Archive for February, 2012
I’ve been thinking lately of how Wishbone is like the story of the little engine that could. Just a little more than three years ago we were a brand new shiny organization with lots of hopes and dreams but untested. When Allegan county asked for help to run their shelter other organizations said “no, the problem is too big”. But when Wishbone was approached, perhaps in our naivete’, we said “We — think — we — can”.
So from a slow start three years ago, we huffed and puffed our way up the hill. Many times along the way we wanted to quit when the grade seemed impossibly steep. But the mantra “We — think — we can”, kept us going.
Well, as 2011 winds down, I’m here to tell you we can. For sure, we have many more steep grades to climb, but we can face them with confidence. Consider these numbers.
1. In 2011 we re-homed a record breaking 546 dogs out of the shelter. By comparison that number exceeds the 2010 numbers of any other shelter along the west shore community from Muskegon down to Berrien counties. ( Their 2011 numbers will not be published until next summer ).
2. From a pitiful 15 cats in 2008 prior to our arrival, numbers skyrocketed in 2011, re-homing 482 cats & kittens. As with dogs, that number exceeds the 2010 numbers of any other shelter along the west shore with the single exception of Harbor Humane which re-homed an impressive 568 cats in 2010.
That is an astounding achievement for our little shelter group and tiny budget. Our hats need to come off to the adoption team of Karen, Josh, Angel, Tammy, Julie, Amber, and Carrie, who have worked tirelessly to photograph and promote pets, and organize the adoption and transport of so many cats and dogs.
On the medical front we have made huge gains as well. Our medical program is in full swing. With the help of Cindy Walker’s vocational vet tech students from the Allegan Tech Ctr., John and Shelly, our licensed vet tech volunteers, we now vaccinate all incoming animals and provide heartworm and/or FIV/FeLV tests prior to adoption. And if all goes as planned, we could start seeing spay-neuter services performed at the shelter by 2nd Qtr 2012.
Health at the shelter has never been higher. Animals are well fed, exercised when possible, and the kennel areas are kept clean by the tireless efforts of Josh, and the volunteers and trustee crews he directs on a daily basis. Thanks Josh, I know it’s exhausting work. We’re working on more staffing for 2012 !
Volunteer participation at the shelter has ballooned too. Through the efforts of Mike, Sara and Shalee, we now have regular volunteer orientation classes at the shelter. We’ll close this year with a roster of 73 volunteers! ..another record.
And of course, this is just Wishbones’s shelter work. Wishbone has made huge strides this year in our community service work through the Pet Food Pantry, community spay-neuter services, and most recently, public education programs. Watch for the Wishbone newsletter in January for stories about those programs and their 2011 achievements.
So.. thank you all for your tremendous commitment and efforts. Imagine what we will achieve for 2012 !
Wishbone Pet Rescue
Allegan Count Animal Shelter
Studies have shown that how one treats animals is a direct reflection of how we treat each other. For that very reason, it is vital that we teach our children the importance of kindness, compassion and respect for animals and instill these values at a young age.
Animals, especially pets, are an important part of our lives and are regarded as family members. Business articles indicate that we spend around 51 billion dollars on our pets annually on everything from extensive medical care to daycare to gourmet diets. About 71 million homes in the U.S. have a pet(s). Yet, our shelters are still bursting at the seams with homeless cats and dogs. Between 4-5 million homeless animals are killed annually. Puppy mills, animal neglect and abuse, including dog fighting, thrives. Animal welfare community outreach is key to educating our communities and sharing the programs and resources that are available to families and their pets.
Having been involved in various aspects of animal welfare, including community outreach, in Chicago for many years, I am proud to bring my knowledge and experience to Allegan County. I am very excited to announce the launching of our official school community outreach program “Kids, Critters and Compassion”.
The program is approximately one hour long, is geared mainly to 3rd to 6th graders and is supported by a colorful power point presentation. At our recent visit to Glenn Elementary School, even the K-2nd graders were participating as enthusiastically as their older schoolmates.
It is very important that our kids learn about pet care and responsibility for a pet’s entire life span. We focus on the importance of their daily needs and bring awareness to our pet’s feeling and emotional capabilities, learning that their needs aren’t so different than ours. Those of us who own pets are well aware of their companionship and the comfort they bring to us in so many ways.
For many reasons, including health and behavioral, spaying or neutering is very positive for our pets. It is the best way to effectively reduce the over-population of unwanted cats and dogs in our communities and animal shelters. Many of the children already know the meaning of getting a pet “fixed”. Along with visuals including cardboard cut-outs of dogs/ cats showing the high numbers, a simple explanation that this is a quick operation to stop our dogs and cats from having puppies and kittens gets the message across well.
Safety around our pets at home is discussed to prevent dog and cat bites or scratches. More importantly, we discuss safety on the street when meeting a dog with an owner and safety around stray animals, especially dogs. Many of the children live in rural areas and can easily be confronted by a dog roaming free, with no collar or owner. Demonstrating to the kids how to behave in situations like this is very important to prevent them from suffering serious injuries from a dog attack. All the kids participate in this and it’s fun to watch how enthusiastic they are about stepping up and demonstrating these techniques to the rest of the class.
Studies by the American Humane Society clearly document what is known as “The Link” – the connection between animal abuse and child abuse, domestic abuse, elder abuse and violence in general. In very simple language, we talk about how wrong and cruel animal abuse is. It is important to let a responsible adult know if they witness cruelty to a person or an animal so the proper authorities can be contacted. Dog fighting is rampant throughout the U.S., including western Michigan. It is surprising and disturbing that our young students are already familiar with this activity. It is vital that this topic is covered, the content of which is age appropriate, with no graphic visuals. It’s wrong, it’s cruel, and it’s a crime.
We conclude with the kids getting to meet and pet the animals we bring along with us, including Sandy’s wonderful therapy dog, Emmy Susu and a few kitties from the shelter. The kids can’t get enough of the animals and they all want to hold and cuddle them.
We leave all the students and teachers with packets of materials including information on all of Wishbone’s community programs along with literature on various animal topics to share with their families.
It’s very rewarding to work with these young children and from my personal experience, they all take away something from our visit. For some, it makes a huge difference in their attitude toward animals. Their enthusiasm to ask and answer questions is very heartwarming, as is their desire to share stories of their own pets.
We plan to start off the New Year by reaching out to more elementary and middle schools in the county.
If anyone is interested in volunteering with us or knows of a school that may be interested in having us present to them, I’d love to hear from you.
Lynda Stein /Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org/312-286-6354