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November/December 2014 Vol.3, No.2

PUPPY mills The truth behind those dogs for sale


Happy tales of dogs saved from a puppy mill

K-9 Camp

Training with Kent County Sheriff’s unit

f ree!

2 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2014

Publisher: Brian Edwards Revue Holding Company 65 Monroe Center Suite 5 Grand Rapids, MI 49503 Associate Publisher: Molly C. Rizor Managing Editor: Mary Ullmer


Creative Director: Kevin Kyser Dogs Unleashed is a bi-monthly magazine especially for dog lovers. It is available free throughout West Michigan. It also can be purchased via mail-order subscription by sending a check for $24 for 1 year or $36 for 2 years to Revue Holding Company, 65 Monroe Center, Suite 5, Grand Rapids, MI 49503. To advertise in Dogs Unleashed, contact All material published in Dogs Unleashed is copyrighted Š 2014 by Revue Holding Company. All rights reserved. Reproduction of material presented in Dogs Unleashed is prohibited without written permission. Contents are for entertainment only. Publisher assumes no responsibility for the accuracy, safety or performance of information or products presented. The opinions presented are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or judgment of the publisher or advertisers. Send photos, questions or comments to: Find us online! Website: Facebook: DogsUnleashedMagazine

Printed in the U.S.A.

To Advertise: (616) 608-6170


on the cover

5 From the Editor 6 Canine Calendar 8 Fetch! 10 The Groom Room 12 Paws-Ability 13 Working Dogs 16 Feature: Puppy Mills 23 Feature: Puppy Mill Rescues 28 Around Town 30 The Tail End

photo by jennifer waters

In May of 2013, Lexi was part of a group of 164 Jack Russell terriers and Shiba Inus rescued from a puppy mill near Lake City, Mich. Now, Lexi is thriving in her adoptive home in Grand Rapids.

November/December 2014 Dogs Unleashed 3


who we are

Writing: Abigail Carlon (Working Dogs), Nicholas Garbaty (Buyer Beware), Susan Harrison-Wolfiss (Comeback Canines, The Tail End), Linda Odette (Fetch), Kristie Swan (Paws-Ability), Melissa VerPlank (The Groom Room), Lindsey Wylie-Gruen (Canine Calendar)

Mary Ullmer (Editor), is a former manager, editor, reporter and blogger who previously worked for the Grand Rapids Press, Chicago Tribune, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Springfield News-Leader and Muskegon Chronicle. Email her at

Photography: Abigail Carlon (Working Dogs) Cartoonist: Jonny Hawkins Copy editing: Joe Boomgaard, Lindsay Patton-Carson

West Michigan Spay & Neuter Clinic

6130 Airline Road Fruitport, MI 49415

TO SUBSCRIBE To have Dogs Unleashed delivered to your home, send a check ($24 for 1-year subscription, $36 for 2 years) to: Revue Holding Company 65 Monroe Center Suite 5 Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Kevin Kyser (Creative Director), owns Kyser Design Werks, a full-service branding and marketing firm. Kevin and his wife Jody have four children, four cats and a 150-pound Lab/ Rottweiler mix named Gus. Email him at Jennifer Waters (Photographer), is a professional pet photographer at Grumpy Pups Pet Photography, (ad on p. 28) She also is a freelance writer and volunteer photographer at Harbor Humane Society. She credits her three boxers — the original “grumpy pups” — for her love of working with animals. View her work at or contact Jennifer at

This Holiday Season Help the Animals at HSWM!

Adopt * Donate * Foster 3077 Wilson Dr NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49534 4 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2014




New publisher is something to bark about When I was approached more than two years ago about starting a lifestyle magazine for dog lovers, I jumped at the chance. Because of my love for dogs, and for journalism, the opportunity and the timing – I had been laid off from my positions of sports editor and pet blogger at the Grand Rapids Press – were perfect. We launched our bi-monthly magazine, Dogs Unleashed, in September 2012 with Underwater Dogs photographer Seth Casteel featured on our first cover. Since then, Dogs Unleashed has gone through a few changes, and a couple of publishers, and twice was near the point of ceasing publication. Now, we’ve found a new home and

forged a publishing relationship that will be a lasting one. Revue Holding Company, a wellestablished company in Grand Rapids and publisher of REVUE, MiBiz and Recoil magazines, has acquired Dogs Unleashed. The acquisition brings with it Revue Holding Company’s expertise in areas the magazine was lacking previously – advertising sales, marketing and distribution. Dogs Unleashed again will be offered free and will be available at many more West Michigan locations. For those outside of West Michigan, it still is available via paid subscription. In addition, RHC’s web development company, <engine/>, has built a new website to complement the print edition of Dogs Unleashed. Check out, where you’ll find features from the magazine as well as new content. Our goal is to continue bringing

dog lovers the entertaining and informative content Dogs Unleashed readers have come to expect, and to expand our presence in the West Michigan community and beyond. We’ll soon begin offering giveaways, contests and opportunities to engage readers. We’ll be attending dog-related events and even plan to host a couple of events of our own in the coming year in an effort to reach out to our audience and loyal advertisers, who have kept Dogs Unleashed going strong for the past two-plus years. Be sure to pick up your free issue of Dogs Unleashed, patronize our advertisers and distribution points, and follow our website and Facebook page, Dogs Unleashed Magazine, to keep up on dogrelated news and activities. We hope you enjoy this first issue under RHC’s leadership and look forward to our bright future together.



Veterinary Technicians help care for animals, educate pet owners, and even assist in surgery. If you love animals, then you’ll love this career.

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VISIT: 1903 Marquette Ave., Muskegon, MI 49442




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BAKER.EDU November/December 2014 Dogs Unleashed 5




Senior Sundays: Fur Crazy Pet Salon, 19130 North Fruitport Road, Spring Lake. Grooming discounts of 20 to 30 percent for senior citizens (65 or older) on Sundays only through November and December. Call to reserve a spot (616) 935-7551 or email furcrazy1@ Sundays in November and December.


Paws 2 Remember, 6 p.m., Hospice of North Ottawa, 1061 S. Beacon, Suite 100, Grand Haven. A pet loss grief support group presented by Clock Timeless Pets. Free. For information, call (231) 7223721 or (616) 844-4200. Also held Dec. 2.


West Michigan Harvest Cluster, AKC Dog Show, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 2900 Lake, Kalamazoo. Conformation, obedience trials and rally trials, open for all dog breeds. Cost is $5 per vehicle per day, or $15 for a 4-day pass. For more information, go to or call (616) 453-1679.


Intro to Dog Powered Sports, Noon-4 p.m. Thunderfeet Sleds and Kennels, 10880 Cottonwood, Howard City. Have fun with your dog learning the proper equipment use, conditioning, training techniques, harness fitting and staying safe on the trails with your furry companion. Cost is $20 per person with one dog. For information, go to


6 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2014

Toddler Tails, 10-10:45 a.m., Humane Society of West Michigan, 3077

Wilson Drive NW, Grand Rapids. Designed for ages 2-4 and includes stories, activities, crafts and animal interactions. Cost is $5 per family. Contact Jen Self-Aulgur (616) 7918066 or Also held Dec. 9.


Paws 2 Remember, 7 p.m., Scolnik Healing Center, 888 Terrace St., Muskegon. Pet loss grief support group presented by Clock Timeless Pets. Free. For information, call (231) 722-3721 or (616) 844-4200. Also held Dec. 15.


Baby Ready Pets, noon-2 p.m., Humane Society of West Michigan, 3077 Wilson Drive NW, Grand Rapids. A workshop to help prepare your pet for the arrival of your bundle of joy. With a little training and assistance, you can make it a safe and stress-free experience for the whole family. Contact Jen SelfAulgur (616) 791-8066 or jaulgur@



K-9 Fanciers Dog Show, Friday 3-11 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 2900 Lake, Kalamazoo. UKC presents a multibreed dog show. Free. For information, contact Phil Tanner: ptanner@kibbe. com or (989) 860-9845.


Adopt-a-thon, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Kent County Animal Shelter, 740 Fuller NE, Grand Rapids. Dogs available for $62, including spay/neuter, age-appropriate vaccines and licensing. Cats available for $5, including spay/neuter and ageappropriate vaccines. Low-cost microchips also are available. Event includes free pizza and prizes. For more information on KCAS, including the adoption program, go to

Calendar entries To submit entries for Canine Calendar, please include the name and location of the event, start time, cost, contact information and any details regarding the event to:


Holiday Open House, 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Humane Society of West Michigan, 3077 Wilson Drive NW, Grand Rapids. Adoption specials on all animals at HSWM. Attendees are welcome to bring a gift for animals to place under the tree. For information, contact Nicole Cook (616) 791-8089 or


Furry Friday Films, 5:30-9:30 p.m., Humane Society of West Michigan, 3077 Wilson Drive NW, Grand Rapids. Kids in grades K-5 are invited to join HSWM for animal time, games, crafts and an animal movie. Pizza, pop and popcorn provided. Cost is $25 per child with a $10 sibling discount. Contact Jen Self-Aulgur (616) 7918066 or


Winter Break Mini Camp, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Humane Society of West Michigan, 3077 Wilson Drive NW, Grand Rapids. Join the animals at HSWM for a fun-filled three days. Each day will feature presentations, games, crafts and time with the animals. Cost is $55. Register at or contact Jen Self-Aulgur (616) 7918066 or


Circle of Trees, 5 p.m., Walker Park in North Muskegon. A dog walk/parade in the city of North Muskegon, sponsored by Clock Funeral Home’s Timeless Pets. Free. For information, call (231) 722-3721 or (616) 844-4200.

9 out of 10 dogs love the snow… But not you?! Lucky for you, we do! Get your dog on the GR Dog Adventures schedule today! Call or text (248) 980-9049 to set up your free Meet-And-Greet. • Dog Running • Dog Hiking • Dog Walking

“…GR Dog Adventures has had such a positive impact on our dogs, Bailey and Rock. Both dogs have lost weight and muscled-up. The dogs aren’t as crazy hyper when we get home because they’ve burned off energy on their daily runs in the woods. Most of all, they are happier…and so are we! A great investment!”

Eve Wrest, Owner

248-980-9049 | | November/December 2014 Dogs Unleashed 7



PUT A SOCK IN IT What it is: Give these dog socks for Christmas and you might be put on the “Best Christmas Gift Ever” list. But wait there’s more: More than 200 styles are available and include all the major breeds. Made of cotton, they feel like an athletic sock. Fetch it: Get them at for $10.95 a pair.

SAVE THIS DATE! What it is: DogCity USA 2015 is a stand-up calendar, perfectly sized for your desk or kitchen counter. It’s a yearlong celebration of canines in downtown Grand Rapids. It features dogs from West Michigan, so you might even spot a canine friend you recognize. But wait, there’s more: If you caught the 2014 ArtPrize entry “DogCity USA” by Jennifer Waters of Grumpy Pups Pet Photography, you’ll want to

get your paws on this calendar. Each month features a fun, colorful photo from her series, which promotes making Grand Rapids a more dogfriendly city. Fetch it: Order your calendar for $15 online at store. There are two versions, so if you’re looking for a specific dog to be included in your calendar, email Waters at

POOP SCOOP What it is: If you’ve got an overachieving dog that poops twice on his walks, pick up a Poopsta. The makers say it’s the world’s first one-push poop scoop. It’s also great for walking two dogs or for those who have trouble bending over to pick up poop. But wait, there’s more: It comes with a shoulder strap and 50 bags and bands. The device can handle the output of approximately two Dobermans or five Chihuahuas, according to the makers. Fetch it: Go to It’s $29.95 plus postage. There’s also a video on this site showing how the Poopsta works.

8 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2014

FEEL THE HEAT What it is: Keep your pooch pampered this winter with a heated bed made by KH Manufacturing Pet Products. But wait, there’s more: The indoor beds come in small, medium and large sizes and a one-year warranty. The company also sells warming pads for outdoors as well as pet bed warmers. Fetch it: Cost is $87.99 for the small (24x19) and $159.19 for the large (41x30) at

READ ALL ABOUT IT What it is: Harlow and Sage (and Indiana) is a book about three dogs you may have seen via social media. Harlow the Weimaraner narrates the story and the book is filled with images that will make you say “aww.” But wait, there’s more: “The latest furballs to attain fame may just be our favorites,” said People magazine. Fetch it: Find it at your local bookstore or go to amazon. com and get it for $13.49.



What it is: The holiday card season is coming and that means readers will be searching for a card featuring a dog. You can find cool greeting cards with your favorite breed (more than 100 breeds are available) wearing a Santa Claus hat from Zeppa Studios.

What it is: Eye Envy is a cleanser that removes stains from dog eyes. The eye drops and powder are approved by veterinarians and groomers.

But wait, there’s more: The cards are made by the artist M.K. Zeppa. Her company also sells leash racks, message boards, tiles, mugs, coasters and more. Fetch it: Find it online at, but be warned: There is a good chance you won’t be able to leave this site without buying something. A package of eight cards costs $12.95; a 24-pack is $29.95.

But wait, there’s more: No antibiotics are used, and Eye Envy helps stop new stains. The makers also recently introduced new ear cleaning products. Fetch it: Find it at It’s $10 for a 2-ounce bottle.




WALK I N NAI L TRIMS WELCOME $5.00. November/December 2014 Dogs Unleashed 9

the groom room

melissa verplank

Tips, tools and benefits of brushing Regular brushing and grooming keeps your pet’s coat in peak condition. It’s your first line of defense against illness and, what’s more, your pet will love you for it. Brushing has many benefits. It distributes the natural oils from the skin through the coat, keeping fur healthy and gorgeous. It’s a terrific way to bond with your pet. It’s also the best time to check the coat’s condition and look for tangles or mats and check to see if it’s dirty, dry or oily. While you’re looking, you also should be on the alert for anything unusual, like: • warts, lumps or bumps; • anything caught in the fur; • parasites (ticks, fleas or any signs of tapeworm); • cuts or abrasions. By now, you’ve discovered another perk of regular brushing: It removes excess hair. If you keep at it, you’ll be amazed by how much hair (normally found on your floor, furniture, car and your favorite black pants) is reduced.

When, and how often, should you brush your dog?

Preferably, dogs begin getting used to the grooming process as puppies. It starts with a gentle brush or rubber curry that feels good on the skin. Brushing should be a pleasant experience for your pet. Daily brushing builds trust and reinforces your bond

while preventing mats and tangles from developing. Remember, the earlier you practice brushing, the more you can avoid behavioral problems later. How often you brush your dog will depend on the coat length. Most shorthaired dogs only need to be brushed once a week. Thicker coats will need to be brushed two or three times a week, more often during the beginning of spring and fall when shedding is the worst. Long hair likely will require daily grooming to avoid tangles or mats. What are the best tools for the job?

Short coats: A rubber curry with flexible rubber teeth is your best option. They are very effective at removing loose coat on Dobermans, Labs, Boxers, Pointers or any dog with similar coat types. They are very gentle and safe on the skin. Simply work the curry over the dog’s body in the direction of the coat growth. Most pets love the massaging feel of the rubber curry. Use as much pressure as is comfortable for the pet. Longer, curly, wavy or thick coats: You’ll need a combination of tools to do the job: Slicker brush, comb and possibly a de-shedding tool if loose coat is a seasonal problem. Slicker brushes come in many shapes, sizes and firmness. Most professionals opt for brushes with curved backs to facilitate safe brushing. On smaller dogs with sensitive or delicate skin, opt for smaller brushes with softer bristles. For larger dogs or pets with heavier coats, select a firmer slicker brush. Match the size of the brush to the size of your pet. The best comb to use is a sturdy metal comb with wide-set teeth. Golden retrievers, Pomeranians, Bichons and Shih Tzus are a few breeds that require these types of tools. For seasonal shedding issues: It’s time for the big guns. Shedding

10 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2014

blades, carding tools and rakes will aid in removing plenty of loose coat in short order. Work in the direction of the coat growth. Harsh-coated Terriers and many Spaniel breeds: These breeds should have harsh or crisp outer coats on their bodies and softer furnishings on their legs, underbodies, tails and sometimes their heads. To maintain proper texture, you’ll need carding tools, rakes and hand-stripping tools. On the furnishings, use a firm slicker brush for most pet coats.

Brushing techniques

When brushing, use a gentle “pat and pull” technique. While keeping a straight wrist, softly pat the coat with the full pad of the brush and pull away from the skin with each stroke. Flicking the wrist can puncture or brush burn the dog’s skin. Use a round, sweeping motion from your shoulder. After this technique is mastered, the momentum from each stroke carries naturally into the next one. Line brushing is a systematic way to brush your pet right down to the skin. Push the coat up with your hand and softly brush small sections, creating a seam line at the skin. Once your brush glides through freely, pull down another small section of coat. Once you complete an area, check your work with a comb to ensure it is tangle free. Line brushing is very gentle and easy on the pet’s skin when done correctly. Line brushing requires skill and finesse versus power and muscle. Illustrations by Lisa VanSweden

the groom room

Practice the stroke on your own bare arm. Lightly draw the brush across your arm and pay attention to how it feels. Pressure matters. Did you feel a sting or scratch? Remember that your pet will feel the same thing. Few pets will object to being brushed after you master this technique. Even the most difficult mats and tangles can be removed without pain or injury.

Take the time to work systematically over the dog to ensure all body parts are brushed thoroughly. Start at the lowest sections and work your way up. For example: start at the toes and work up the leg. On long coats, start at the outer edges of the fur and work up towards the skin. In time, your hands alone will be enough to tell you which areas need attention. While it’s true you don’t need a pro to brush your dog, many pet owners (and pets) enjoy the full salon experience. Most groomers and stylists are more than happy to give you a brushing lesson so you can maintain your pet’s coat properly between visits. Brushing is an essential part of a good grooming routine and will help keep your dog’s coat healthy and beautiful. It’s easy to do, and with the right tools, you can master the techniques to do the job right.

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melissa verplank

Melissa Verplank has more than 30 years of experience in the pet industry. She has won numerous national and international awards for her mastery of grooming and is author of the award-winning books “Notes From the Grooming Table” and “Theory of Five.” She also is creator of Learn2GroomDogs. com, an online educational video library for pet grooming, and has owned multiple West Michigan pet companies, including Paragon School of Pet Grooming and Whiskers Pet Resort and Spa.

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Training rescue dogs requires time, patience Rescuing a dog from a shelter can be an exciting, exasperating, enriching and endlessly rewarding experience. It is a new journey for both of you. Shelters and rescues test and evaluate candidates for adoption. These tests strive to give a potential adopter the most accurate profile of a dog as possible. The behaviors observed are true for that dog in that environment at that time. For some, the shelter environment has little effect on their demeanor; others are more inhibited and take time to blossom. When bringing your newly adopted dog home, it is a good rule of thumb to remember freedoms are earned over time. It is a good sign when a dog does not soil his or her kennel at a shelter, but that does not mean the dog will automatically know what to do in your home. It is not a forgone conclusion that there will be accidents, but it is best to be prepared. Spend time helping your new friend learn to “potty” outside. Pay close attention to recognize the signs associated with the need to go. Veterinary behaviorist Patricia McConnell advocates the rule of three: three days, three weeks, three months. She believes these are milestone periods of time. The first three days are the transition time from the shelter to your home. The home will be much quieter and have more freedom and stimulation than the kennel at the shelter. It can be overwhelming for the dog, who needs time to adjust to new surroundings. After three weeks, McConnell says, your dog likely is getting used to a daily routine, including walks, feeding time and potty breaks. At three months, most dogs will know they are “home” and your relationship should be solidified. Of course, every dog is different, so do not think rigidly of this timeline but rather understand that the point is to give it time. While you are adapting to one change — bringing a new dog into your home — the dog may be adapting to several. Socialization is important to all dogs but you may want to give your rescue some time to get comfortable. Some dogs have experienced multiple transitions, which can inhibit behavior. Rushing a dog to the dog park in the early days after adoption could lead to a false idea of their ability to interact with other dogs. Some may seem completely disinterested early on while others may feel defensive and insecure.

12 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2014

Socialization is important to all dogs but you may want to give your rescue some time to get comfortable. The same holds true with meeting a lot of new people. It may overwhelm the new dog. Remember that your best friend is still a stranger to your newly adopted dog. Disinterest and shying away shouldn’t automatically be read as signs of abuse. One of the best gifts any dog can receive is that of proper training. Training can help mitigate the transition, manage expectations and guide you to a better understanding of one another. What is that saying? Rescuing one dog may not change the world, but for that one dog, the world will be changed forever. Kristie Swan, a certified professional dog trainer, is head trainer and manager at Whiskers University in Grand Rapids, Mich. Contact her at (616) 575-5660 or

working dogs


Trained to serve 9

Honor Camp K- dogs help keep communities safe and secure


Sabre, a German Shepherd from the Netherlands, is part of a specialized K-9 team with the Kent County Sheriff Department.

Story and Photos by ABIGAIL CARLON

wo new K-9 dogs are working in active service in the West Michigan community. Using their different and unique skills, each K-9 is on duty, offering a wide variety of services citizens have come to depend upon and helping to ensure safety for everyone. The Kent County Sheriff Department recently hosted a prestigious K-9 training academy at its Honor Camp near Greenville, where dogs Fix and Sabre honed their skills. Sheriff Deputy Dan Alderink, with Sabre, and Spectrum Health security officer Derek Karcher, with Fix, completed the intensive five-week training, working 40 hours each week. John Skalski, who spent 30 years as a K-9 handler for the City of Detroit Police Department and another four years in Mount Clemens, was head trainer for the academy. Skalski, with his hand-picked team of trainers, assists law enforcement agencies in acquiring K-9s from Europe and creates custom training plans for the duties each K-9 team will perform. Fix, a 15-month-old German Shepherd, came to Spectrum Health Butterworth campus via the Czech Republic. Fix and Karcher are the first K-9 security officer team to work at Spectrum. “Fix is such a great dog,” Karcher said. “He has a fun personality and had an easy time becoming part of my family.” The addition of Fix to the hospital security team was provided through a donation from a Spectrum Health foundation. The priority is keeping the patients, visitors and staff members of Spectrum Health safe. A favorite aspect of the job, Karcher said, is being the friendly faces for everyone at the hospital campus.

November/December 2014 Dogs Unleashed 13

Fix, who works security at Spectrum Health Butterworth campus, has been trained in explosive material detection.

Fix and Karcher perform other duties, more serious in nature, since their training at Honor Camp specialized in explosives detection. Fix’s primary skill is detecting explosive material, and his job is to keep the Spectrum Health Butterworth campus free from explosive devices or materials. The team also clears areas prior to events and visits from highprofile guests. At Honor Camp, Fix learned how to detect explosive material using positive-reward training, with a Kong rubber toy on a rope as the reward. Fix now knows the click of his collar means it’s time to work. “This training was tough and we both became successful from making mistakes and then learning from them,” Karcher said.

Sabre checks a car for narcotics during training.

Training involves repeated interaction with explosive material, as well as non-explosive material. Located within empty paint cans, materials of both types are hidden from Fix. When he accurately detects the desired material, Fix gets the one thing he has been waiting for – the red Kong toy Karcher keeps in his pocket. “This training was as much for me as it was for Fix, since this is my first role as a K-9 handler,” Karcher said. Sabre, a 2-year-old German Shepherd Dog, hails from the Netherlands. He’s part of a specialized K-9 team with the Kent County Sheriff Department. Sabre joins K-9 members Bart, who works on the vice squad detecting narcotics; Ritzey, one of only two arson-detection dogs in Michigan; and Joe, a drug detection and tracking dog. Alderink handled Joe, who is set to retire Dec. 31, as well as Sabre. As part of the Kent County Narcotics Enforcement Team, Alderink and Joe participated in a Grand Rapids drug bust in 2011 that yielded the state record for a marijuana seizure – 12,000 pounds.

14 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2014

Assets from successful narcotic seizures covered the cost and training for K-9s. The cost of bringing Sabre to the U.S. and his training came to $12,000, Alderink said. Sabre, named in honor of Lansing Police Department K-9 Sabre -- who was killed in the line of duty in 1999 -- now makes his home with Alderink and Joe. “Sabre and Joe get along really well at home, although sometimes Sabre can be the annoying kid brother, wanting to play with Joe constantly,” Alderink said. Alderink joined the Kent County Sheriff Department as a road patrol deputy in 1996. After stints as a detective and handler in K-9 narcotics detection, Alderink returned to patrol. “I am very passionate about being a K-9 handler after having worked Joe,” Alderink said. “I saw an opportunity to start a Patrol K-9 Unit with the Kent County Sheriff Department and knew that returning to the road with a new, younger dog would be a great beginning to an outstanding asset.” Sabre is a “multi-purpose” police K-9 and as such is trained in narcotics detection, building search, article search, tracking and the apprehension

of fleeing suspects. His tracking skills mean Sabre can even assist in search and rescue. “I was grateful to have several years of K-9 handling experience,” Alderink said. “It certainly was to my benefit during this training. Even though each K-9 has a unique personality, having previous experience helped me be a better handler for Sabre.” Chosen for his high drive and motivation, Sabre has an excellent sense of smell. His narcotics detection training includes contact with articles that contain scents from different narcotics. Scented articles are hidden in various locations: in lockers, above ceiling tiles and inside vehicles. Once Sabre locates a narcotic, he is rewarded with his favorite jute roll, a braided rope roll often used in training. Sabre’s skills in detection are so solid, they are taken as evidence in court cases. Handlers keeps detailed training logs and the dogs and handlers certify annually as a team. These logs

and certifications are used in court to prove the K-9 team’s reliability. Sabre already is proving his worth. “In the first few weeks working on active road patrol duty, Sabre and I successfully tracked and apprehended two individuals who had stolen scrap metal from a local business, fleeing the scene on foot,” Alderink said. “Sabre was able to follow their scent and track them through dense forest and foliage.” In another instance, the team responded to a home invasion in which a senior citizen had returned home and found her front door wide open. Sabre and Alderink, joined by another deputy, performed a search of the home to assure the homeowner that no one was hiding inside and that she was safe to enter. Alderink said he’d like to expand the K-9 Road Patrol Unit by adding more dogs and handlers. “I’m very optimistic for our future together because we have already had some important wins and we are doing our part to keep people safe,” he said.

Elk Antler Dog Chews

working dogs


Sabre, hard at work during an exercise at Honor Camp near Greenville.




Boarding | Day Care | Training Bite prevention for aggressive dogs | Dog psychology and problem solving Valley Elk Farms

6363 56th Ave, Hudsonville, MI. 49426 616-209-5501 • “Specializing in off-leash reliability” November/December 2014 Dogs Unleashed 15


Two Jack Russell terriers, covered in mud, peer out from their kennel before being rescued from a puppy mill near Lake City, Mich., in May 2013.

Buyer Beware

Price for puppy mill dogs is more than dollars and cents BY NICHOLAS GARBATY

How much is that puppy in the pet store window? In all likelihood, it costs more than you might think. As tantalizing as pet store puppies may seem — especially as the season of giving makes its return — many of them likely come from puppy mills. In that case, the cost of the puppy can’t be measured in dollars and cents alone because of complications that often come with dogs with puppy mills. “A puppy mill is a mass breeding facility that will churn out puppies for the pet trade with an emphasis on profit over the welfare of the animals,” said Jill Fritz, the Michigan senior state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “It takes many forms, but we’ll often see them with no real quality of life, living in small wire cages,

unsanitary conditions, very little room for exercise and little or no veterinary care.” Despite the horrid conditions, puppy mills still function, as long as people keep buying the dogs. The main reason puppy mills still succeed is the lack of educated consumers, dog advocates say. “The unsuspecting consumer sees the cute puppy in the window and will pay hundreds of dollars to bring that cute animal home,” said Fritz, noting that many consumers think the puppies come from upstanding, responsible breeders. “They won’t really know the true price for that dog and the price and suffering for the dog’s parents living years in squalor.” Barbara Bytwerk, veterinarian and owner of Haven Animal Hospital in Grand Haven, Mich., has seen her share

16 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2014

of puppy mill dogs at her practice. “A puppy mill will have a female dog that is bred twice a year from about 1 year of age until she dies — and they die prematurely due to the prolonged stress on their bodies,” Bytwerk said. “They are caged all of the time, never learn normal social behavior, and their teeth fall out due to the fact that frequent pregnancies suck the calcium from their bones. “They are often terrible mothers producing offspring that are very poorly socialized. So, while the financial costs to the individuals purchasing these dogs can be substantial, the cost to these poor animals is agonizing.” Puppy mill operators reportedly use shady tactics to entice consumers to buy their products. For example, they breed “designer dogs,” mutts bred with the intent of combining the desirable

characteristics of different breeds into one dog. Customers go home thinking they have the perfect dog, but the puppies end up developing problems that often don’t manifest until they grow older, sources said. “Even if the original intent was to highlight the best qualities of each breed, you can’t selectively breed for good qualities without combining some of the less desirable or even negative qualities of a breed,” said Laurie Wright, veterinarian for the Kent County Animal Shelter. “There are skeletal issues, dental issues, skin issues, urinary tract infections and growth abnormalities. There’s a lot of controversy about what physically happens to these dogs.” From birth, the puppies often reside in confined, crowded conditions. The conditions inhibit the dogs from expressing some of their natural behaviors, such as eliminating waste away from their places of rest. According to Wright, they experience behavioral and health issues that normal dogs would not. “These dogs have no coping mechanisms,” Wright said. “They just become catatonic and don’t respond to anything. That’s a big frustration for owners because they want the dogs to interact and be friendly and be social and they just don’t have any interest.” Bytwerk said the costs to owners who adopt puppy mill dogs can be in the thousands. “The inbreeding associated with puppy mill production leads to many congenital and genetic defects,” Bytwerk said. One common defect is a portosystemic shunt, a vessel that bypasses the liver and that typically requires surgical intervention at a cost of $5,000 to $10,000, Bytwerk said. Morbidity and mortality rates for puppy mill dogs are also high, she said. Other issues Bytwerk outlined include joint disease, epilepsy, dental disease, allergic dermatitis and behavioral problems, which can lead to thousands of dollars in treatment.

“Heart disease, congenital cataracts, disc disease ... the list is exhausting. All are the result of poor breeding standards. Puppy mills have no breeding standards, other than making a buck.” — Barbara Bytwerk, DVM, Haven Animal Hospital Because of the often clandestine nature of puppy mills, the dogs don’t regularly receive attention from certified veterinarians. Some operators vaccinate their dogs at their own discretion while others disregard care completely. In either case, it’s illegal. “They operate undercover and don’t want to be discovered, and that’s one of the concerns of the veterinary profession,” Wright said. “If a veterinarian were called to a facility that is not maintaining appropriate wellness care and housing dogs improperly, they’re obligated by law to report those to the authorities.” TO THE RESCUE

New movements and organizations that aim to cease the spread and


puppy mills

function of the mills are constantly popping up these days. Initiatives to rescue dogs, educate consumers and ultimately shut down illegal operations gain momentum and support as these groups reach out to more people. One group, A New Start on Life in Holland, Mich., works tirelessly to save these dogs and relieve them from their poor confinements. “They arranged these ‘puppy mill runs’ where they’d go down to Missouri, and they would transport them back up to Michigan to foster homes,” said Cheryl Baase, a former board member of A New Start on Life. Baase participated in dog rescue for about 10 years before leaving to focus on her photography business. She still takes in and fosters dogs when she can. “Sometimes those runs would come in at two o’clock in the morning, so I’d get up and have crates lined up in my kitchen to take these guys in,” she said. “We’d start by cleaning them up and giving them baths. We had groomers on hand to get the ones that needed to be groomed, groomed. Then you just started to rehabilitate them.” Several rescues succeeded in the past few years around the Midwest,

Photo courtesy Jason E. Miczek for HSUS

These dogs were rescued by the HSUS, Humane Society of Charlotte and the Rutherford County (N.C.) Sheriff’s Office in June. This facility was the 20th puppy mill raid in just three years in North Carolina.

November/December 2014 Dogs Unleashed 17


puppy mills

including in Michigan. In May 2013, the Missaukee County Sheriff ’s Office, with assistance from the ASPCA, shut down a large-scale breeding operation near Lake City involving Jack Russell terriers and Shiba Inus. “We have a difficult situation up here in our county because we have no animal control,” Missaukee County Sheriff Jim Bosscher said in a recent telephone interview. Bosscher said John Jones, who owned JRT John’s Jack Russell and Shiba Inu Kennel, moved there because he knew there was no animal control department. In 2007, Jones was cited for a similar puppy mill situation in Barry County, Bosscher said. Bosscher described Jones as an “animal hoarder” who sold dogs occasionally and couldn’t care for the 164 dogs and puppies in his kennel, failing to meet the conditions and standards to obtain a kennel license. County officials tried to work with Jones for several months to get him to improve the situation, all to no avail. Jones was arrested in May 2013 for resisting and obstructing police as his dogs were seized and rescued by the ASPCA. He pled guilty to the charge and paid a $720 fine. The puppy mill was shut down, and the ASPCA brought a judgment against Jones for $19,000, the cost of rescuing the dogs. Bosscher said he doubts that will ever be paid. As far as Bosscher knows, Jones still lives in the area. He purchased licenses


A puppy trapped in wire flooring during a raid on a puppy mill in Lebanon, Mo., in 2011.

for three dogs in 2014. There have been no complaints brought against him. “He’s kind of disappeared,” Bosscher said. In April 2012, law enforcement and animal control officers went into a breeding facility in Michigan’s Allegan County expecting to seize about 60 animals. When they came out, they had recovered more than 350, according to several news sources covering the rescue. The dogs had all the characteristics of living in a puppy mill: They were soaked in urine, covered in fleas, experienced severe matting and dental problems. Cases like these demonstrate the dilapidated conditions in which rescuers find these dogs, sources said. They aren’t exclusive to Michigan, either. “We had some dogs come in from an Amish puppy mill out of Ohio,” Baase said. “We were taking the dogs out of the truck and out of the cages and we took out a dog that we thought was just one dog but was actually two dogs. They were completely matted together from being in the same cage together.” A LEGAL BUSINESS


A Yorkie with an eye disorder was photographed by USDA inspectors at a facility in Fredericksburg, Ohio after the operator repeatedly failed to get adequate treatment for the dog.

Despite their cruel and illicit operations, puppy mills are legal in the United States and regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “If a puppy mill sells to a pet store, it has to have a USDA license,” said Janie Jenkins, a member of the Chicago French bulldog rescue and founder of Stop Online Puppy Mills. “They have to have

18 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2014

inspections where inspectors come on the property approximately once a year.” Having a federal agent inspect these large-scale breeding operations may sound reassuring. However, the inspector’s job consists of checking to see that puppy mills adhere to “minimum care standards” taken from the Animal Welfare Act, not taking action to shut down a puppy mill. “Dogs are considered livestock in the eyes of our federal government,” Jenkins said. “The standards are so low, they’re inhumane.” While rescuing dogs is important, as long as puppy mills are legal and people buy from them, the mills have no reason to discontinue their operations. That’s why many awareness groups began popping up to advocate consumer education and propose new legislation to make running puppy mills more difficult and ultimately shut them down. Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan is one of these groups. Initially, the group mainly protested and ran pet store campaigns. Now, the organization also holds awareness events to educate the public, sends representatives to city council meetings to spread the word to community leaders and helps teach advocates how to lobby. “We don’t focus on rescuing animals,” said Pam Sordyl, the founder of the organization. “We file complaints. If we see something online, let’s say from the USDA, that would be breaking state codes, we’d contact law enforcement.”

Over the six years the group has been in operation, seven out of eight large commercial breeders in Michigan had their licenses revoked and were shut down, Sordyl said. Since then, the group shifted its focus to shutting down local outlets for out-of-state puppy mills and preventing new pet stores and mills from appearing in Michigan. “We’ve closed 11 stores since we started the group and the biggest ones, which we thought would be the biggest challenges, are showing signs of closing or going downhill,” Sordyl said. “We’ve accomplished some goals here and we have to move ahead of the game now.” Compared to other states, Michigan doesn’t have as large of a puppy mill presence. The HSUS annually releases its list of the 101 worst puppy mills in the United States, and only one — Chien d’Or kennel, a breeder of AKC golden retrievers in Oakland County — made the list. Missouri, despite approving a stronger puppy mill law in 2010, dominates the HSUS list with 22 problem puppy mills listed. Kansas, with 13, and Nebraska,

with 12, were next on the list. Most of the facilities in the HSUS report have been cited by federal or state inspectors for grave or repeated animal care violations, including: • A breeder in Missouri who admitted to leaving a gravely injured and nearly unresponsive Pomeranian lingering for three days without taking him to a veterinarian. • Four breeders who listed gunshot as a method of euthanasia on their official veterinary plans. • A breeder in Illinois who had five beagles euthanized rather than providing them with warmer shelter as directed by his inspector.

Oakland County Animal Control/HSUS photo

• A breeder in Missouri who was found with a dead, four-week-old Shih Tzu puppy frozen solid in the outdoor portion of an enclosure when overnight temperatures had recently been as low as minus-9 degrees. • Breeders who left their dogs exposed to heat indexes as high as 109 degrees

Golden retrievers are cramped in small cages at Chien d’Or, an Oakland County, Mich., kennel.

or bitter cold temperatures as low as 1 degree. Because Michigan has little legislation in place, puppy mill operators could return to the state, sources said. To stave off that possibility,

November/December 2014 Dogs Unleashed 19


A dog with an open wound at a facility in Missouri. Dogs with wounds and injuries were found at the kennel four years in a row.

animal advocates and State Rep. Michael McCready (R–Bloomfield Hills) introduced House Bill 5095 on Oct. 23, 2013. The bill aims to prevent Michigan from ever becoming a “puppy mill state.” “It would require that Michigan large-scale breeding facilities (facilities that have more than 15 intact breeding animals), get a license from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development,” Fritz said. “They have to adhere to some basic

standards of care for the animals and may only have a limit of 50 intact breeding animals on the property.” Legislators referred HB 5095 to a third reading in September and it now sits in the Michigan House, waiting to pass to the Senate. “I urge everyone to talk to their state legislators and urge them to support legislation for the licensing and regulation of dog breeding facilities,” Fritz said. “Michigan has some of the best animal cruelty laws in the country. We need to get some oversight on the books so it doesn’t become a puppy mill state.” EDUCATION, AWARENESS

The success of puppy mills all comes down to consumers unintentionally supporting the business, sources said. Stop Puppy Mills estimates there are about 9,000 independent pet stores in the U.S., about 3,000 of which sell puppies. Sordyl’s Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan estimates there are 30 stores in Michigan selling puppies.

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Sordyl gathers records of interstate Health Certificates collected by the Michigan Department of Agriculture, which document puppies from commercial breeders arriving to pet stores in Michigan. Her records show a West Michigan pet store taking in puppies from Indiana, Missouri and Minnesota over the past few years. “We don’t have a lot of commercial breeders here in Michigan, so if stores want a regular supply, they import them (from out of state),” Sordyl said. “They probably do get some litters from local breeders that are not licensed.” More and more, as awareness increases and the truth about puppy mills spreads, consumers turn away from pet stores and look to shelters and reputable breeders to buy their pets. “There are advocates all over,” Jenkins said. “Facebook is loaded with groups trying to educate about puppy mills. I think the word is out. We have a long way to go, but it’s definitely making progress.”


made in america

When getting involved in the fight to end puppy mills, it’s important to know how to find them. Here are some tips on spotting a puppy mill. • The owners are guarded. Puppy mill owners are careful about showing off their products. They often won’t show the rest of a litter, the parents or any of their other dogs to the prospective buyers. • There is an abundance of dogs. Large-scale breeding operations function to generate money, and by having many dogs to breed, their revenue increases. If there are more than 15 breeding dogs on a property, it’s likely it is a puppy mill. • The dogs live in poor conditions. Behind the scenes, the dogs live in crates or cages or some crowded, confined area. They don’t move around much and often are living in their own waste. • The dogs aren’t healthy. Dogs living in puppy mills can develop many problems, including defects from inbreeding and unsocial behavior because of their inhibited interaction or sickness from their environment and way of life. If you suspect a puppy mill operation in your area, contact law enforcement and animal control. They can do the initial work of removing the dogs from the property and getting help for the animals. To help prevent puppy mills, stay up to date on puppy mill news. Be on the lookout for new legislation and help support it in your area. Most importantly, stay educated and tell others about puppy mills. Spreading awareness is the key to crippling and shutting down the puppy mill business. Sources: HSUS, Kent County Animal Shelter

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interested people for the next available litter or can refer people to other responsible breeders or breed clubs.

• Sells puppies only to people he/ she has met in person, not to pet stores or to unknown buyers over the Internet.

The Humane Society of the United States encourages you to consider adoption from a shelter or rescue. If you choose to purchase a dog from a breeder, the following guidelines will help you make sure your dog comes from a responsible breeder instead of a puppy mill.

• Meets psychological and physical needs of their dogs by providing toys, socialization, exercise and enrichment as befits the specific breed.

• Encourages multiple visits and wants your entire family to meet the puppy.

n A responsible breeder:

• Has a strong relationship with one or more local veterinarians and shows you individual records of veterinary visits for your puppy.


puppy mills


• Allows you to visit and willingly shows you all areas where puppies and breeding dogs spend their time. Those areas are clean, spacious and well-maintained. • Has dogs who appear lively, clean and healthy, and don’t shy away from visitors. • Keeps their breeding dogs as you feel a responsible person would keep their pets: not overpopulated, crowded, dirty or continually confined to cages. • Keeps their dogs in roomy spaces that meet the needs of their particular breed. For example, most small breeds will be housed in the home, sporting breeds will have plenty of space for exercise, etc. (National breed clubs can provide input on the specific needs of each breed of dog.) • Breeds only one or a few types of dogs and is knowledgeable about the breeds and their special requirements. • Doesn’t always have puppies available but may keep a list of

• Encourages you to spend time with the puppy’s parents — at a minimum, the pup’s mother — when you visit.

• Explains in detail the potential genetic and developmental problems inherent to the breed and provides documentation that the puppy’s parents and grandparents have been professionally evaluated in an effort to breed those problems out of their puppies. (This will include testing for genetic diseases for which there are valid testing protocols available.) • Offers guidance for the care and training of your puppy and is available for assistance after you take your puppy home. • Provides references from other families who have previously purchased one of their puppies. • Is often actively involved with local, state and national clubs that specialize in the specific breed. Responsible breeders may also compete with the dogs in conformation events, obedience trials, tracking and agility trials, or other performance events.

• Provides you with a written contract and health guarantee and allows plenty of time for you to read it thoroughly. • Doesn’t require that you use a specific veterinarian. n A responsible breeder requires you to: • Explain why you want a dog. • Explain who in your family will be responsible for the pup’s daily care and training, where the dog will spend most of his or her time, and what “rules” have been decided upon for the puppy (for example, whether the dog will be allowed on furniture). • Provide proof from your landlord or condominium board (if you rent or live in a condominium complex) that you are allowed to have a dog. • Provide a veterinary reference if you have had other pets. • Sign a contract that you will spay or neuter the dog unless you will be actively showing him or her. • Sign a contract stating that you will return the dog to the breeder should you be unable to keep the dog at any point in the dog’s life. Source: puppymill

responsible breeders 22 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2014


puppy mill rescues

Comeback Canines Raised in a puppy mill, three Jack Russell terriers discover the good life in their adoptive homes Story by SUSAN HARRISON-WOLFFIS Photos by Jennifer waters


or the first four years of her life, the dog now known as Lexi had no name. She knew no measure of human kindness or contact. Her only shelter was a plastic pet carrier, no other protection from the elements, no place to run and jump and play the way Jack Russell terriers — by nature, such high-energy dogs — are born to do. When rescue workers seized her from a suspected puppy mill near Lake City, Mich., in May 2013, she was living in mud and ice, dirty, matted and terrified — one of 164 dogs and puppies on the premises.

Rescue workers from the ASPCA called the conditions “deplorable.” But the rescue — a dramatic undertaking by the Missaukee County Sheriff ’s Office, the Roscommon County Animal Shelter and the ASPCA — granted these dogs more than temporary relief from a horrible situation at JRT John’s Jack Russell and Shiba Inu Kennel. It guaranteed them a future. Now a family pet, adored and adopted by Ann and Art Brazee of Wyoming, Mich., Lexi is the very picture of health and happiness — a far cry from the dog whose sole purpose was to churn out litter after litter of puppies to be sold. “I can’t imagine what she went

through ... how she even lived,” said Art Brazee. After living in squalor, knowing no creature comforts, Lexi now has the run of the Brazee house. She sleeps on the sofa, on pillows, on laps — and a quirk of hers, on their feet — whenever she wants. She goes for walks, rides in the car, plays with the Brazee grandchildren, knows the neighborhood. “She’s such a good little girl,” said Ann Brazee. “She just melts my heart. Isn’t she beautiful? I mean, she’s adorable.” But getting to this point was not a simple journey. Nor was it an easy destination. Once the dogs were removed from two separate unlicensed breeding

November/December 2014 Dogs Unleashed 23

Ann and Art Brazee couldn’t resist Lexi, a Jack Russell rescued from a puppy mill who now has the run of the household.

facilities operated by John Jones in Missaukee County, the rescue team worked hard and fast to find them immediate medical care and temporary shelter, eventually placing them in several states in the Midwest. Both the Kent County Animal Shelter and the Humane Society of West Michigan stepped forward, opening their doors and hearts — not to mention their expertise in handling such cases — to the dogs and potential adoptive families.

Art Brazee says of Lexi, “It’s like she chose us.”

Six Jack Russell terriers went to HSWM for a new beginning. Fifteen more, including Lexi, arrived at the Kent County Animal Shelter. No Shiba Inus were relocated to West Michigan. It was important to size up the dogs medically, said Carly Luttmann, the animal shelter’s program supervisor. But equally as important was to start the socialization process. Until that day, Lexi — who was originally named “Fielder” by shelter workers in an effort to keep the incoming dogs straight — had never had any one-on-one contact with a human being, except to be fed. “These dogs had no idea about being a pet,” Luttmann said. “They needed a lot of socialization ... but we knew if we put our work into it, these dogs would make wonderful pets.” Lexi was “pretty scared” the day she came into the shelter. Luttmann remembers Lexi was neither the most fearful nor the most social of the group, but instinctively, she “sought comfort

24 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2014

from people.” And that was a good sign that one day, she could transition into a home. “Some of these dogs were broken to the point of suffering,” Luttmann said. When she was ready, Lexi was adopted by a family drawn to her sweet looks and gentle spirit. But after a few months, she was returned to the shelter. Shelter officials are careful how they report the return. “With these (puppy mill) dogs, you have to be prepared to be patient,” Luttmann said. “They have no idea about pet-human contact.” These are dogs who were not housebroken. They had never played fetch, never been inside a home alone for hours on end, never been on a leash or for a walk. THE RIGHT FIT

Back in the shelter for a second time, Lexi — still known as Fielder — waited. As it turns out, she was waiting for the Brazees. And they were waiting

“These dogs had no idea about being a pet. They needed a lot of socialization ... but we knew if we put our work into it, these dogs would make wonderful pets.” — Carly Luttmann for her. The Brazees’ 10-year-old English setter had died three months earlier. They went to the animal shelter to find not a replacement, but a new dog to love. They immediately noticed the pretty little rough-coated Jack Russell terrier with her soft ears and brown face, at first unsure if they dared take her. A note on her cage identified her as a puppy mill rescue who might come with “social problems.” So the Brazees went home empty-handed that first visit. But they came back twice more. They couldn’t resist her.

“She would just look at us, like she was saying, ‘Take me. Take me,’ ” Ann Brazee said. Art Brazee added, his words winding through his wife’s: “It’s like she chose us.” The Brazees were heartbroken over the death of their setter. They were lonely; the house was too empty, too quiet — until they brought home the dog who started life without a name. “We saved her, but she saved us, too,” said Ann Brazee. “She’s brought us so much joy.” Almost on cue, at this point in the conversation, Lexi — a 21-pound beauty — jumped into Art Brazee’s lap and settled down for a snooze until she was awakened by a car door slamming. She was on immediate alert, letting out a bark that sounded like a one-dog chorus of “oooh-oooh-ooohs.” The Brazees dissolved into laughter. When they adopted her in July 2013, Lexi was “mystified” by stairs, the television and, most of all, mirrors. She


puppy mill rescues

Lenny (right) is still timid, but gets along fine with the other dogs in his new home.

wasn’t housebroken, but the Brazees had the time, and the patience, to get her through. “A dog is a long-term commitment,” Art Brazee said, “not something that’s temporary. These dogs deserve a chance in life.” Just ask Colette Beighley of Grand Rapids. She and her partner, Jeff Smith,

Jeff Smith (left) at first frightened Lenny, but with patience and gentleness, the Jack Russell settled into Smith’s home with partner Colette Beighley. The couple also adopted another special-needs Jack Russell, Izzy (in Beighley’s lap).

November/December 2014 Dogs Unleashed 25

Kaila Antonini saw the potential in Helios after a previous owner gave up on him.

took on the most traumatized dog from the puppy mill rescue — a male Jack Russell terrier named Lennon by workers at the Humane Society of West Michigan. Unlike Lexi, who was social enough to make eye contact with the Brazees, Lenny — as Beighley and Smith nicknamed Lennon — cowered in the back of his kennel at the Humane Society, hiding under his bed. Beighley, who’d read about him on HSWM’s website, remembers sobbing as she went through his story. She and Smith were the first people to even look at him in three months. “When they brought him out for us to meet, they told us: Don’t look at him. No eye contact. Don’t touch him,” Beighley said. “That’s how frightened he was.” Beighley offered to foster Lenny, who just turned 8, until the right family came along. But the day they wrapped the little dog in a towel and got in the car to take him home, Beighley said, “I knew this was a one-way trip.”

She and her family decided they had “no expectations” of a dog who’d had such a rough beginning in life. “He was most comfortable under the coffee table,” Beighley said. “I decided if that’s where he wanted to be, at least he was safe, at least he was loved.” For months, he was frightened of Smith, but the couple treated Lenny with patience and an unending source of gentleness. Still shy, Lenny now waits his turn — there are four other dogs in the house — and looks forward to special attention, alone time, every night with Beighley and Smith. He even stands at the end of the bed, his paws on the bedspread, to get to the couple: a miracle. “He’s a good little soul,” Beighley said. “You know, so many times during the day, we think he’s being brave ... everything he does takes being brave.” Lyndsey Kubik, an obedience instructor at the Humane Society, said Lenny was “the most fearful” of the dogs rescued.

26 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2014

“We have no idea what these dogs have been through,” she said. They come with behavioral issues, Kubik said, “but I’ve never seen a puppy mill dog get snappy. They don’t even have those skills. When they’re stressed, they go straight to shutting down ... like Lenny did at first.” PATIENCE REQUIRED

Again, the key word for potential adopters is patience. And time. Doesn’t Kaila Antonini know it. A groomer at All-Star Grooming and Training in Fruitport, she hadn’t planned on adopting a puppy mill dog. But one day, a customer showed up with one of the puppies rescued in Missaukee County. The customer told Antonini that the dog was “too much work.” “She gave me a bag of his stuff and basically said: Here’s a dog for you,” Antonini said. Antonini saw the potential in the dog she named Helios. She already had one dog at home, and she thought a

“These dogs are amazingly resilient to what people have put them through,” — Carly Luttmann second one would give him company. But it was work. “When I got (Helios), he wasn’t housebroken. He had no manners. He’d jump up on the table. He had no boundaries. My fiancé was so pissed ... but I said you’ve got to give him some time,” Antonini said. “And he turned out to be a great dog. He’s a great dog.” Like so many dogs born and bred in puppy mills, Helios has some health issues. He only has a quarter of the teeth that other dogs have. He sunburns easily, and he’s small for a Jack Russell — weighing in only at 12 pounds. “I’ve never seen anything so crazy,” Antonini said, “but he’s the nicest dog. I think sometimes rescue dogs are the nicest dogs.”

For the Brazees, that’s certainly so. Lexi “fits their need,” Art Brazee said. His wife added: “We just love her to pieces.” As for Beighley, she takes heart in Lenny’s adjustment, slow and steady, to a household of people and pets. “He’s very happy to be part of a family,” Beighley said. “That’s what we can offer him.” Their stories are told over and over again, Luttmann said, with different names, different situations whenever a dog is rescued. “These dogs are amazingly resilient to what people have put them through,” Luttmann said. Just thinking about the conditions Lenny, Lexi and Helios survived — unprotected, with little access to clean water, minimal food, no veterinary care — causes Beighley to tear up. “It says a lot about them: their spirits, their personalities,” she said, “and we’re the ones who get to give them a home. It’s pretty amazing. All the way around, it’s pretty amazing.”


puppy mill rescues

Helios often spends the day at work in the grooming salon with Kaila Antonini.

November/December 2014 Dogs Unleashed 27


dog day in the park | artprize


A little yawn from a little dog awaiting the costume contest at Dog Day in the Park.



An owner coaxes her dog through the obstacle course at Dog Day in the Park.

One of the highlights of the annual Dog Day in the Park at Riverside Park in Grand Rapids is the dog costume contest. Just ask this dog, dressed as a banana split.

Photos by jennifer waters


This longhaired Dachshund donned a grass skirt and lei for her hula girl costume at Dog Day in the Park.

28 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2014


DogCity USA was an ArtPrize entry from Jennifer Waters, staff photographer for Dogs Unleashed Magazine. It promotes the idea of making Grand Rapids more dog friendly by showing dogs having fun at recognizable downtown landmarks.


I Love My Rescue, by Martha Cares, is the latest installment in her series of brightly-colored steel sculptures that are meant to bring awareness to the joy of adopting and rescuing pets.


Big Dogs, by C. Marcus Stone, is a whimsical painting featuring party dogs surrounded by toy balls of various sizes, colors and patterns.


Sitting Pretty Until ... Squirrel!, by Janet Hampton, is comprised of family-owned dogs â&#x20AC;&#x201D; seven of which were adopted.


The Mudpuppy, by Dan Chudzinski, depicts a diver taking his pet bulldog for a walk on the ocean floor.

November/December 2014 Dogs Unleashed 29

the tail end


They opened their home, and hearts, to dogs in need They had two dogs. That’s the beauty of this story. Two years ago, Colette Beighley and her partner, Jeff Smith, lived happily on the northeast edge of Grand Rapids with two old pooches — senior citizens, she calls them — Moo, a soft-coated Wheaton terrier who was 11 at the time, and Ramona, a mixed-breed rescue who was 9. But like so many people who love dogs, Beighley and Smith knew they had room to love one more. So Beighley searched the Humane Society of West Michigan’s website, looking for just the right dog to fit into the family. She wasn’t drawn to the prettiest face or the liveliest personality or puppy. Instead, Beighley fell in love with a dog named Lennon, rescued from a puppy mill in Lake City, Mich. He was the most frightened, the most traumatized dog Beighley ever laid eyes on. But there was something about Lenny that tugged at her heart, and she and Smith decided even if he never overcame the years of trauma and neglect he’d suffered at the puppy mill, even if he cowered beneath the coffee table and never came out, he was theirs. They would love him, no matter what, and keep him safe for the rest of his life. And so, Beighley and Smith had Moo, Ramona and Lenny, who just turned 8 — and believe it or not, the house still seemed a little empty. So they decided to temporarily foster dogs from HSWM through the organization’s Weekend with Fido program. The idea was to give certain dogs a break from the shelter. Volunteers take them home for a weekend, give them a lot of attention and, as Beighley puts it, “create a narrative” about the dog — a story to tell to prospective owners. Beighley had a dog in mind that she wanted to take home, but he wasn’t quite ready to leave the shelter. The

staff suggested she and Smith take home a 70-pound pitbull mix named Leo instead. She was cautious about a dog that big and that breed — “I want to like pitbulls,” she told people, “but I have my reservations.” Once home, she discovered “what a sweetheart” Leo is; that “he’s a great guy.” Beighley remembers saying at the time: “He’ll make someone a great dog some day.” Famous last words. They were just going to foster Leo until the right someone came along, but Beighley’s daughter, Chloe, fell in love with Leo, and so Beighley and Smith had four dogs: Moo, Ramona, Lenny and Leo. But they weren’t quite done. About a year ago, Beighley told Smith she was thinking about adopting a deaf dog. She’d been reading about a rescue group called Poet’s Vision Aussie Rescue based in Perth, Canada. She saw a “glamour shot” of a pretty little rough-coated Jack Russell terrier named Isabelle, who is deaf and has severe vision problems, rescued from a “highkill” shelter in North Carolina. As soon as she joined the family, Izzy, who will turn 1 in December, made it clear that Leo is hers — she bosses him around like she’s the big dog in the family. “She has a very strong personality,”

Photo by jennifer waters

Leo, a pitbull mix, was supposed to be a temporary foster but ended up a member of the family.

Photo by jennifer waters

Beighley says. “She’s very smart, very responsive … and definitely the alpha dog.” Because she can’t hear, Beighley and Smith have started teaching Izzy hand signals — commands to sit and stay and behave. They tell her “good dog” and ask her to shake, all with hand signals. Izzy’s veterinarians predict she will lose her eyesight, so the couple has started what they call “touch training,” teaching her the ropes with a touch of the hand. Undaunted by the challenges of owning a blind and deaf dog, Beighley and Smith leave a trail for her to follow — lavender oil on the stairs; scented candles in the bedroom. Smith, who teaches at Grand Valley State University but works from home a lot, is the “consistent presence” for the dogs. Beighley, director of GVSU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center, is the heart. “These dogs really open up conversations — about puppy mills, stereotypes about pitbulls, about dogs with special needs,” Beighley said. “But you know? Here’s what we see: These dogs are our family, and we just love them. Each one is so special, really, so special. I don’t know what we’d do without them.”

Izzy, (front), who is deaf and has severe vision problems, and Lenny, who came from a puppy mill, each found their way into the home of Colette Beighley and Jeff Smith.

Susan Harrison-Wolffis is an award-winning journalist, retired from newspaper work after more than 40 years. Contact her at

30 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2014

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Dogs Unleashed – Nov. – Dec. 2014  

A lifestyle magazine for dog lovers

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