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September/October 2015

a lifestyle magazine for dog lovers

TO THE RESCUE Meet five facets of animal advocacy:

• Salvation for Spanish sighthounds • Saving senior dogs • Flying Fidos to freedom • Teaching humane education • A second chance for Greyhounds Vol. 4, No. 1

f ree!

2 Dogs Unleashed September/October 2015

who we are

Publisher: 2U Ventures, LLC 8323 Cleveland St. W Coopersville, MI 49404 Managing Editor: Mary Ullmer Creative Director: Kevin Kyser Advertising Consultant: Kim Wood 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 2U Ventures LLC/ Dogs Unleashed, 8323 Cleveland St. W, Coopersville, MI, 49404 To advertise in Dogs Unleashed, contact All material published in Dogs Unleashed is copyrighted © by 2U Ventures, LLC. 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. Find us online! Facebook: DogsUnleashedMagazine

Proudly printed in West Michigan by: Rogers Printing Inc. 3350 Main St., Ravenna, MI 49451

Mary Ullmer (Managing Editor) has more than 30 years of experience in print and digital media. She currently is an associate editor with ESPN Internet Ventures and previously worked for the Grand Rapids Press, Chicago Tribune, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader and Muskegon Chronicle. Email her at Kevin Kyser (Creative Director), owns Kyser Design Werks, a design, branding and marketing firm. Kevin and his wife Jody have four children, four cats and a 150-pound Lab/ Rottweiler/New Foundland mix named Gus. Email him at kevin@ Jennifer Waters (Photographer), owns Grumpy Pups Pet Photography. She also is a freelance writer who credits her three boxers – the original “grumpy pups” for her love of working with animals. View her work at or email her at Kim Wood (Advertising Consultant) is a former high school and college instructor and a lifelong freelance


writer. She is the Executive Director of K-9 Care Crew of the Lakeshore and a certified Tester/Observer for Therapy Dogs Incorporated. She is owned by her two registered therapy dogs, Sammy & Hannah. Email her at

contributors Writing: Susan Harrison-Wolffis (The Matchmaker, The Tail End), Dr. Doreen Comrie (Ask the Vet), Paul R. Kopenkoskey (Racing to the Rescue), David LeMieux (Pilot Program), Linda Odette (Fetch), Kristie Swan (PawsAbility), Melissa VerPlank (The Groom Room), Jennifer Waters (From Spain with Love, She Just Loves Dogs), Tricia Woolfenden (Attitude Adjustment) Copy editing: Linda Odette

TO SUBSCRIBE To have Dogs Unleashed delivered to your home, send a check ($24 for 1-year subscription, $36 for 2 years) payable to: 2U Ventures, LLC/Dogs Unleashed 8323 Cleveland St. W Coopersville, MI 49404

on the cover

4 Canine Calendar 6 Fetch! 8 Ask the Vet 10 The Groom Room

12 Paws-Ability 14 Rescue: International Adoption 18 Rescue: Fostering Sighthounds 21 Rescue: Fostering Pilots N Paws 24 Rescue: Vicky’s Pet Connection 26 Rescue: Humane Society 28 Rescue: Allies for Greyhounds Gracing our cover this issue is Talco, a Podenco rescued from Spain and adopted by Tonya Christiansen of Grand Haven. 30 The Tail End

photo by Jennifer waters

September/October 2015 Dogs Unleashed 3


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:



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) 722-3721 or (616) 844-4200. Also held Oct. 6.


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) 791-8066 or Also held Oct. 13.

4 Dogs Unleashed September/October 2015


Pooches & People Picnic, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Scolnik Healing Center, 888 Terrace St., Muskegon. The third annual event features a dog walk around downtown Muskegon, vendors, dog art and activities, microchipping and homemade dog treats, Muskegon County K9 Unit and more. Proceeds benefit the Scolnik Healing Center’s Mercy Health Hospice and Fur-Ever Rehoming Trust.


Muskegon Humane Society’s 5K Dash for Dogs, 10 a.m., Spring Lake Holiday Inn, 940 W. Savidge, Spring Lake. Live music, exhibitor booths, food and beer are included in the second annual event. Registration is $30 in advance and $35 on race day. Race begins at 11 a.m., and participants receive a T-shirt and goody bag. Register at or by calling (231) 773-8689.


Ride to the Rescue Poker Run, 11 a.m., BooYahs Sports Bar, 6022 Harvey St., Muskegon. A poker run for cars or motorcyles to benefit Noah Project of Muskegon. Registration is 11 a.m. to

1 p.m. at BooYahs, with run beginning at 1 p.m. Stops include Marine Tap Room, Canary Inn and Red Rooster Tavern before returning to BooYahs. Events include live music, food, poker ($100 for highest hand), silent and live auction. Cost is $15 donation for each vehicle and $10 for additional passengers. Register by calling BooYahs at (231) 798-9900.


Noah Project 5K Dog Walk, 2 p.m., Central Park, Spring Lake. Sixth annual event benefits Noah Project of Muskegon. Pledge forms available through All pledges must be paid in full at the start of the dog walk to be eligible for prizes. All registered participants (you may register on day of the event) with a minimum donation of $10 receive a Noah Project T-shirt.


Paws 2 Remember, 6 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 Oct. 19.




Congrats to the grant recipients who will benefit from funds raised by this year’s BISSELL Blocktail Party. The annual event, which celebrated its 10th anniversary, raised a whopping $500,000-plus to support the BISSELL Pet Foundation.

Run Forrest Run, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Bellwether Harbor Animal Shelter, 7645 West 48th St., Fremont. The 11th annual event to help introduce people to Bellwether Harbor includes vendors, demonstrations, games, contests, a dog wash, lowcost microchipping and food. For information, visit, email contactus@bellweatherharbor. org or call (231) 924-9230.


Bark in the Dark, 7 p.m., Riverside Park, 2001 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids. The Humane Society of West Michigan’s annual event welcomes people and dogs for the glow-in-the-dark 5K walk/ run. Participants are encouraged to bring their dogs. Dogs must be able to handle being around other dogs and people, up to date on vaccines and leashed. Registration is at 6 p.m. and is $30 for adults before Oct. 8 and $35 after. Children under 5 enter free, and youth ages 5 to 17 is $10. Register at or call (616) 4538900, ext. 226.

The BISSELL Pet Foundation announced Aug. 13 that 19 organizations working to save pets in West Michigan will receive grants. A complete list of the recipients and grant amounts: • Community Spay Neuter Initiative Partnership (C-SNIP): $52,500 • Harbor Humane Society: $32,437 • Humane Society of West Michigan: $31,652 • Kent County Animal Shelter: $28,480.27* • West Michigan Spay & Neuter Clinic: $22,000 • Mackenzie’s Animal Sanctuary: $20,000 • Vicky’s Pet Connection: $20,000 • Pound Buddies Animal Shelter & Adoption Center: $19,485 • Carol’s Ferals: $15,000 • McCloud’s Lake Haven: $14,000 • Al-Van Humane Society: $13,024 • Ionia County Animal Shelter: $10,000 • Montcalm County Animal Shelter: $9,950 • Safe Haven Humane Society: $7,800 • Crash’s Landing & Big Sid’s Sanctuary: $6,150* • Kelley’s Heart to Heart Adoption Center: $5,700 • Pay It Forward Outreach: $5,000 • Reuben’s Room Cat Rescue: $4,600 • Focus on Ferals: $3,959 *A portion of this grant includes re-allocation of funds awarded in 2014






What it is: Our Perfect Companions Never Have Fewer Than Four Feet is a journal that’s perfect for keeping track of your dog’s milestones and mischief. You’ll have to help with the writing, of course.

STOP THE WET DOG SHAKE What it is: The packable rain poncho by RC Pets keeps your pooch dry. But wait, there’s more: It’s made of waterproof taffeta and comes in several colors and sizes. There’s also a hole in the coat for the dog’s leash, and it folds into a pouch with a clipon belt loop. Fetch it: RC Pets products are available at various sites online or at local retailers Chow Hound Pet Supplies and Must Love Dogs in Grand Haven. The rain poncho is available for $12 to $15.

PLAYING WITH THEIR FOOD What it is: This interactive dog bowl made by Aikiou requires your dog to use his nose and paws to turn the wheel and get to his food. But wait, there’s more: The bowl’s design encourages your dog to eat more slowly, which reduces digestive problems and helps prevent weight problems. Fetch it: It’s $39.95 at

6 Dogs Unleashed September/October 2015

But wait, there’s more: Fun dog sayings — like “To Err is Human, To Forgive is Canine” — separate sections. Fetch it: Get it at for $6.25 or buy local at Schuler Books and Music, 2660 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids.

PICTURES TELL THE STORY What it is: Nice Nosing You, a book featuring Noodles, Scout and Loli, the adorable dogs of photographer Elke Vogelsang. But wait, there’s more: Aside from great photos by the famous animal photographer, the book also tells the inspirational story of how the dogs saved her husband’s life and helped him recover. A Huffington Post review says Vogelsang “has taken dog portraits to a new level.” Fetch it: Buy it for $26.95 at bookstores or $18.03 at

HELP YOUR OLD DOG GET UP AND GO What it is: Watson’s Bottom’s Up Leash provides rear-end support for older dogs. But wait, there’s more: The leash supports dogs weighing up to 125 pounds. Fetch it: Order it for $34.95 at Watson’s Senior Pet Supplies,




WALK I N NAI L TRIMS WELCOME $5.00. September/October 2015 Dogs Unleashed 7

Before making the leap, make sure you’re ready for a dog Some questions I’m frequently asked are: Should I buy a puppy or adopt a dog? Should I get an adult dog, or is that inviting “baggage” problems? These questions bring up many others that only you as a prospective pet owner can answer for your unique situation. Here are a few things to consider before making a decision not only on where to find a new canine companion, but also what you need to consider to make for a successful lifelong companionship. 1. Is your family supportive and on board to share in the responsibilities? If a spouse is not really looking forward to having a dog and thinks the responsibility will be

all on you, chances are you will have some stressful times surrounding a new pet. Will your work or school schedule require other family members to provide dog care duties? It is important the whole family is willing to give what it takes, especially with a rescued dog who needs a calm and consistent environment. Many dogs are put up for adoption simply because all family members are not truly accepting of the dog and the responsibilities that come with owning a dog. 2. Is your home environment dog ready? Do you have an acceptable safe place for the pet to exercise and go outside? Is the house set up for a place indoors where the pet can rest quietly and be safely contained, especially while transitioning to the household, to avoid bodily injury or damage to the home? While a busy household with children, toys to chew, food left on counters, noise and high energy may

Give your pets the comfort they deserve.

In-Home pet hospice, geriatric pet care, and euthanasia for companion animals. • Pain Management & Assessment • Nutrition Management • Medication Administration • Hospice/End of Life care • In-Home Euthanasia • Dr. Laurie Brush, DVM, member of IAAHPC• (616) 498-1316 8 Dogs Unleashed September/October 2015

be stimulating and fun for some dogs, it may be a stressful nightmare for an anxious rescued dog and a stressful situation for the whole family. 3. Can you afford the financial responsibility? If you are not able to provide the dog with good food, vaccinations, veterinary preventive care and appropriate medical care if the dog becomes ill, you are not rescuing the dog. Nothing is more heartbreaking than seeing a dog that could be treated, cured and able to live a long life be subjected to minimal care, sometimes chronic pain and guilt on the part of the owner having to make the choice of providing for the human family over the dog’s care. 4. What is your energy level? Many people ask what breed they should get. While a breed description can suggest certain traits the dog will have, we need to recognize there are extremes

Serving Muskegon and Ottawa counties Helping Pet Parents Understand Pet Cremation & Burial Plans Also offering

Pet Loss Grief Support

Jodi M. Clock, owner/president 1469 Peck Street • Muskegon, MI 49441 (231) 722-3721


within any breed. If you are not willing to exercise yourself daily, spend time training and take a stance of being a leader to a high-energy or dominate dog, it is likely your relationship with that dog will fail. High-energy dogs need exercise and training, and that requires a commitment of time, a suitable means to help dissipate the energy, consistent obedience and followthrough by everyone in the family. 5. Is a puppy or an older dog better for your family situation? Both puppies and old dogs need more one-on-one time. It can be very rewarding adopting an older dog that can live out its life in a loving home. Be prepared for older dogs needing more attention, assistance getting up to go outside to relieve itself and more medical care. An older dog may have increasing anxieties. Puppies need supervised training and may have more

expenses for preventive care and spay/ neutering surgery during the first year. 6. What about other pets in the household? Is your current pet’s temperament receptive to bringing a new dog into the pack? Dogs and cats may start urinating in the home when a new pet is introduced. Even an otherwise gentle dog may bite a puppy if it comes near the food dish and may show aggression when its territory is pressed. On the flip side, bringing a young dog into the house can be beneficial with an older dog already in the home. The new younger dog may learn and develop similar behavioral traits to those expressed by the older dog. Older dogs in the house may act young again, and when the sad time comes for the older dog to pass, the new dog can help to fill the void of losing your old companion. Before you decide whether to


add a canine to your pack, don’t react emotionally. Instead, take a careful look at why you want a dog and honestly decide if a dog would be happy in your home. Dr. Doreen Comrie-Bristol graduated in 1988 from the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She worked for many years in private practice before opening Rogue Valley Veterinary Hospital in 1999. Her special interest in competing, training and hunting with Labrador retrievers led her to gain more knowledge in the healthcare and special medical challenges of performance and sporting dogs. Dr. Comrie is certified by the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program to perform PENN Hip analysis, and in 2007 she completed certification as a Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner through the University of Tennessee. Her primary focus is in the sports medicine and canine physical rehabilitation unit, a subspecialty of RVVH, called K-9 Sports Med-Hab.

Steve Leafers, RPh

Two great locations for all your grooming needs! 1107 Washington Ave Grand Haven, MI 49417 616.850.0035 $5 nail trims every Thursday

1891 Lakeshore Drive Muskegon, MI 49441 231.759.2156 $5 nail trims every Monday

Fellow, American College of Veterinary Pharmacists

We make treats that treat!

Working with your veterinarian to deliver safe, effective, and palatable medications for your pet. Phone (231) 683-1708 Email:


1391 E. Sherman Blvd. Muskegon, MI 49444 (Across the street from Mercy Hospital) September/October 2015 Dogs Unleashed 9

the groom room

melissa verplank

Understanding variety, interpretation of ‘puppy cut’ style “I want a ‘puppy cut.’ ” Owners love this haircut on their pets. Groomers despise it. Not the haircut itself, just the name. Dog owners routinely walk into a salon and ask for this trim by name. That’s fine. But here’s the frustrating part. There is not a consistent right way to do a puppy cut. There are many variations. The puppy cut is one of the most popular haircuts. It works well on a wide variety of dogs, from Shih Tzus to Doodles, Pomeranians to Bichons. Almost any breed with a longer coat can be done in this easy-to-care-for style. The puppy cut also is the most misunderstood haircut. There are no clear directions of what this trim actually is or how it should be done. It’s left up to interpretation by pet owners, groomers or talented pet stylists. The puppy cut started out as a trim style for poodles. The puppy cut is a specific trim used on young poodles in the dog show world. Once the puppy turns a year old, it’s put into its elaborate adult haircut for the conformation ring. Today, the term puppy cut is used loosely. It can apply to a wide variety of breeds. It’s highly adaptable to any size of dog. Coats can be curly, wavy or straight. Almost any purebred or mixed breed looks appealing in a puppy cut. Many owners love this style of trim. It can be very cute, it’s easy to care for, and it’s versatile. That’s a winwin-win for any busy family. The dog does not drag in dirt and debris from outdoors. Its ears do not hang in the food or water dish. Brushing between groomings is minimized. And on smaller pets, bathing between grooming appointments is a breeze. When done

courtesy photo

The puppy cut originally was a specific trim used on young poodles in the dog show world.

well, a puppy cut can be extremely attractive to boot. So, what is it? Essentially, the puppy cut is one length all over. The most common length is between 1-2 inches over all the body — legs, tail, head and ears. Typically, it’s done with a clipper fitted with a long guard comb over the blade. There should not be any clipper marks, uneven coat or sharp edges left in the fur. Everything is soft and plush, like a fluffy puppy. However, the term “puppy cut” can be tricky. In some circles, the puppy cut also is known as the “teddy bear trim,” “summer cut” or “kennel cut.” Generally, what changes between these trims is the length of coat. It’s important to keep this in mind.

10 Dogs Unleashed September/October 2015

One person’s interpretation of a puppy cut might be that of a smooth-coated puppy — think boxer, pug or beagle. Another person’s interpretation might be that of a fluffier breed like a Shih Tzu, Bichon or poodle. And keep in mind there’s a big difference between a 4-week-old puppy and a 10-week-old puppy in terms of coat growth. With all the interpretations, there is a wide variance of what your dog will look like in a puppy cut. If you are requesting this trim for the first time, be prepared to discuss your desires in detail to the groomer or pet stylist. Do not leave it up to them. Communication is the key to get the cut you have in your mind. Here is a list of talking points when considering a puppy cut your dog.

• In general, what is the look you are hoping for? Something smooth and sleek so it’s easy to care for? Or something that makes your dog look slightly fluffy, plush and super cute? • What is the lifestyle of your dog? Active? Sedentary? City dweller? Enjoys outdoor activities? • What is the texture and coat density of your dog? Fine, thin coats will look shorter than dense-coated dogs even with the same length clipper blade. • How much length do you want left on the body? What about on the legs? Feet? • What type of head style would you prefer? • Depending on your pet’s ear set, ear styles can change dramatically — dropped ears or pricked and pointed. How do you want them styled? Long? Short? Somewhere in between? • Do you want a long coat left on the tail or trimmed down to match the body? Or something in between?

Ask your pet-care specialist for advice about what works best for your dog. Based on the condition of the coat and your pet’s body structure, they may have some valuable suggestions. A skilled pet professional will know how to make minor changes to the trim to enhance the appeal of your fur baby. Maybe your pet’s coat is too tangled to do the longer trim today. Your groomer will have suggestions on how to modify it so it works, while discussing options for future trims. To keep your dog looking its best, the stylist will advise you how to best maintain this haircut between grooming appointments. At-home brushing and bathing can make a big difference in how your dog looks and smells. The groomer also can make suggestions on how often the trim should be done based on your pet’s lifestyle and coat texture. Remember, your pet-care specialist will be happy to customize the trim that will work for both you and your pooch. There is a good reason the puppy cut is one of the most popular trims in grooming salons around the country. There are many, many variations.

courtesy photo

The many variations of the puppy cut make it a popular for several breeds, including Yorkshire terriers.

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.

September/October 2015 Dogs Unleashed 11



Frannie and Pete, part of Project 616, slow to find their forever homes Project 616 was a special program to train shelter dogs and prepare them for adoption. The idea behind the 6-1-6 is: Six dogs, one mission, six weeks… or so. As it is with rescue, seldom is everything on schedule and without challenges. While four dogs from Project 616, featured in the July/August issue of Dogs Unleashed, were adopted on schedule, one took a bit longer and one remains in the program. Bella, Buddha, Tobias and Gia all moved into their new

homes and began bonding with their forever families. The process has not been without challenges. All six dogs were in need of training. Not all circumstances are present in every environment, and until the dog is able to bond and build a relationship, the level of trust needed to work well together will lag a bit. Part of this program has been with that understanding, and training support is provided even after adoption. The two dogs that remained in the program suffer from two common stigmas that prevent dogs from being adopted from shelters and rescues. These issues are widely recognized in shelter and rescue work and have nothing to do with the dog’s ability to

learn or accept training. The dogs have no control over these issues. One issue is age. Sadly, elderly dogs are surrendered to shelters when their owners find medical expenses are either more than they can handle or not a priority. Frannie, our happy, silly, elderly gal, is somewhere between 8 and 10 years old. Her dental state when she came to Project 616 was dire. She needed a cleaning and a couple of extractions. She also had skin issues, which quickly cleared up with a change of diet. At her age, signs of arthritis are not surprising, and it is doubtful she had any preventative joint support. She often forgets her age and bounces around playfully and, like her human

Building success at both ends of the leash

Classes for all stages of development Including Sports and Fitness classes Private training options to fit your schedule    

In home or on site Problem behavior resolution Board & Train- one on one training while you are away Play & Train- make the most of your dog's daycare time

(616) 575-5660 12 Dogs Unleashed September/October 2015

counterparts, gets up a little more slowly from the subsequent nap. But the aches and slow rebounds never prevent her spirit from shining through. The second issue plaguing shelter dogs is BBD, Big Black Dog syndrome, the category into which our buddy Pete fell. Pete, who was finally adopted after 8 weeks in the program, made incredible behavioral strides during his training with Project 616. He gets along well with other dogs of all sizes and ages. He is

photo by jennifer waters

Frannie, a senior who needed dental work, is still looking for her forever home.

young (about a year and a half), athletic, jovial and not too big (45 pounds). Pete’s head and most of his body are black, which makes it difficult to distinguish in photos the kind of facial expressions that draw potential adopters to homeless pets. Nationwide organizations hold special events, like Best Friends Animal Sanctuary’s “Back in Black” event, showcasing black dogs because they tend to have more difficulty in adopting them out. The point here is not to draw attention to Frannie and Pete alone. Instead, consider the greater scope of dogs in rescue. The big picture is the number of homeless pets in shelters and rescues. Within that picture is a myriad of individual stories and issues for these pets to overcome. Both Frannie and Pete blossomed and grew within the training program. Both have shown their desire to connect and bond with the people around them. Pete finally met someone to show off his enthusiasm, sense of humor and newfound skills. Frannie, and others like

Pets Agree.

Pet-Agree is more than just dog walking and pet sitting

photo by jennifer waters

Pete finally was adopted a few weeks after the project ended.

her, will need a home that will understand the needs of an aging senior pet. If you are interested in giving Frannie that loving and caring home, you’ll find a link to an adoption application at 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 kswan@

You have a Choice... There is a Difference.

Pet Funeral Home • Cremation • Cemetery 24 Hour Emergency Services

Your Pets’ Personal Assistant! Call 616-633-9902

616-538-6050 Trusted For Over 40 Years 2755 64th Street SW Byron Center, MI 49315 September/October 2015 Dogs Unleashed 13


Lila, a Galga (female Galgo) in Spain, is comforted by Amanda Patenaude during a volunteer vacation.


From Spain with love Photo courtesy Travis Patenaude

International adoption gives Spanish Galgos a chance for a happy life



he customs agent at Chicago O’Hare International Airport finally asked what everyone seemed to be thinking. “I don’t mean to be rude, but don’t we already have enough dogs here?” As I handed him the passports for the four large dogs I had met 10 hours earlier in Madrid, Spain — and escorted into the U.S. on the way back from a family vacation — I smiled and told him it wasn’t rude at all. It was a great question, one that gets to the heart of the debate over international dog rescue. America has its own problems with too many dogs and not enough homes for them all. Why would I make that problem worse by adding four more from Spain?

It was a question I had asked myself months earlier while planning this trip. Finding the answer took me on a journey into a heartbreaking and unbelievable world that I never knew existed — but that I had the power to change, one dog at a time. rare breeds Meet the Spanish Galgo. Also known as the Spanish greyhound, this ancient hunting dog is known for its speed and ability to chase down prey, specifically hares. While the Galgos look and often act like a greyhound, they are a distinct breed. Unlike the greyhound, which benefits from a nationwide network of breed-specific rescues dedicated to rescuing and adopting them after their racing careers are over, Galgos have

14 Dogs Unleashed September/October 2015

very little protection or resources. It is estimated that more than 45,000 Galgos are killed each year by the Spanish hunters that raise them. Galgos are not seen as pets in Spain, despite their gentle nature and love of a comfy couch. While we have become accustomed to some level of advocacy for animals in the U.S., including animal protection laws, spay/neuter campaigns and generous donors keeping shelter doors open, the situation in Spain is different. In a country well known for its defense of bullfighting as a form of entertainment, there is a real lack of legislation to protect animals. And there is a strong hunting culture with a deep interest in protecting itself from reprisal and change. The result is disastrous. According to the rescue organizations that work

both in Spain and the U.S. on the Galgos’ behalf, the average life span of a working Spanish Galgo is 2 to 3 years old. Once the dogs are no longer winning the hunts — or even if they get too good at the hunt and take all the fun out of it for the hunter — they are discarded. A dog that performs poorly or shames his hunter, or galguero, earns a violent, painful death. It is not uncommon to find them dangling from trees, tossed to the bottom of wells or dumpsters, or left in perreras (high-kill dog pounds). Many are found wandering the countryside, starving, injured and scavenging to survive. SAVING ONE DOG AT A TIME Leena was one of the lucky ones. Her galguero was planning to hang her, but a woman passing by stepped in to save the dog’s life. Leena was passed on to SOS Galgos in Barcelona and eventually transported to the U.S. She was adopted by Travis and Amanda Patenaude of Illinois. Longtime greyhound rescuers and advocates, the Patenaudes adopted Leena sight unseen — largely because of her history and their desire to help the Galgos in some small way. Their experience with Leena, and their willingness to delve into a sad and disturbing situation instead of turning away, led them to found Love, Hope, Believe Galgo Adoption, Inc. (LHB Galgo) in 2013. Today, LHB Galgo works

with rescue organizations in Spain and the U.S. to transport a handful of dogs each year, foster them back to health, and find them loving homes. LHB Galgo is the organization that arranged my transport from Madrid to Chicago. Thanks to its efforts, we were able to turn a family vacation into a rescue mission for four dogs: Jordan, Kisko, Paloma and Don Johnson. As their flight patrons, my family agreed to attach the dogs to our tickets, check them in, get them past security and then claim them upon arrival in Chicago. Once there, we delivered the dogs to the waiting arms of Travis Patenaude and fellow Galgo volunteers, then caught a connecting flight from Chicago home to Grand Rapids. Those who know the plight of the Galgos — and have the passion to get involved — will tell you Jordan, Kisko, Paloma and Don Johnson had almost no chance had they stayed in Spain. The Patenaudes have visited Spain to see the situation for themselves and to spend time at the Galgo shelters. During one trip, they went out on nightly searches for Galgos in need of help. In one week, they found five dead Galgos: Three were found tied up in bags, two were at the bottom of a well. There will be tens of thousands more just like them each winter after hunting season ends, and a culture of indifference and lack of legal prosecution that keeps the Galgo from having a fair shot in its home country

courtesy photo Travis Patenaude

Clara, a female Galgo, spends her time in a Spanish animal shelter while awaiting either adoption or transport to the United States.

courtesy photo Travis Patenaude

Amanda Patenaude, with Lila, and her husband Travis founded Love, Hope, Believe Galgo Adoption, Inc.

will remain. “Dogs are abused everywhere in the world, but in the U.S. we have laws,” Amanda Patenaude said. “People get prosecuted for this. In Spain, everybody just turns a blind eye because all the authority figures are hunters. Nobody wants to get someone else in trouble, nobody wants to shine a light on being a galguero.” AWARENESS OVER ADOPTION Since 2013, LHB Galgo has transported 24 dogs into the U.S., being careful not to bring more in until the previous dogs have been adopted. In international adoptions, it’s not always the number of dogs saved that is most important. Raising awareness is the real goal. “The 24 dogs that we’ve brought over is just a Band-Aid to them, it’s not really a solution,” Amanda Patenaude said. “It’s just helping free more space for them to bring new dogs in. Our biggest challenge now is to make more people aware of the situation, and the more people are aware of it, the more Spain is going to be criticized for it.” Each Galgo that arrives and is adopted in the U.S. is an opportunity to raise awareness of the breed’s predicament. Rescues in Spain that will never be able to care for the vast numbers of abandoned Galgos each year focus on highlighting galguero

September/October 2015 Dogs Unleashed 15

photo by jennifer waters

Travis Patenaude, right, and a porter at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport help move four dogs brought back from Spain by Jennifer Waters and her family. Volunteers were on hand to receive the dogs and take them to their foster homes.

activity, pushing for enforceable animal protection laws and setting up animal welfare education centers. Online petitions and virtual groups, such as Facebook’s The Million Paw March for Justice, are spreading the word and telling people how to get involved. The images can be graphic,

photo by jennifer waters

Uma, a Galgo transported from Spain and fostered by Grand Haven’s Tonya Christiansen, was adopted and has a permanent, loving home in the United States.

and the stories can haunt you for a lifetime, but as the protests get larger and louder, there already is a growing intolerance for the Galgo situation in Spain. “I have optimism for what the groups in Spain are doing,” Travis Patenaude said. “Hopefully they’ll be able to pass the laws that need to be passed to help protect the Galgo.” TEACH THE CHILDREN The next generation may hold the key to a better life for Galgos, Amanda Patenaude said. “We need to work with the children and start from there,” she said. “When kids ask their grandparents, ‘Why are you doing this? Why do you treat your animals this way?’ it shows they’re learning. We can’t always change the elderly if they were raised to believe something their whole lives, but if we can start with children and get them

16 Dogs Unleashed September/October 2015

to meet Galgos and understand their situation, we can make some changes there.” I hope that my own children, ages 12 and 15, will be part of that generational movement. I thought becoming a flight patron would be a good way to show my kids what I value, which is to not turn a blind eye to situations that make us sad or uncomfortable, and to promote animal welfare and responsible ownership. What I didn’t anticipate was the happy glow on their faces once we successfully delivered our dogs to their new fosters. It was not particularly easy getting four dogs on a plane in a foreign country, but knowing they would soon experience their first warm, loving homes made it all worth it. I know my kids felt the same, and this time they could say they had played their own part in making a difference. And what a difference. Paloma

and Don Johnson have gone from certain death at the perrera to loving, permanent homes in the U.S. Both were adopted within a month of arriving. Jordan and Kisko are being fostered by the Patenaudes. Jordan is learning to trust people again, and Kisko is simply soaking up all the affection he can find. Both dogs are available for adoption through Meanwhile, the Patenaudes prepare for the next transport, doing what they know best in the struggle to save this lovable and gentle breed from a life of abuse and hardship. “Like any rescue, we hope that we go out of business and never have to do it again,” Travis Patenaude said. “If we could just make the galgueros understand what they’re missing, and what these dogs are truly like, they may not treat them as harshly,” Amanda Patenaude added. “They’re suchTake great this time show your dogs, and they really deserve to topets be how much you love and treated a lot better than they are.” 14

GRAND HAVEN TRIBUNE Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How to Help Location: Interested in learning more about how you can help save a Galgo? Start with the following organizations, which are always looking for caring people to adopt or foster dogs, or donate skills, time or money. • Love, Hope, Believe Galgo Adoption: • BaasGalgo: • Benjamin Mehnert Foundation: (in Spanish) • Save a Galgo: • SOS Galgos: (Spanish version is • Galgos del Sol: Flight patronage: Are you planning an upcoming trip to Spain, or does your company regularly schedule business trips to Spain? Contact LHB Galgo for more information about becoming a flight patron. There is no cost to you and volunteers will meet at departure and arrival to assist with the dogs. Volunteer vacations: Prefer to be more hands on? Consider a volunteer

Did you knowvacation. May isAnimal Experience International offers a two- to eightweek package that lets you travel all over Spain while helping rescue National Petabandoned Month? Galgos and comfort those waiting for adoption. Visit to learn more.

Education: Last but not least, help spread the word about Galgos by sharing this article and others with friends and family.

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Fostering sighthounds

She just loves dogs Tonya Christiansen fosters hope for rare sighthound breeds



onya Christiansen knows dogs. As the owner of Must Love Dogs Boutique & Spa in Grand Haven, and as an animal foster and advocate, Christiansen is one of West Michigan’s most dog-savvy residents. So it definitely piqued her interest to learn that the dog rescue organization with which she had been working was actively rescuing two breeds she had never before seen — or even knew existed. As a foster for The Sighthound Underground, an international rescue dedicated to breeds such as

18 Dogs Unleashed September/October 2015

Tonya Christiansen adopted Talco, a Spanish Podenco, in April.

“Every life is special and kindness is never wrong. I tell people to look into those eyes and tell them that they don’t deserve a chance.” — Tonya Christiansen greyhounds, borzois, salukis and Afghan hounds, Christiansen had helped care for and adopt out several sighthounds, one of her favorite types of dog. Sighthounds are known for their speed and their hunting prowess, which relies on seeing and chasing prey instead of smelling or tracking it. Sighthounds face special challenges, partly because of their strong hunting instinct (extra care must be taken not to let them off leash) and partly because of the hunting and racing communities that see these dogs as a commodity rather than a sentient being. The plights of racing Greyhounds are perhaps the most well-known example: Once a Greyhound is no longer winning races, it often is discarded and replaced in an endless cycle of overbreeding and abandonment. But it was the predicament of the two breeds she had never heard of — Spanish Galgos and Podencos — that recently opened a new door for Christiansen. Galgos and Podencos are hunting dogs in Spain. They’re coveted

for their hare-hunting skills, then just as fervently discarded when the season is over. Unlike the U.S., which has animal welfare laws in place and a growing culture of animal rescue and adoption, Spain can seem almost primitive when it comes to its treatment of these hunting dogs. The more Christiansen learned about how Galgos and Podencos are treated and discarded, the more she knew she wanted to get involved. “It’s heartbreaking what they go through,” Christiansen said. “Their lives are hard from birth, and they’re hard until they’re dead,” which often comes as early as 2 or 3 years old. Christiansen said she knew she couldn’t save them all, but the ones she could help would at least have a chance at a better life — unlike the thousands of Galgos and Podencos that are killed each year in Spain by hunters who don’t want the expense or hassle of feeding dogs outside of the hunting season. Christiansen received some international fosters from The Sighthound Underground and also signed up to start working with Love, Hope, Believe Galgo Adoption. When a Galgo or Podenco is flown to the U.S. from Spain, Christiansen is available to foster until adoption, providing healing care, nutrition and training in the meantime. While fostering any animal can be difficult, an international foster animal brings additional challenges. Arranging travel is the most formidable challenge,

TONYA CHRISTENSEN Volunteer/Foster for Love, Hope, Believe Galgo Adoption Inc. and The Sighthound Underground Location: International, with fosters and adoptions taking place throughout the U.S. Websites:, About international adoption: International animal rescues focus on finding, rehabilitating, transporting and adopting animals from a certain area in the world, or a specific breed facing challenges in its home country. Volunteers are needed to foster animals when they arrive in the U.S., to work as volunteers in overseas shelters and to help transport animals into the U.S. In her words: “I’m not going to save hundreds of thousands of dogs. But every single dog that I save is probably pretty appreciative of the opportunity to have a couch and a family, something they wouldn’t get otherwise. I think every dog should be treasured.”

Talco, a Podenco, is a fixture at Tonya Christiansen’s dog boutique in Grand Haven.

requiring a volunteer who is willing to escort the dogs from Spain to the U.S. When they arrive, the dogs have a steep learning curve ahead of them. Most have never been treated as a pet — and sometimes their treatment in Spain has been abusive or neglectful. The dogs may arrive in the U.S. still wounded, and they may not even recognize their own names, much less know how to sit or stay. “It’s hard, just like any rescuer or foster situation is,” Christiansen said. “I compare it to flipping houses. You take something that’s broken, and you make it good again. And then you hand it off to someone else, and that’s the hard part. You put so much love and effort into helping them.” While some people question the expense of bringing animals to the U.S. for adoption, as well as the already overwhelming number of pets in our own shelters, Christiansen believes everyone should follow their own passion. For her, that means continuing her role as an international foster and helping raise awareness of the heartbreaking situation that Galgos and Podencos face in their home country. “Every life is special and kindness is never wrong,” Christiansen said. “I tell people to look into those eyes and tell them that they don’t deserve a chance.” Christiansen has increased her

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work with the Chicago-based Love, Hope, Believe Galgo. Earlier this summer they attended a West Michigan animal adoption event together, spreading the word about the needs of these lovable dogs from Spain. “The goal wasn’t to adopt out a lot of dogs, it was more to educate,” said Christiansen. “I would say that 97 percent of the people that walked by our booth had never heard of a Spanish Galgo before. You can’t fix something that nobody knows about, so I think that was really valuable because there was a lot of education.” That education continues at Christiansen’s store in Grand Haven. Visitors to Must Love Dogs now have a chance to meet a Podenco on a regular basis. In April, Christiansen adopted Talco, a Podenco from Spain, and he is becoming a regular fixture in her store. Talco was found as a stray when he was a year old, and Christiansen isn’t sure what his previous life was like. But she knows Talco, just like the small number of other dogs rescued through international adoption, is luckier than most.

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pilots n paws

Pilot Program Kurt Knoth takes to the friendly skies to help save pets BY DAVID LEMIEUX | PHOTOS BY JENNIFER WATERS

Pilot Kurt Knoth has not yet tangled with the Red Baron on any of his rescue missions, but there most have definitely been beagles up in the air with the Pilots N Paws Pet Rescue Service volunteer. Six beagles, to be exact, and puppies at that.

September/October 2015 Dogs Unleashed 21

Pilot Kurt Knoth, with his rescue dog Ike, uses his 1976 Piper Warrior to transport dogs.

The floppy-eared litter was facing a bleak future in Elizabethtown, Ky., when they were given a safe haven in Lansing, Mich., 360 miles away via flight. A Pilots N Paws volunteer saw the mission posted on the organization’s website and offered to fly the puppies from Elizabethtown (near Fort Knox) as far as Indianapolis. Knoth and his single-engine 1976 Piper Warrior were mission-ready and volunteered to meet them there and bring the puppies the rest of the way. A non-profit organization, Pilots N Paws has a website where people who rescue, shelter or foster animals can coordinate with pilots and plane owners willing to transport the animals quickly over long distances. “I read about Pilots and Paws in an aviation magazine about 6 or 7 years ago,” said Knoth, whose day job is Vice President, Performance Improvement and Patient Affairs at Spectrum Health.

“I’ll keep doing it as long as I can fly. It’s fun and very rewarding.” — Kurt Knoth “I’d just gotten my pilot’s license. I basically started doing it because I like dogs and was looking for an excuse to fly. It’s a mission doing good and doing something I like to do.” Each of the four missions Knoth has flown has been to rescue dogs from high-kill shelters and deliver them to forever homes or foster homes. “The puppies went to two different foster homes, although a couple of them had already been spoken for,” Knoth said. Knoth fell in love with the speed and freedom flying offers while attending Whitehall High School. “My uncle was a pilot and an instructor,” Knoth said. “He packed

22 Dogs Unleashed September/October 2015

up me, my dad and their brother when there was still snow on the ground here and took us to Florida, and we went golfing. I thought that was so cool.” Knoth started working toward his private pilot’s license shortly after graduating with an engineering degree from Ferris State in 1992. He’d landed a job with Boeing in Seattle and took full advantage of the big aircraft maker’s employee flying club and affordable flying lessons. He had not quite finished flight school when he decided to move his family, including a rescued racing greyhound, closer to his boyhood home. “I’ve always had dogs,” said Knoth, who now lives in Grand Haven. “Now we have a black Lab mutt we rescued from the pound named Ike. He’s been a great dog.” Once settled back in West Michigan, Knoth finished flight school and purchased his Piper. It wasn’t long before he was helping others like Ike.

According to Knoth, Pilots N Paws is no fly-by-night organization. “I can’t emphasize how organized they are,” Knoth said. “When you accept a mission they send you an itinerary complete with flight times and (aircraft identification) numbers. It’s all orchestrated by volunteers. They are almost like air traffic controllers. The volunteers connect all the pilots at all the airports and keep an eye on the weather. There’s even a way for you to track your dog’s progress online. It’s a highly coordinated process.” High praise indeed coming from a man whose job is helping a large Grand Rapids-based health care organization continually find new ways to better care for its patients. The cost of chartering a plane and pilot to make the kind of 200-mile rescue missions Knoth makes for free would be more than $1,000, he says. Total round-trip flight time for one of Knoth’s rescue missions is about five hours. After some initial skittishness

during takeoff, his passengers generally settle in for the ride, Knoth said. “I never hear a peep out of them. The droning of the engine is like a big fan that relaxes them and puts them to sleep. I always have someone with me to take care of the dogs.” Not that there haven’t been surprises. But none have ever occurred in the air. “I flew my second mission with my dad,” Knoth said. “We went to Fort Wayne (Indiana) to pick up a blind dog and brought it here to Grand Haven for a rescue shelter in Spring Lake. Three months later, I was in PetSmart looking for a kitten for my daughter when a woman from the shelter came up to me and pointed to some puppies and said, ‘Those are from the dog you flew up here. No one knew she was pregnant.’ ” Another surprise came when Knoth picked up the beagle puppies in Indianapolis. “When the other pilot let them out of his transporter in the pilot’s lounge, a couple of them had accidents on the carpet,” Knoth said.

KURT KNOTH Volunteer pilot, Pilots N Paws Animal Rescue Service Website: About: Pilots N Paws is a nonprofit organization for those who rescue, shelter or foster animals and for volunteer pilots and plane owners willing to assist with the transportation of animals. In his words: “I basically started doing it because I like dogs and was looking for an excuse to fly. It’s a mission doing good and doing something I like to do.”

The rewards of being a rescue pilot outweigh the dangers of a piddle puddle. “I’ll keep doing it as long as I can fly,” Knoth said. “It’s fun and very rewarding.”

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vicky’s pet connection

The Matchmaker

Shannon Reincke, with her three hounds, practices what she preaches by adopting older dogs.

Shannon Reincke and an army of volunteers find just the right homes for senior and special needs pets


story by SUSAN HARRISON-WOLFFIS photo by jennifer waters

or seven years, Shannon Reincke has done the impossible. She’s found homes for dogs no one else wants. Elderly dogs. Dogs with medical woes or special needs. Old dogs abandoned or surrendered by their owners, whatever the reason or circumstance. Time and time again, Reincke has looked into the faces — and some would say the hearts — of dogs deemed “unadoptable,” and she’s recognized what others have not. All the love those dogs still have to offer. “You can see it in their eyes,” Reincke insisted. “They have so much to give.” Reincke volunteers as the foster care and adoption program director for Vicky’s Pet Connection, based in Ada. The organization holds a unique place in the network of shelters and rescue groups in West Michigan. First,

24 Dogs Unleashed September/October 2015

everything is done on a volunteer basis. Second, Vicky’s Pet Connection does not have a physical shelter of its own. And third, individuals do not drop off animals to the organization. Instead, various shelters in Kent, Ionia and Barry counties “reach out” to Reincke when a senior dog arrives. As soon as Reincke gets her hands on that dog, it immediately goes into a foster home — cared for by families in their homes, again all on a volunteer basis. At present, Reincke has six foster homes upon which she relies. The number of homes may be small, but the results are huge. Between 40 and 50 dogs are adopted every year through the program, all given a second chance, a new home. It’s not an in-and-out quick process. “They spend as long as they need with us because they are older,” Reincke said. “We take however long it takes, rehabbing, loving, finding really, really wonderful homes.” Her job — some would say it’s a calling — is as a matchmaker between dogs and families.

“It never ceases to amaze me, the people who step forward to adopt these dogs,” Reincke said. “We take our time. They get to know the dog. We get to know them, and lo and behold, we make a match.” Reincke knows from experience. She was on a rescue transport some years back, one of Vicky’s many volunteers, and she spotted a beagle, aging and abandoned. The dog was 9 years old, and grabbed Reincke’s heart like nothing ever had. “I said, ‘Where’s that dog going?’ ” she recalled. No surprise, it went home with Reincke. And it lived out its final days — seven more years — a loved and cherished pet. “That (experience) got me hooked,” Reincke said. “I have a passion for senior dogs.” A graphic designer, Reincke owns her own Grand Rapids business named — what else? — Doubledog Design. She began volunteering for Vicky’s seven years ago. Vicky’s Pet Connection was started in 1998 by a woman “They spend as identified only as Vicky — ”She’s long as they need a really private person,” Reincke said — who saw a need to help with us because homeless animals. Vicky’s Pet Connection is they are older. funded completely by private We take however donations and grants — and long it takes, what they make at Critter rehabbing, loving, Cottage, the adoption/ facility for Vicky’s Pet finding really, really outreach Connection that also carries wonderful homes.” unique pet supplies and gifts. When Vicky retired from the — Shannon Reincke rescue group several years ago, Reincke and other volunteers continued her work. Vicky’s Pet Connection has “a thriving cat program,” Reincke said. She, however, specializes in finding homes for dogs. “I’m just the dog gal,” she said. She practices what she preaches when it comes to rescuing pooches. She has three at home: Nettie, a 9-year-old beagle whom she fostered through Vicky’s; Owen, 6, a Basset hound; and Louie, 6, a beagle-coonhound mix. But what keeps her going — what sustains her — are stories like the one she tells about Clare, an 8-year-old coonhound she found in a rural shelter in northern Michigan. Clare was obviously a hunting dog, emaciated, sick, used up and in desperate condition. Reincke took one look and decided she wasn’t going to leave her behind. She couldn’t. Clare needed several surgeries. She needed more tender loving care than most to bring her back to health both physically and emotionally. Once Clare was back on her feet, Reincke went to work, finding her a family. Miracle of miracles, a couple adopted her after just five months of matchmaking. They didn’t just adopt her, they adored her. Clare and her family traveled the country together for five years, sending postcards and pictures to a grateful Reincke. “When I think of where (Clare) came from and where she ended up, well, it epitomizes what we can do,” Reincke said. “It’s why we keep going.”

Shannon Reincke Foster care and adoption program director, Vicky’s Pet Connection Contact: P.O. Box 624, Ada, MI 49301 or (616) 897-9943 Website: About: Vicky’s Pet Connection’s focus is the rescue of animals from overcrowded shelters, with priority being given to cats, senior dogs and special needs animals. Since 1998, when the organization was started, nearly 13,600 animals have been saved through its volunteer-run rescue and adoption programs. The Critter Cottage, at 7205 Thornapple River Drive in Ada, is the adoption/outreach facility for Vicky’s Pet Connection. The Critter Cottage carries a unique selection of supplies and gifts for pets and pet lovers as well as providing a welcoming venue for pet adoptions and special events. Purchases made at the Critter Cottage help support the mission of Vicky’s Pet Connection. In her words: “We take the dogs that are labeled ‘less adoptable,’ and we turn that around.”

“They tell me ten is the new five!”


pet connection

Specializing in the rescue and forever-home placement of senior shelter dogs September/October 2015 Dogs Unleashed 25


humane society of west michigan

Attitude adjustment Through actions, Trudy Jeffers is helping shape cultural standards and change lives story by Tricia Woolfenden photo BY JENNIFER WATERS

26 Dogs Unleashed September/October 2015

Growing up in Kinde – a small, rural Michigan town near Lake Huron – Trudy Jeffers cultivated a strong work ethic and a passion for animals early on in life. From “bugs to bunnies, dragonflies to dogs, caterpillars to cats,” Jeffers said she’s “always appreciated living creatures.” These days, her brood includes Rosie (12-year-old Lab), Marley (7-year-old retriever), Squiggy (6-year-old cat), Diana (7-year-old cat) and four foster kittens with practical names like Standoffish Kitty and Orange Kitty.

“Many animals who have been so mistreated can still have the ability to trust human hands and hearts again.” — Trudy Jeffers Jeffers put herself through school at Central Michigan University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in English. After graduation, she headed to Marquette, Mich., to work for a non-profit law firm that advocated for individuals with disabilities. Over the years, she honed her skills in human resources, budget, finance, training and development, among other administrative and executive tasks. In 2011, she was “elated” to become director of operations at the Humane Society of West Michigan (HSWM). In the summer of 2012, she was offered and “happily accepted” the position of executive director. “My passion is fueled by the animals who deserve for us to care for them and it’s enhanced by the amazing people who I’m surrounded with on a daily basis,” Jeffers said. “They sacrifice and serve our animals and the people who care for them.” Jeffers — who is married to an animal lover and has two kids who “get it when it comes to animal welfare” — expressed admiration and appreciation for the support of the community, individuals, volunteers, staff, the HSWM board and “any folks who not only talk the talk, but walk the walk.” As anyone involved in the animal rescue or welfare world knows, walking the walk can at times be difficult, particularly when trying to balance a multitude of challenges from tight budgets and space constraints to differing ideologies and developing policies. Among today’s top issues and concerns in animal welfare advocacy, Jeffers cites spaying and neutering pets as a continual area for focus, particularly for communities with any number of feral cats. “Although we can see that in the north spay/neuter efforts have made a real impact on the population of companion animals, the work’s not done,” Jeffers said. “There are still more animals in need of

a home and we still have a lot of kittens from free-roaming moms.” Another topic on Ender’s radar is the need to clarify the sometimes murky meaning of the term “no-kill” — educating the public on what it really means to be a no-kill shelter or sanctuary and helping animal lovers understand how no-kill practices affect a community’s animal population. She’s also busy considering how HSWM and other organizations can offer support to families whose financial struggles affect their furry family members, whether it’s through Kibble Konnect (HSWM’s foodbank for pet owners) or low-cost vaccine clinics. And then there’s the big-picture ideas, like “What mission changes can we implement to improve animal welfare in our community?” And, “How do we define a humane community?” Or, “Are we reaching out to possible hoarding situations, or waiting until it’s too late?” Animal cruelty, abuse and neglect also, unfortunately, continue as a key source of critical concern. “It’s difficult to understand the kind of human darkness that would treat animals as though they’re not valuable, that their lives aren’t important,” Jeffers said. “Many of us support harsher laws and expedient resolution when cruelty, abuse and neglect are found.” State protections have strengthened in the past 10 years, Jeffers said, though she and other advocates are closely watching as lawmakers discuss bills like the SB 560 Large-Scale Breeder Bill and the SB 117/118 Puppy Protection Act. It’s not just politicians who can act as leaders in this effort. Jeffers said this is one area where everyday citizens and animal lovers can help to shape cultural standards and change lives. “People just like you and me can help make the difference,” said Jeffers, who encourages folks to confidentially report cases of suspected abuse or neglect. Other ways to help improve overall pet welfare include volunteering at local animal rescues, hosting or contributing to fundraisers and supply drives, advocating for spaying/neutering and simply being a passionate voice for animals. “People respond to passion combined with positivity,” Jeffers

TRUDY JEFFERS Executive director, Humane Society of West Michigan Location: 3077 Wilson NW, Grand Rapids 49534 Phone: (616) 453-8900 Website: About: The Humane Society of West Michigan is a donor-funded nonprofit that annually helps more than 8,000 animals. The organization places animals for permanent adoption and in foster situations, and provides specialized care to homeless, neglected and abused pets. In her words: “At HSWM, we live our mission and have it at the forefront of the question of ‘How can we improve animal welfare in our community and beyond?’ We have many answers to that question in the form of our programs and services. We’re always seeking to refine and do more.”

said. “Tell people how much you love animals. Show them how much you do in both little and big ways. Your passion can be contagious.” Meanwhile, fostering and/or adopting a rescue animal has become an increasingly popular way to have a direct and profound impact on an animal’s life. Jeffers has seen dozens upon dozens of amazing adoption stories in her time at HSWM. She’s particularly moved by stories of older pets or animals involved in hoarding or puppy mill situations. “Many animals who have been so mistreated can still have the ability to trust human hands and hearts again,” said Jeffers, citing the case of 3-year-old Mazie, a Staffordshire terrier mix who’d been the victim of extreme cruelty and neglect for many months. Though Mazie had suffered horrific injuries — including a carabiner embedded in a neck wound and numerous parasitic infections — she found her happy ending. “Mazie, amazingly, was able to trust and love again quickly and was adopted by a loving couple,” Ender said.

September/October 2015 Dogs Unleashed 27


allies for greyhounds

Racing to the Rescue Greyhounds find their forever homes with the help of Dave and Pat Conrad 28 Dogs Unleashed September/October 2015

Dave Conrad fell in love with greyhounds 18 years ago, and started an adoption organization with his wife Pat in 2006.

story BY PAUL R. KOPENKOSKEY photo by jennifer waters


ave Conrad went to a Petco store in Kentwood 18 years ago to buy dog food for his Great Dane, Sasiah. That’s where he met Frank, and his life took a 180-degree turn. Frank was among a handful of greyhounds at the pet retail store available for adoption. Frank turned out to be one of the more vigilant of the bunch, Conrad recalled. While he was at the checkout to purchase Sasiah’s dog food, Conrad sensed something next to him. It was Frank, who turned on the charm to win Conrad’s heart. Frank’s eyes stared adoringly at him. His ears perked up and his tail wagged in a friendly, lazy way. Conrad was immediately convinced Frank was the greyhound for his family. He started the adoption process that day. “They just want to please and be by you and show nothing but love and affection,” said Conrad, a resident of Wayland. “So I eventually adopted a second one, and it skyrocketed from there. At one time we had nine of our own. Currently, we have six.” But harboring their own brood of greyhounds wasn’t enough for Conrad and his wife of 47 years, Pat. They wanted others to enjoy the love and companionship greyhounds liberally exude. The couple volunteered with two greyhound adoption groups before founding their own nonprofit in 2006, which they initially named Allies for Greyhounds of West Michigan Inc. The Conrads dropped the “West Michigan” part of their nonprofit’s moniker when they discovered outof-state people assumed they were adopting out greyhounds only to Michigan residents. That’s far from the truth, Dave Conrad said. The Conrads find forever homes for greyhounds in Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida, Canada, Indiana and Pennsylvania — around 135 adoptions annually, according to Dave Conrad. The majority of greyhounds the Conrads seek to adopt out are former racers, but Conrad is quick to point out Allies for Greyhounds is not a rescue.

“They just want to please and be by you and show nothing but love and affection.” — Dave Conrad Greyhound owners and handlers want their dogs to go to good, loving homes whose owners will responsibly care for them, he said. “We don’t really call it a rescue,” he said. “We’re an adoption group, and we have a contact who gets a lot of dogs from race tracks. Ninety-eight percent of my dogs come from our relationship with Sunburst Kennel in Pensacola (Florida). This is a group of people who get the dogs from racetracks in Florida and then they find groups who adopt them, like ours. Our other contacts are in Iowa and a few out of Kansas. “They love their animals, the trainers and owners, everybody who handles these dogs loves them to death because that’s how they make their living,” Conrad added. “They’re well taken care of. When you have 300 dogs on your farm, racing is a business like gambling is a business. They love their dogs. They don’t force them to race. It comes natural.” Most greyhounds’ racing days end when they’re 5 years old. The greyhounds the Conrads adopt out — those not suited for racing — are most often between18 months and 5 years, and their lifespan is 12 to 15 years. Allies for Greyhounds has room for 20 dogs in its kennels and another 15 in its foster program. People find greyhounds to adopt through the organization’s website and the 150 or so meet-and-greets the Conrads and their volunteers hold at pet product retailers each year. If people wish to adopt a greyhound, the Conrads require them to complete an online application that includes two references. A house visit also is conducted before the adoption is complete. The Conrads enjoy the meetand-greets because it gives them an opportunity to correct misconceptions some people may have toward

greyhounds. “Everybody says they’re high strung and a lot of maintenance and they’re definitely not,” Dave Conrad said. “You can have 15 dogs together and there’s not a lot of barking. How many younger breeds can you have where there are 20 dogs and not have any one of them barking or biting? I’m not saying they don’t bark, but they’re very wellmannered.” With an annual operating budget of $80,000 (from private and corporate donations), Allies for Greyhounds relies on 30 volunteers to feed and transport the dogs and keep the Conrads’ kennel clean. The couple also works in conjunction with 35 foster homes. Adoption fees are $225 per dog or $325 if a greyhound was trained by inmates at the Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater. “They just get in your skin because they love you,” Pat Conrad said. “They don’t talk back.” Then she pauses and does a slight course correction, adding with a smile: “Well, some of them don’t talk back.” DAVE AND PAT CONRAD Co-founders, Allies for Greyhounds Contact: PO Box 63, Grandville, MI 49468 or (866) 929-3647 Website: About: The Conrads launched their nonprofit adoption initiative in October 2006. Allies for Greyhounds annually oversees the adoption of around 135 greyhounds to forever homes in west Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Canada. The couple works in conjunction with 35 foster homes. Adoption fees are $225 per dog or $325 if a greyhound is already trained by inmates at the Lakeland Correctional facilities in Coldwater. In Dave’s words: “(Greyhounds) just want to please and be by you and show nothing but love and affection.”

September/October 2015 Dogs Unleashed 29

the tail end


Older rescues require patience, but reward is immeasurable

Gary Moore always has had dogs. Sometimes he’s even had dogs, cats and a parrot at the same time. But a few years back, he found himself without a pet. And for him, that was no way to live. So Moore started the search for just the right dog, one he could call his own, preferably a rescue who needed a home as much as he needed a dog. Moore started on the internet, typing in these words: “rescue Vizsla West Michigan.” Amazingly enough, up popped a picture of a 10-year-old Vizsla-mix being fostered through Vicky’s Pet Connection, an organization in Ada that specializes in rescuing older dogs from overcrowded shelters. Moore looked past the graying muzzle and saw only potential, only companionship. “She was a doll,” he said. In the past, Moore had owned a couple of Vizslas — beautiful hunting dogs originally from Hungary. He loved the breed’s high energy and was drawn to their sweet temperaments. Sadie — the Vizsla-mix he eventually adopted from Vicky’s — was no exception. She loved people; she loved him. For the first few weeks she lived with him, she slept as close to Moore as she could in bed, never once letting him out of her sight. Her background was a mystery. The vet told Moore that she’d had a lot of puppies, and she needed several surgeries to get her healthy. And she came with a few behavioral problems. Moore wasn’t undone by Sadie’s nervous barking or her skill at finding holes in the fence to escape the yard. Because he’d had Vizslas before, he knew she needed to keep busy. He knew with just a little patience, just a little thought, everything would be fine.

For instance, Sadie loved curling up on the furniture. “So I got covers for everything,” Moore said. For two years, Moore and Sadie were inseparable. “She was great company,” he said. “She was a lovely dog, really lovely.” In January, Sadie suddenly went blind. Within two weeks, she died. Understandably, Moore was bereft. He told his friends and family that he needed to mourn; he needed time before he could even think about another pet. Sadie was so special, such a good companion ... “You know how that is,” Moore said. But in March, Moore saw a photograph of an affable-looking 10-yearold yellow Lab named Archie posted on the Vicky’s Pet Connection Facebook page. He couldn’t resist. Moore contacted the people at Vicky’s to see if he could meet Archie, who had been surrendered to a shelter by a family who could no longer care for him. Rescued and fostered by the volunteers at Vicky’s, Archie was ready for adoption. Archie came with arthritic hips and a drooling problem — he drools like crazy. And Moore said his energy level is nothing like Sadie’s. What should be a 45-minute walk takes Moore and Archie twice that long because Archie, who qualifies as a senior citizen, tends to sit and rest along the way. “He’s the first big, old, lazy dog I’ve ever had,” Moore said. Even so, Archie — and Sadie, of course — have reaffirmed Moore’s commitment to loving, caring and adopting older dogs who might otherwise be passed over. “Younger dogs are going to find someone,” Moore said. “These guys ... older dogs ... need some compassion. They need someone to love them.” There are challenges when adopting an older dog, and not just health issues

30 Dogs Unleashed September/October 2015

courtesy photo

Gary Moore and Archie, a senior yellow Lab he adopted through Vicky’s Pet Connection.

that come with the territory, especially if they’ve lived with another family for a long time. “It takes time for them to really become your dog,” he said. Still, Moore goes to amazing lengths to give his dogs a home. It turns out his wife, Lori Jacobs, is allergic to dogs. “But we have that figured out,” Moore said. They share a duplex, so Moore can spend time with Archie, and Jacobs doesn’t suffer from allergies. Moore, an assistant prosecuting attorney for Kent County, and Archie are still getting to know one another, step by step, day by day. “You slowly earn your stripes with older dogs,” Moore said. “Like I said, it takes time.” But it’s worth it. “You get so much from a dog,” Moore said. “They’re your babies.” Susan Harrison-Wolffis is an award-winning journalist, retired from newspaper work after more than 40 years. Contact her at

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Dogs Unleashed - September-October 2015  

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