’ll see how they’re settling in. The bandanas you see us putting on them are sprayed with a pheromone to help calm them down. The bandanas aren’t just for cuteness, but also for de-stressing.”

Carly Luttmann, adoption program supervisor at KCAS, said the Jack Russells could be ready to be adopted as early as tomorrow.

“I think we need to do more behavior assessments on everybody tomorrow morning just to see how they’re going to fit in our adoption program, but I anticipate we’ll be ready to have them available,” Luttmann said.

The KCAS dogs all have familiar temporary names to anyone who follows the Detroit Tigers. They’re named after Tigers players and manager Jim Leyland.

“Our marketing and media manager, Lisa LaPlante, came up with Tigers’ players names,” Luttmann said. “It’s always a challenge to name a big group of dogs that comes in at once.”

Because there was just one male dog in the group of 15 at KCAS, Luttmann’s staff had to come up with solutions for the females.

“(The Tigers) have masculine names, so we had a to change a few things,” she said. “For instance, we changed Victor Martinez to Victoria M. We had to get a little creative.”

The dogs at HSWM will undergo behavioral testing before going up for adoption. Nicole Cook, marketing director at HSWM, said the dogs appear to have better temperaments than her staff expected, but they definitely are a bit fearful.

In addition, one HSWM dog is heartworm positive and another has a heart murmur. Cook said a grant from ASPCA will be used for medical treatment on those dogs, and said they should be fine with treatment. There’s no timetable for the adoption availability of the dogs in HSWM’s care.






Five more puppy mill dogs headed to West Michigan

I received word today that in addition to the 20 dogs slated to arrive at Kent County Animal Shelter,  five other dogs from the suspected puppy mill bust in Lake City, Mich., will be headed to the Humane Society of West Michigan.

Five dogs rescued from a suspected puppy mill in Lake City will arrive at Humane Society of West Michigan today, where they'll work with behavior specialists until they're ready for adoption. (Roscommon County Animal Shelter photo)

Five dogs rescued from a suspected puppy mill in Lake City will arrive at Humane Society of West Michigan today, where they’ll work with behavior specialists until they’re ready for adoption. (Roscommon County Animal Shelter photo)

A press release from HSWM said the five dogs are the last remaining from the more than 150 dogs seized and are the toughest to place, according to the ASPCA, because of their behavior challenges. The ASPCA worked in conjunction with law enforcement officials to find temporary shelter for the Jack Russell terriers and Shiba Inus rescued from the suspected puppy mill.

The HSWM release said the five dogs headed their way today are fearful and unsocialized and some suffer from medical issues, including heartworm and a heart murmur.

“We have a fantastic behavior specialist and veterinarian on staff who are ready and skilled to help in dire circumstances like this,” Trudy Ender, HSWM Executive Director, said in the release.  “We are pleased to be able to help these dogs and give them the care and attention they deserve.”

When the dogs arrive at HSWM, they will immediately get medical care and begin working with the behavior staff to acclimate them. The dogs will be evaluated upon arrival and will be placed up for adoption when they are ready for their new “forever” home, HSWM said.

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?