The February 2013 PetTails Newsletter published by Wishbone Pet Rescue Alliance is hot off the presses! Read about the upcoming Golden Gala, our successful volunteer party, the need for a foster home for Momma Latida and her pups, a GVSU student-PR project for Wishbone, and much more! View the newsletter here: http://bit.ly/VKp53h.
Cuddly cats and kittens would love to be home for the holidays this year! The Allegan County Animal Shelter operated by Wishbone Pet Rescue Alliance invites you to a Santa Kitty Adoption Event this Saturday, December 1, in two locations:
At the Allegan County Animal Shelter just north of the City of Allegan
And at Wishbone House in nearby Douglas
The shelter takes in more than one-thousand cats each year. This year, they’ve taken in even more.
Right now, at least 100 cats and kittens still need homes in 2012.
The special adoption fee on December 1 is $33 and this includes full vaccinations, microchipping, and spaying or neutering.
Wishbone’s transport program: The underground railroad rides again!
The first time I heard about Wishbone’s Transport Program I thought immediately of the
underground railroad of Civil War days: the rescued [in this case dogs and cats] are driven
to a rendezvous point where they’re handed off to the next driver who takes them to meet
the next driver. And on and on until they reach their destination: a rescue organization or
foster home in another part of Michigan or even another state.
The brainchild of Wishbone’s Adoption Coordinator Karen Kazyak, the Transport Program
is the reason the “space needed euthanization rate” at the Allegan County Animal Shelter
has been near zero since Wishbone took over management. The cremation company used
to pick up from the Shelter weekly, often up to 50 bodies a month.
Karen is in touch with a network of shelters around Michigan and neighboring states,
many of which operate at less than capacity. Since the Allegan Shelter is usually close to
capacity, dogs and cats are transported to shelters which have room for them — the next
stop towards their finding their forever homes.
The logistics are mind-boggling: each run can involve coordinating meeting times and
places for up to 3-4 drivers and shelters. There is usually a transport run three out of every
four weeks a month. Karen personally transports 5-6 animals a week on her commute
between Ann Arbor and Saugatuck. On July 9, 2012, she transported 39 cats and 4 dogs!
Our shelter partners
Because of her many years in animal rescue, Karen had many contacts to assist her in
finding shelters to transfer to. She uses shelters with high visibility, quick placement rates
and comprehensive adoption programs. Those shelters also monitor our website looking
for pets they feel they can place.
Sometimes she’ll receive a call from a shelter saying, “We have a fantastic home for a
________. Please let us know about the next one you have come in.”
Wishbone now has over 120 approved state-wide rescues and shelters it works with, and
there are 50 new rescue organizations seeking approval from Wishbone.
For a shelter to be approved to receive our dogs and cats, they must be a state licensed
shelter; be a non-profit [501c3]; provide two vet references; and copies of their adoption
contract and application. We also review their protocol for the adoption and surrender of
animals and call animal control to see if they have any violations or complaints. On top of
that, Wishbone calls people who’ve adopted from the applicant shelter for a reference.
These high standards insure that our animals will not end up homeless again, or in the
hands of animal experimentation labs.
Selection of animals for transport
As soon as an owner-surrendered animal comes in, a photo is taken and put up on
Petfinders and sent to Karen. She in turn sends the photos to Wishbone’s network of
approved rescues and no-kill shelters for their consideration as well.
We are committed to adopting out to approved local families before transferring an animal
to another shelter or rescue, so we wait as long as we can for adoption applications to come
in via Petfinders, or in-person visits to the Shelter. But the Allegan Shelter has limited
space so we work hard to move the animals along on their journey as safely, quickly and
conscientiously as possible.
Strays are held for four business days to give lost owners time to contact the Shelter
looking for them. After four business days, they go through the same process as
surrendered dogs and cats.
In 2011, Wishbone transported over 500 cats and dogs to rescues and shelters across
Michigan and parts of the near Midwest!!
Here are our needs to help this program grow:
CARGO VAN – Often a car just isn’t big enough to handle all the cats and dogs needing
transport. We need a cargo van small enough that it doesn’t require a chauffer’s license to
We can save many more lives if we have a cargo van.
GAS CARDS – Gas is expensive these days and cargo vans drink a lot. Any denomination is helpful.
DRIVERS – This is really a stand-by situation. You may get a call asking if you can do a
transport on a given day. Please know that you can say “No” if a driving request doesn’t
work for you!! Or you can specify, “I’ll do anything within a 30 mile radius” and so on.
Some runs are very short, such as taking a dog from the Shelter to Wishbone House, or to
the Vet. The more potential volunteer drivers we have, the less work for everyone.
This wonderful program is saving hundreds of dogs and cats a year. Your support is most
welcome and appreciated.
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
You may remember the story of Lucky from our March newsletter. Brought to the Allegan Shelter as a stray in need of medical attention, he was the result of a breeding experiment gone awry: a Rottweiler/dachshund mix!
We scooped him up right away and brought him to one of the trusted vets in our network for a check up and consultation. He diagnosed Lucky with Hydrocephalus (water on the brain) and said that the pressure within the cranium was causing all sorts of problems for our little guy: an enlarged and low hanging head, an odd gait, bulging eyes, balance issues, disorientation, pain, and sensitivities to touch. He immediately referred us to a neurology team in Ann Arbor for further diagnostics and a care plan.
A week later Lucky was taken to Dogwood Neurology Referral Center in Ann Arbor for a comprehensive consultation. After careful examination, Dr. Isaac concurred with Dr. Paternoster’s initial diagnosis, and said that the pressure on Lucky’s brain needed to be relieved in order to determine what normal functions could be resumed.
An MRI and high dose of Prednisone [a steroid] to reduce the inflammation on his brain revealed that Lucky was a candidate for a shunt; a delicate, one way valve placed at the base of the brain to drain the excess fluid that cushions and bathes the brain tissue. Without this surgery, Lucky would surely die, as the fluid pressure would continue to build and compromise the brain tissue itself, and hinder its ability to function.
Approximately a week and a half later, Lucky’s big surgery date arrived. About 5 hours under the knife, our little guy made it through to the other side. The surgery was a success! His recovery went well, and after 4 days in the hospital, he was able to return to his foster home for further healing. We were told not to expect any real noticeable differences for at least a month or so; because his brain had been under so much pressure, it would take a while for the tissue to regenerate and gain functions that had been dormant.
But we noticed positive changes right away: Lucky held his head up high almost immediately. His hoppity horse like gait had been replaced by a more sure-footed “big-boy gait”! His spirits were lifted, his appetite was voracious, and he actively sought out the companionship of the other dogs in the household and wanted to snuggle with his caregivers.
We were thrilled at those immediate results. He began to seem like a normal puppy….his birthright! Then we had a setback. As the incisions began to heal, the itching prompted Little Lucky to scratch at them. He may have wiggled the shunt site enough to break the seal a bit, and was put back on high doses of Prednisone, antibiotics and pain pills. He seemed a tad agitated during his wakeful times, and was restless at night, but gradually progressed from there.
Our little boy went in for his “final check up” last Tuesday, June 5, and got a clean bill of health – a milestone! Dr. Galle said that we should finish the meds he was taking and bring him back in 6 months. He got clearance to resume normal activity and play (other than rough housing with other dogs)….and he can now wear a harness and be leash trained.
Then last Saturday he had another setback: he had a pretty intense seizure that required an emergency call to the neuro-surgeons who immediately called in meds locally. He continued to be agitated all weekend, and had multiple seizures thru out that time.
We then rushed him back to the Dogwood Neurology Center in Ann Arbor where he remains under observation. We need all possible prayers, but we are hopeful for his future. He is a sweet, affectionate little dog who deserves a chance at life.
We continue to love him and care for him as we have from day one. He’s our little Lucky, and he’ll pull thru this, we just know he will! Your prayers and support would be most appreciated! Look for his story and a blog of his healing progress soon, on our Wishbone Pet Rescue website.www.wishbonepetrescue.com.
Thus far, Wishbone has spent over $5,000.00 for Lucky’s needs. This money has come from our Second Chance Fund. This fund was established on behalf of our beloved Chance, the black lab who 3 years ago was hung, poisoned and finally rescued when a neighbor heard his screams.
Chance has brought many animal lovers to continue our mission through the Second Chance Fund. So how could we turn our back on Lucky, who obviously came into this world (as we all do), with a mission? It is our hope to raise enough money to cover our initial costs (so that we can help the next special needs dog or cat that comes our way) and also put aside a “trust” for Lucky’s future forever parents, so that if he should ever need further care and/or a second surgery, we could support them thru such an endeavor.
We can only do this with your help! If you are inspired by Lucky’s story, then please give to his cause! It takes all of us, banding together to really make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. Had Lucky not landed at our shelter, who knows what would have become of him? Surely he would NOT have made it on his own. And likewise, we cannot do this work without you.
THANK YOU FOR GIVING GENEROUSLY!
YOUR DONATIONS HELP US TO CONTINUE TO DO MIRACLES!
LUCKY THANKS YOU !
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.
It was 9:00am Monday as we gathered for a morning strategy meeting at the Allegan Shelter. Just a few days before we had been notified Animal Control was planning to seize 40-60 Shih Tzus from a failed breeding operation. All of the dogs, we were told, would be brought to our shelter. So we had spent the weekend preparing, setting up spare kennel crates in the intake garage and planning a triage system to assess their medical needs. We figured we’d have just enough crates if we could double up some of the dogs. Sunday afternoon we contacted Becky McGeehee, a licensed vet tech at Mac’s Landing, and asked for her help with the triage. Fortunately both she and Dr. Hogarth were available and arrived bright and early Monday morning to take part in the planning.
But by mid morning our carefully laid plans had gone to hell. Our Office Administrator, Julie Kowal, was assisting Animal Control on site and was relaying information back to us. Almost immediately they realized that Animal Control estimates were off, there were more than 100 dogs on site. But since almost all were running loose within the house, they could not get an accurate count.
Our first reaction was to panic. Where would we house the dogs ? We barely had enough makeshift space for the original estimate of 60, but now with over a hundred we were in trouble, and it was going to get worse. By 1:00pm the count was 150 dogs and still climbing.
We were going to get hit with an unimaginable number of dogs and we knew there was nothing we could do about it. All our primary plans were now inadequate, and without 48 hours notice, none of the emergency services from HSUS, PetSmart Charities, or PetCo could help. We were alone…. or were we ?
While still waiting for the first wave of dogs to arrive, we called NewsChannel 3 in Grand Rapids with the single message “Hi, I’m calling from the Allegan County Animal Shelter. We are about to get hit with 200 dogs .. we need help!”.
Around 2:00pm the first wave of dogs arrived. Our tiny crew of 12 got to work. Each dog was photographed with a number, then assessed for health and injuries. It was shocking, the degree to which those souls were caked in feces and soaked in urine exceeded anything I’d seen in four years of shelter work. I remember thinking “how are we going to even make a dent in 200 dogs?”
And still.. it got worse. Around 3:30 the last of the trailers loaded with dogs arrived. Julie hopped out and gave us the final count.. 352 dogs, 12 cats, and 2 birds. “Are you kidding, I said ?” I looked around and counted just 32 dogs that had been assessed , heh.. 320 left to go. All I could do was chuckle.. at some point “bad” ceased to describe the situation.
And then… the tide shifted. I don’t know exactly when, but at some point I looked around and realized our tiny crew of 12 had swelled to perhaps 30. The media had got our message out and help was arriving. Dr. Connel, Dr. Main, and Dr. Adams had arrived and setup three more triage stations. The dogs were moving through more quickly. County Facility Services arrived and opened the old shelter building and began assembling old kennel panels into large makeshift pens. Volunteers had formed a line with dogs waiting for their turn in triage, others relocated dogs from trailers and trucks into the makeshift pens. And the Allegan Pizza Hut arrived with a dozen pizzas and soda.. what a blessing….
Volunteers continued to arrive into the evening. Dr. Connel’s wife and vet techs arrived, as did Dr. Main’s, and it seems like the entire staff from Mac’s Landing arrived to lend a hand after they closed up the clinic for the day.
I think it was around 8:45pm that the last of the dogs was brought through triage. A cheer went up from the crowd of some 80 volunteers. People laughed, others cried, it was truly inspiring.
But the task was far from over. We still had 352 dogs to feed and clean up after, plus our regular shelter residents of 70+ cats and dogs. My mind was swimming with thoughts of how we were going to keep the kennels clean and feed them. And the filth! Good grief, the majority of the dogs were encrusted with feces and soaked with urine. I had visions of grooming dogs for weeks.
Around 2:30am an exhausted shelter staff and volunteers closed up and headed home. What a day.
We returned bright and early the next morning. Two images from that Tuesday morning stay with me still. The vision of a sea of cars and volunteers in our parking lot as I arrived shortly before 8am, and the mountain of soiled blankets and towels which greeted me as I entered our intake room. Our tiny laundry room was completely buried.
The quality and sheer number of volunteers that arrived that morning was beyond anything I could have expected. Many stepped up to the plate and handled incoming calls and provided crowd control. We were told incoming calls that Tuesday topped 800 and overwhelmed the county phone system. Other volunteers helped organize mountains of donated food and cleaning supplies, arranged for laundry services, and pitched in on cleaning detail. They kept our overflow pens of 350 dogs spotless for days.. I never would have believed it possible, but they did it.
Then the groomers started arriving. From all over the state, one after another, groomers arrived carrying their own tables, equipment and supplies. As I walked through the shelter that day there was not a single room or hallway where groomers where not clipping, shaving, and bathing. By 5pm Tuesday, the last of the dogs were groomed and bathed. They transformed those poor filth encrusted souls into recognizable, future family, pets.
It was stunning to see how far those dogs came in just 24 hours. If you have not already done so, take a few minutes to view the video presentation we prepared at http://youtu.be/3qRDISFdIsY.
Help continued to arrive all week from our shelter network partners. Thirty two shelters and private rescues across Michigan and as far away as Houghton took dogs into their organization to continue medical treatment and to find homes for them. In the following weeks we heard reports of medical expenses topping $1,000 for some, with ailments ranging from dental disease to heart worm.
By Friday, just four days after the ordeal began, just thirty eight of the dogs remained, the others were on their way to new homes. The thirty eight which remained behind were all our shelter dare keep given our space restrictions. But in the weeks that followed, our adoption team sifted through an amazing 1,400+ applications to find homes for each.
At the end of it all almost 400 dogs and cats moved in and out of the Allegan Shelter that week, not a soul was lost, disease was kept in check, and we made many many new friends who continue to come out weekly to lend a hand.
It was an inspiring week, one that I doubt any of us will every witness again.
Wishbone’s Pet Food Pantry
In partnership with The Van 92.7, Holland MI, this month is “National Go Fetch Month”. Part of Wishbone Pet Rescue’s Goal is to significantly reduce the number of dogs and cats brought to the Allegan Animal Shelter, by helping pet owners feed and keep them in their own homes. Please help us raise money or collect pet food odnations to support our Allegan County Pet Food Pantry. Evey little bit helps!
ITEMS TO BE DONATED INCLUDE: Dog/Puppy Food, Dog bones/Rawhides, Dog Toys, Cat/Kitten Food, Treats, Cat Litter, Leashes and Collars.
EVERYDAY ITEMS: New/Used Towels, Disposable Gloves, Grooming Aprons, Used Blankets, Bleach and Dish Soap.
Drop Off Locations
13327 Quincy St.
Hamilton Speed Shop LLC
3601 Lincoln Rd M-40
East Holland Veterinary Clinic
763 Paw Paw Dr.
Cross Country Cycle
345 Douglas, Holland, MI 49424
1153 S. Washington
1234 Lincoln Rd.
Please support pet rescue in memory of
(October 19, 1941 – April 20, 2012)
With the possible exception of a stupid arrogant teen-age hostess at the front door of a restaurant, nothing upset or bothered Susan more than people abusing or abandoning pets. Susan and her husband Michael bought the 1860 farm house at 11 Fremont Street, Douglas, in 2009. They spent the summer of 2010 here while wintering in Florida, and then moved to Michigan full-time in May of 2011. Last August, as they were just starting to become more involved in the Douglas community, Susan was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. After a long struggle, she died quietly and peacefully at home on April 20.
As her many friends know, Susan was one-of-a-kind. A “Navy brat,” she was in Hawaii when Pearl Harbor was attacked and in Guantanamo Bay during the Bay of Pigs. Since she retired from LIFE Magazine in 1993 her main interests have been creating beautiful homes and gardens in Chicago, Florida and Michigan, and of course, her family, friends and dogs.
Susan and Mike have had three rescue dogs, including Goldie (left) and Scooter, shown above helping Susan recuperate from hand surgery. The family hopes you will honor Susan’s memory by giving what ever is comfortable for you to Wishbone Pet Rescue. Your gift will be matched by the Rippey family-up to a total of $5,000 -with a like donation to another great organization, Pet Rescue by Judy,in Central Florida. Your donation is fully tax-deductible.
Thank you so much!