West Michigan happenings: Humane society up for ‘Grand’ prize via ArtPrize

ArtPrize isn’t the only thing going on in West Michigan these days, but there’s no question it’s the biggest event in town. Aside from the animal-related art (there are some cool exhibits for animal lovers to check out), one area animal advocacy group, the Humane Society of West Michigan, has its paws in the prize as well.

HSWM was selected as one of three non-profit organizations (Kids’ Food Basket and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks are the others) competing for proceeds netted from a $25,000 necklace, “The Grand,” entered as an ArtPrize exhibit.

The non-profit receiving the most online votes will receive 80 percent of the proceeds from the eBay auction of the necklace. The other two organizations will split the other 20 percent.

So far, HSWM is off to a spectacular start with 57 percent of the vote! To vote for HSWM or one of the other non-profits, go to grandrapidsgem.com and click … yes, it’s that easy! You can vote once per day until Oct. 8, so tell your friends.

For those who want to see the necklace in person, it’s on display at ArtPrize venue Craft Revival. Photos of the necklace, which include icons of the city of Grand Rapids, also accompany a story on MLive.com.

There are a few other events happening around west Michigan, so be sure to check them out, too.


Harborfront Dog Wash: From 1 to 4 p.m. at the Harborfront Hospital for Animals parking lot, 807 W. Savidge, Spring Lake. In the event of inclement weather, the dog wash will move indoors! Also includes a bake sale. A suggested $10 donation will benefit Love Inc. and HHFA friends Jim and Pam Koop and Brenda Blahnik. All dogs get a bandana and a treat once they ‘re spiffed up!


The Dushanes benefit concert: Next Friday, the popular local alternative country band is putting on a show to benefit the Bellwether Harbor animal shelter and training facility in Fremont. The event is from 5:30 to 10 p.m. at Bellwether, 7645 West 48th St. in Fremont. Tickets are $35 in advance or $40 at the gate. Food provided by Smokin’ Good Time BBQ. For tickets, call 231-924-9230. Please note Bellwether’s hours on their website, bellwetherharbor.org.


ASPCA/Rachael Ray $100K Challenge: Kent County Animal Shelter director Carly Luttmann reported a problem with their drive to “save” 300 more animals during the three-month Challenge than last year: KCAS keeps running out of adoptable kittens! It’s a great problem to have. Luttmann’s organization has adopted out 181 dogs and cats so far in the Challenge, which began Aug. 1 and runs through Oct. 31. That’s a 235 percent increase over the same period last year. They’ve “saved” a total of 377, including animals from KCAS transported to other facilities and adopted out as well as found animals returned to their owners via animal control officers. To check their progress and see pictures of all of the pets who found forever homes through the event, go to the official site, ICPawz.com or visit the IC Pawz Facebook page. Please note that IC Pawz is the official site of KCAS on Facebook. A Kent County Animal Shelter page has been created but is not part of the organization.

ArtPrize: There are a few exhibits that feature animals, including one I recently wrote about, Kent Ambler’s Running Dogs. Another exhibit worth checking out is Aimee Brumleve’s “Steps Toward Independence.” Brumleve used puppies from Paws with a Cause, the national organization headquartered here in Michigan that trains assistance dogs nationally for people with disabilities, to create the painting. Brumleve is the national breeding coordinator for PAWS, which encourages independence for people with disabilities by providing a lifetime of support with PAWS dogs.


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.


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.


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.


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.”


Trouble casting vote for Kent County Animal Shelter in ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge? Remember, patience is a virtue

Voting in the ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge got under way Thursday, and the Kent County Animal Shelter currently is in 25th place, garnering 439 votes on Day 1.

The contest so far has not been without its glitches. When voting opened at noon Thursday, the servers were overwhelmed and folks received error messages. I cast my vote at www.votetosavelives.org around 2 p.m., and it went smoothly, so those glitches were worked out, apparently.

However, voters likely are experiencing more frustration if they tried to vote for KCAS (click here to go directly to their entry and vote) this morning. When I tried, I received an automated bounce-back message that said I already had voted today, and to try again tomorrow.

I contacted Lisa LaPlante, Marketing and Communications Manager at the Kent County Health Department (which oversees KCAS) about the issue, and she immediately contacted ASPCA.

She received a response that said while it wasn’t planned that way, the voting system was programmed for 24-hour rollover versus calendar day for the “vote once per day” rule. ASPCA, which was unaware until Thursday evening it had been set up that way, is working to get that changed as soon as possible.

Until that problem is ironed out, you’ll get that bounce-back message. If that happens, please wait a full 24 hours from your vote on Thursday to cast your vote again today. Hopefully the issue will get straightened out before too many voters give up.

Yes, it’s a pain. I wanted to vote first thing in the morning but now will have to wait. But I urge you to be patient … the animals at KCAS need the support.



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 challenge.aspcapro.org/contestants 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.”