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.






Kent County Animal Shelter gets out the vote, qualifies for ASPCA/Rachael Ray $100K Challenge

The Kent County Animal Shelter cleared the first hurdle in the ASPCA/Rachael Ray $100K Challenge, finishing 27th in the event’s qualifying heat. KCAS needed to garner enough online votes to make the top 50 and have a shot at the contest’s several monetary rewards, including the $100,000 grand prize.

Pistol Pete, a 4-year-old Jack Russell terrier, is available for adoption at the Kent County Animal Shelter. Pistol Pete, who weighs almost 14 pounds, is a typical Jack Russell, full of energy and intelligence. Pete is a very active dog and will benefit from having an active owner that is willing to crate train and take him to training classes after the adoption. He'll do best in a home without cats. (KCAS photo)

The Grand Rapids-based shelter finished third in its North Central Division with 10,350 votes in the qualifying portion, which ran from April 5-16. The Humane Society of Central Washington, based in Yakima, Wash., was the overall leader with 33,989 online votes.

“I’ll take 27th out of 104 shelters any day,” said Carly Luttmann, program supervisor for KCAS. “It’s awesome. We’re thrilled.”

Now, the real work begins. To earn prize money in the Challenge, shelters must “save” 300 more dogs, puppies, cats and kittens from Aug. 1  to Oct. 31, than it did the previous year. A save, or live exit, according to contest rules, is defined as animals who leave a shelter through adoption (including on-site, mobile, satellite and event adoptions), alternative placements (transfers to other facilities or placements with programs such as law enforcement) and return-to-owner (RTO) from the shelter, including RTO by animal control officers in the field.

Only saved animals that represent an increase over the previous year for that month will count toward the Challenge goal. For KCAS to meet the Challenge goal, it will need to total at least 823 saved animals during the three-month contest, an increase of 300 over those same months last year.

“We’re into the Challenge and now we have to creatively brainstorm to find ways to save an additional 300 animals,” Luttmann said. “That’s a significant increase from 2011, so we have to get busy being creative. If anything, though, the qualifying votes have proven we can get the word out and get the community fired up. That’s great for us. We now have to find other ways to spread the word around.”

Those looking to adopt a pet should keep in mind that  August is quite a ways off, and there are plenty of pets in the shelter who need homes now.

Luttmann said it’s likely KCAS will offer adoption specials during the three-month period and possibly discounts on adoptions if her agency can find funding to support such an effort. Last fall, Vicky’s Pet Connection sponsored half the cost of feline adoptions, allowing KCAS to offer “$5 Feline Fridays,” for cat adoptions.

“We’ll do some brainstorming, and it will be a collaboration between the animal shelter staff, the health department administration and other organizations like Vicky’s,” Luttmann said. “We’re fired up to get their ideas. We figure the more creative energy we have and the more we think outside the box, the chances are we’ll come up with some awesome ideas.”

A simple way for the community to help in the effort, aside from adopting a dog or cat from KCAS during the contest period, is to help the shelter increase its return-to-owner count. Having your pet microchipped (KCAS offers $20 walk-in microchipping) so it can be returned if it gets lost would go a long way toward that goal. Likewise, making sure your dog is licensed, as required by law, can make a big difference.

“We need to get the word out about our microchipping program… that would help a lot with reclaims,” Luttmann said. “And with only 18 percent of our target audience complying as far as dog licenses, we have huge room for improvement there. If a dog is licensed, our animal control officers can get it right back to the owner without having to bring it into the shelter.

“We would much rather make contact with the owner than impound a dog at the shelter.”


Give a daily click to help Kent County Animal Shelter in ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge

Want to help shelter animals in Kent County but don’t have the time to volunteer or the money to donate? Don’t let that stop you.

A simple click of the mouse over the next 11 days can do a world of good for the dogs and cats at the Kent County Animal Shelter. From noon today until April 16, KCAS is participating in the first round of the ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge.

KCAS, one of 108 shelters nationwide participating and one of only three in Michigan, needs the support — make that votes — of West Michigan in the qualifying round to advance to the Challenge. To help get KCAS make the top 50 in the qualifying heat and get to the Challenge, click here or go to and scroll down to Kent County Animal Shelter. Voting started at noon today and continues through April 16.

Please note that you will need to enter your email address ONCE and will be sent a confirmation email. You’ll need to click on the confirmation in order to vote. Once you do that, you are set to vote once per day until April 16 without having to be confirmed each time.

If KCAS gets enough votes to make it into the top 50 in the qualifying heat, it will then be “challenged” to save at least 300 more cats, kittens, dogs and puppies from August to October this year than in those same three months of 2011.

The shelter that shows the biggest increase in the number of lives saved will win the $100,000 grand prize, courtesy of the ASPCA and philanthropist/animal advocate/television star Rachael Ray.

Even if it doesn’t win the grand prize, KCAS will have a shot to win other much-needed monetary prizes:

  • $25,000 to the shelter with the second greatest increase in lives saved
  • $25,000 to the shelter that does the best job of engaging its community
  • $20,000 to the contestants that increase lives saved the most in their divisions
  • $10,000 to the contestants that increase percentage of lives saved the most in their divisions
  • $5,000 to every contestant that increases lives saved by at least 300 animals.

Carly Luttmann, KCAS program supervisor, said “saving” an animal by $100K Challenge definition can be done in several ways. If an animal is adopted from KCAS, transferred to another facility (and adopted from there), reclaimed by their owner or reclaimed in the field (returned to owners by animal control officers), it will be considered a “saved” animal.

Chow is a 2-year-old neutered male and he's available for adoption at the Kent County Animal Shelter. And, he's trained! Thanks to clicker training, he can give a "high five" on command and is learning to sit and "sit pretty." (KCAS photo)

Only saved animals that represent an increase over the previous year for that month will count toward the Challenge goal. KCAS last August had 37 adoptions, 43 reclaimed animals and 70 transfers (150 total). This August, 151 saved animals would count as only 1 on the Challenge dashboard (the increase over August 2011).

The total saved animals at KCAS for September last year was 189, while October was 184. To meet the Challenge goal of increasing by 300 saved animals, the animal shelter will need to total at least 823 saved animals from August through October.

Luttmann said she is confident her staff will come up with some innovative ways to get people in the doors and increase their saved animal numbers. But, first things first, she warned.

“We have to get in first … we have to get the votes,” Luttmann said. “People can vote every day, and it’s important they understand they’ll get that email from ASPCA to validate their email address. They have to reply to that in order to vote.”

While Luttmann would love to win $100,000 — or any amount — for KCAS, she sees the bigger picture.

“To me, it’s more about getting the word out about our adoption program so people realize they can adopt pets from the animal shelter,” Luttmann said. “This is something fun and exciting, to utilize social media to get the word out a little more. It’s super easy, and any money we do win will be used to bolster the programs we have — adoption, spay/neuter and community awareness of responsible pet ownership — to make things better.

“The real winners will be the critters. We can get more people to know that we’re seriously committed to placing animals in new homes.”