Archive for March, 2012
Next time somebody tells you there’s nothing wrong with doing a little backyard dog breeding on the side to make a quick dollar, tell they’re wrong. Tell them about Lucky.
Lucky arrived at the Allegan Animal Shelter last week. His owner could not care for him. He is the product of a breeding experiment gone awry. Believe it or not, he is the result of a Rotweiller-Dachshund cross breeding.
And the result ? Lucky is almost completely blind, he is deaf, and has hydrocephalus. The swelling on his brain has affected neurolgic function and development.
We had one of Wishbones veterinary consultants examine him to make a determination whether he has any chance at a life. His diagnosis was Lucky, at 12 weeks old, is too young yet to make a determination. Since he is still developing, it is possible he may yet gain some senses and the swelling on his brain may be reduced.
We are giving Lucky 3-4 weeks and crossing our fingers.
To give him his best chance Lucky needs regular attention and stimulation. He’s living in darkness without sound. Touch and smell, as his only interaction with the world, are extremely important right now.
We are looking for a home to take him in as a foster for a few weeks.
If you have the time and a strong heart to give Lucky a chance, please contact Karen, Wishbone’s Adoption Co-ordinator, immediately at 800-475-0776 and select “Adoptions” or e-mail her at adoptions@wishbonepetrescue.
Identifying potential behavior problems or assessing a dogs temperament is critical to finding the right fit in a new home. Lacking that information can result in high return rates, or potentially releasing an unstable dog to the public.
One of Wishbone’s priorities soon after taking over management of the Allegan County Animal Shelter, was the development of a temperament assessment program.
Enter Leah Will, a Wishbone Pet Rescue volunteer and Allegan Animal Shelter’s new trainer and behavior specialist. Responding to an advertisement in Cats and Dogs Magazine, Leah attended a New Volunteer orientation class in January, and soon there after began walking dogs on weekends.
It wasn’t long before her talents became known, and she quickly agreed to help temperament test our shelter dogs. These days you’ll find Leah at the shelter most Sunday mornings with her training partner Buddy, a nine year old shepherd mix.
Leah lives in the Gun Lake area with her husband Galan and four year old son Eli. When not tending to her horses, cats, dogs, and guinea pigs, Leah provides one-on-one dog training and behavior modification classes through her business “The Balanced Dog”.
Leah has worked with dogs in one fashion or another for nine years, including a two year stint managing a boarding facility, and five years with Pet Smart, where she was first introduced to behavior modification methods. Eventually Leah followed a co-worker to Kent County Humane Society (now Humane Society of West Michigan ), where she learned how to use the S.A.F.E.R. temperament test to identify potential behavior problems in dogs.
Two years ago Leah moved her family to the Gun Lake area and started The Balanced Dog. I asked her what was the most common problem she found with new dog owners. “Failing to set boundaries early on for their new dog. It’s so much harder to undo bad habits. Set their boundaries early”.
Leah shows new pet owners how to set those boundaries. Her weekly one-on-one classes address socialization issues, basic commands, health & nutrition, leash training, and walking, culminating in a “real world field trip” to test what fido has learned.
Leah is offering a free training class at the Allegan Shelter on Saturday April 28th ( 10am-noon) for volunteers and new adopters. She’ll cover the basics, loose leash walking, sit, stay, etc.
How fabulous would it be for all our shelter dogs to receive one-on-one training by our trained shelter volunteers !
If your interested in joining Leah’s shelter class, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
It wasn’t long after taking over management of the Allegan County Animal Shelter when Wishbone learned just how rural and remote our shelter really was. With 2,600 animals arriving each year, adopting our way out of euthanasia was a very tall order indeed. Even today, fully one year after assuming control, a typical day sees perhaps 4-5 visitors to the shelter… not nearly enough to save all our residents.
So very quickly, Karen Kazyak, our Adoption Coordinator realized our only hope in the short term was to solicit assistance from other shelters and rescue groups to take in some of our dogs and cats for their local adoptions. And thus was born Wishbone’s Shelter Transport Program. In 2011 Wishbone transported over 500 cats and dogs to rescues and shelters across Michigan and parts of the near Midwest.
Of course a transport program only works if you have someplace to transport them to. I know it’s become cliche, but it really does take a
community to make a difference, and in this case, to save the life of homeless companion animals in our county.
But it doesn’t always take grand gestures or big programs, …sometimes it takes just one person to get the wheels turning in a community.
Kim Milligan is such a person.
Kim is a long time resident of Gladstone MI. For those of you who know nothing of Michigan beyond the Mackinaw Bridge, Gladstone is a good 3 hours PAST the bridge! It’s a long way from the Allegan Animal Shelter. Yet, in a fortuitous chain of events, Kim became the angel who helped nearly two dozen dogs to safety and into their new homes through shelters across Michigan’s Upper Penninsula.
Rather than tell this story myself, I thought it would be fun to hear it in Kim’s own words.
Jeff: Kim, where do you live and how long have you lived there ?
Kim: I live in Gladstone and I have lived here for over 10 years.
Jeff: Have you always lived in Gladstone?
Kim: No, I grew up in Sterling Hts, MI and spent over 10 years in Mt.Pleasant during and after college at C.M.U. where I got a B.S. in Social Work.
Jeff: Tell me a little bit about your family life
Kim: I am married, I have 2 sons, 2 grown step-daughters, a sassy cockatiel named Peekaboo, a cat (a stray who still doesn’t have a name after owning her for over 12 years), and our newest addition, Bugs, a Plott Hound mix I adopted from my first dog transport with Allegan County Animal Shelter coming to the U.P. My oldest son was along on the trip and fell in love with Bugs on the way home…the rest is history. Bugs is a sweet addition to our family and follows me for my every move around the house–even rides along when I take the kids to school.
Jeff: Do you have any hobbies and interests outside family ?
Kim: Besides helping with my older son’s hockey fundraising, school volunteering, and church group teaching, I am a runner. I am currently training for 2 Spring marathons. Running is my only ‘me time’.
Jeff: How did you first get involved with animal rescue ?
Kim: I first got involved in animal rescue after losing my 13 year-old stray lab-mix named Penny just after Christmas. I missed her terribly and I was ‘just looking’ online to get an idea for what dogs were out there. I definitely wanted to rescue when the time was right. Anyway, I had contacted Allegan Shelter via an e-mail to ask if they sponsored animals as I noticed a beagle/harrier named Bella was on the urgent list. I wasn’t yet ready for a dog, but I hated to see such a nice dog potentially be euthanized. Allegan did not have a sponsorship program, so I decided to see what I could do to find a home for Bella. I called one U.P. shelter out of the blue to see if they would take Bella and possibly more (I was not yet affiliated with
anyone anywhere–so I was a complete stranger calling) this shelter said they would take 3 dogs, the next shelter said they’d take 3, and a third shelter would take 2 as well! I had a full load of dogs to go retrieve at the bridge and had another newbie rescuer, Kathie, (another complete stranger) coming down from AuTrain to help me because we had some big staffie mixes and I couldn’t fit them all in my mini van. It was a long day of driving, but I had such a sense of fulfillment as the dogs were dropped off at their new shelters and each place fell in love with their new dogs. Most of these dogs were adopted within the week! Bella had several families who wanted her.
Jeff: Tell me a bit about the shelters you work with. I’m particularly
interested in how you work with groups separated by such great distances.
Kim: The U.P. is big–nothing is very close. Our shelters are small and some shelters don’t get very many dogs at different times of the year…and have a bunch at others. I simply made a few calls and found people to be very open to saving dogs. Their trust of me was amazing and I tried hard to bring them dogs that they would be able to place easily. Right now, our shelters are full, but when they can help, they do. There are amazing people up here!
Jeff: How did you first hear about Wishbone and the Allegan Animal Shelter ?
Kim: I had never heard of Wishbone and I only heard of Allegan once I wrote that first e-mail [ about Bella ] and Karen responded.
Jeff: What motivated you to offer to help an organization so far from home ?
Kim: I was probably operating a bit on my grief from losing my dog and I just couldn’t see euthanizing a beautiful dog like Bella who was so healthy and sweet. My grandpa had beagles, and I have always had a soft spot for them. It is definitely in my personality not to just talk about helping, but to follow through and do it–even if it seems crazy at first. I have helped rescue about 21 dogs now, I think.
Jeff: What advice would offer to anyone intereted in getting involved in animal rescue today ?
Kim: My advice would be to start with your local shelter and be available. Everyone has a part they can play in pet rescue. Maybe help taking photos to post on the website or update the shelter’s facebook page or maybe he/she can help foster a dog or head up fundraising efforts. If a person lives in an area where the shelter is chronically overcrowded, networking is crucial. If people don’t know these dogs are there, they won’t come in to check them out. I had no prior knowledge of anything re: pet rescue. The main thing for me is to make sure the dogs I am transferring are healthy and adoptable since they are coming into my community and these shelters are trusting me to bring good dogs to them. There are myriad ways to help and it can be overwhelming. You can’t save them all, but you most definitely can make a difference.
Thanks Kim, you are an angel!
One of Wishbone’s many Dynamic Duos! When they are not hosting parties for friends, tending to their home or earning a living, Mike & Todd support Wishbone through their tireless work at the animal shelter and the Wishbone House, or advising Wishbone’s board.
Mike and Todd met in the summer of 1994 in the City of Detroit where they both lived and worked. But it wasn’t long before they felt the pull of Michigan’s western shores with it’s laid back lifestyle and raw beauty. So in 1999 they quit their jobs to join our community and by 2001 purchased their own piece of paradise south of Douglas, and a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan.
Mike is a hair stylist for Panopoulos Salon in Holland, a career that fits his outgoing gregarious personality well. Todd is Director of Clinical Nursing of Cardio Vascular Services at Holland Hospital and an accomplished artist, creating hand beads into jewelry in a studio he had constructed just steps from their home.
Mike and Todd were first exposed to the animal rescue world during a chance meeting in New York with a woman walking grey hounds. “They were just so elegant.” Todd recalls. Shortly afterward they came in contact with Renewed for Life, an area Grey Hound rescue organization. After numerous interviews they eventually took in Boss and Janny, both 6 years old. “They were very high maintenance,” recalls Mike, “they could never be off leash outside and had to be clothed in cold weather”. “We saw Mary at Dogs by Design every two weeks for seven years”.
In her later years Janny took to sleeping in a lower level den, barking until Mike relented and came down to cover her with blankets. During the last few years of Janny’s life Mike took to sleeping on the couch next to her to save the trip down the steps each night. ..truly, a dedicated dad.
Sadly, after seven years of care and dedication both Boss and Janey, at age 14, died within six months of each other.
A few months later, Mike learned of Wishbone through one of his clients, Susan Potter, a Wishbone Volunteer. Within weeks he was a regular volunteer on Saturdays at the Allegan Animal Shelter, always jumping in with both feet and willing to take on any task. Fast forward three years later and Mike now manages our volunteer orientation program, teaching new volunteers dog handling skills within the kennels, shelter policy, and procedures. He also assists at the Wishbone House and Antique Pavilion lending his eye for design to staging the floor merchandise and pricing.
Todd continues to apply his management and organizational skills by advising Wishbones board on policy development, and on occasion lends his considerable culinary skills to Wishbone events.