Archive for the ‘Allegan Animal Shelter’ Category
In this free class, Leah Will, Wishbone volunteer and animal behavior specialist, will teach interested volunteers how to conduct Canine-ality and Puppy-ality assessments.
You may recall that Leah was featured in our March newsletter. Since January of this year she has been conducting the ASPCA SAFER assessment on the dogs that come through the Allegan Shelter.
Our next step is to start implementing the Canine-ality Program. Understanding each dog’s personality better helps us match them to the right forever home.
There are two parts to this program; the first is assessing each dog at the shelter to get a good idea of their individual energy level and temperament, second is an adopter’s survey that any potential person interested in adopting a new dog or puppy would fill out.
With the survey results we can then match them with dogs that have the energy level and temperament potential adopters are looking for. This will decrease our return rate as well as increase the positive experience that our potential adopters have at the shelter.
If you are interested in learning how to conduct Canine-ality and Puppy-ality assessments, contact Leah at (616) 856-3403 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. The class will be held Sat. June 23 at 1pm at The Allegan County Animal Shelter.
For more information on Leah and her work, visit her website at: www.thebalanceddog.org
The first half of 2012 has seen great strides at the Allegan Shelter. Most significantly we have increased the re-home rate of dogs to 99% and of cats to 71%. We have not been forced to euthanize for space in many many months. And I believe we are the only shelter on the western side of Michigan that can make that claim !
That achievement was attained through many new changes. We have increased staffing, provided better access for the public, implemented better data reporting, installed new caging, and believe it or not, we have created a new surgical room ! Here’s a quick synopsis
In March we hired Julie Kowal as our new Office Administrator. Julie is the shelter’s face to the public, she is the first person to greet you when you walk through our doors. She plans shelter events, handles daily inquiries about pets, assists the public surrendering or reclaiming their pets, and works with Karen Kazyak our Adoption Coordinator, to streamline the adoption process and move pets through our shelter quickly.
More Public Access
Increased rates of adoption and returns require better public access to the shelter. So in April we established new evening and weekend hours for the shelter. For the first time in a decade, the Allegan Shelter is now open noon to 4pm on Saturday, and 2pm-7pm on Thursdays.
Better Data Management
We’ve partnered with 24Hour Pet Watch and PetPoint to implement new software that manages pets passing through the shelter. For years the shelter relied on a simple single intake sheet and old database to do little more than count animals entering the shelter and record their outcome. No public or medical data was recorded. But our new PetPoint system will allow us to track the complete history of a pet, from the owners who surrender them to their medical history and temperament testing results. It’s a comprehensive system that will help us grow adoption rates and provide detailed reporting.
Generous public donations in 2011 has enable us to purchase new kennel caging for our intake room and main dog kennel, expanding capacity from 30 to 42 dogs. Most importantly it has expanded our quarantine space for incoming dogs which has greatly improved control of the spread of disease. We also are installing new cat condos to replace the old 2ftx2ft stainless steel cages in the main cat room. The new condos will provide 78” of vertical space and 25 sqft of surface area to house up to 3-4 cats each, increasing both the emotional and physical well being of our cat population.
New Surgical Room and Services
Through generous equipment donations from the Humane Society of Huron Valley and a $10,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture for spay-neuter programs, we have built a new surgical room at the shelter and have have contracted with Dr. Lisa Applegate from Lawton MI to provide spay-neuter services each Monday beginning June 4. We are very excited about this program. For the first time in the history of the Allegan Animal Shelter cats and dogs will be spayed or neutered prior to adoption. It will provide a tremendous value to the public while insuring cats and dogs re-entering the community are altered and cannot continue contributing to our county’s over population problem.
These are amazing strides attained in just the first five months of 2012 and there are more to come. If you’ve not visited the Allegan Animal Shelter recently, come out soon and see the face of our new facility.
If I hadn’t been there I wouldn’t have believed that a community could be so generous with their time and money. Begininning Monday at 1:30pm the Allegan County Animal Shelter begain receiving the first of what would become 340 Shih Tzus dogs, 12 cats, and two birds.
Originally we were only prepared to receive 60 dogs based on a advanced warning from Animal Control. Once we realized we were going to be over run, we sent out a call to the media for help. By 7pm 50-60 volunteers, including four local veterinarians, several vet techs, and groomers, joined the effort.
We worked worked through the night, and by 6pm the following day, every dog had been medically evaluated, groomed, and bathed. An amazing feit.
We’re now moving into the adoption and transportation phase. It is simply not possible to adopt out 350 dogs and cats from our tiny shelter in the time frame required to keep everyone safe. So in addition to our local community, we are reaching out to shelters and rescues across the state to take some of these deserving kids.
Until the last dog is rehomed, we will need to clean, feed, and medicate them twice a day, love on them, walk them, and give them hope.
So come on down and join us !
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 email@example.com
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!
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