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.
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.
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.”