Petfinder Foundation News

Agility Course Is Just what an Energetic Shelter Dog Needed

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Adoptable pooch Weston tries out a tire perch at the new agility course.
(Source: Humane Society of West Michigan’s Facebook page)

Weston tries out the tire tunnel.

Our friends at the Humane Society of West Michigan have been doing a great job of documenting the Rescue U improvements to the shelter on their Facebook page. They recently posted some great photos of adoptable dog Weston trying out the new agility course.

The shelter’s marketing and events coordinator, Nicole Cook, gives us this update: “Weston has been at our organization for about two months. He is a high-energy dog who needs lots of exercise. He gets stressed in our kennels and really thrives when we take him outside. Having the new agility course in our dog park is exactly what Weston needed! We take him out several times a day — sometimes we just play fetch with him but the majority of the time we focus his energy by teaching him the agility course and introducing him to the obstacles! We have noticed that he has picked up quickly on learning the course and we are excited to share his skills with potential adopters!

“Another dog who has really excelled in the new agility course is Jauxer. Jauxer is a long-term resident who has been at our organization since February 2011. Jauxer is a fearful dog and having our agility course allows us to introduce him to new things and help take fear out of simple things — stairs, unfamiliar surfaces, etc. — while helping enrich his stay at Humane Society of West Michigan. We are able to use the agility course to build his confidence and teach him new skills that his adopter can continue to work on with him once he is in a home environment.” Check out this video of Jauxer and pal¬†Kelsey enjoying the agility course.

Adoptable cat Serena tries out the new perches in the cat colony.


Nicole adds: “We have also had several cats get adopted out of our cat colonies after Rescue U installed the cat perches. The cats catch the attention of adopters by climbing up and playing on the perches. Several adopters have commented that they couldn’t pass up those cats after they saw them playing or climbing on the perches!”

Thanks so much to Nicole and Humane Society of West Michigan for the update, and to the Animal Rescue Site and Groupon Grassroots donors for funding the project. We can’t wait to hear more about how the renovation is improving life — and helping find forever homes — for pets at the shelter.

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Michigan Shelter Pups Get a Burn-Free Dog Run

Shelter dogs test out their newly-AstroTurfed dog run.

The Humane Society of West Michigan has wonderful, long, spacious dog runs. However, the runs were filled with pea gravel that was burning the dogs’ paw pads when it got hot outside. Our Rescue U volunteers fixed that.

We took out five tons of gravel and leveled out the runs to get them ready to lay down AstroTurf.¬†Thanks to the generous support of the Animal Rescue Site, we were able to purchase recycled turf from Duke University to install in these runs (it had been used in Duke’s football stadium!).

HSWM Executive Director Trudy Ender (front) helps install AstroTurf. (Source: HSWM’s Facebook page)

Installing it was no easy task. The turf was rolled into 75-90 ft. rolls that weighed approximately 600 lbs. each, meaning we rolled out about 3,000 lbs. of turf in one afternoon. Once it was rolled out we had to fold it and drag it into the pens. It took six of us just to move it and place it. The edges all had to be pounded into the gravel and the seams epoxied with a nasty, sticky green goop.

All in all, redoing the dog runs was three days of hard work, but the mission was accomplished! We also put thresholds in the doorways and re-installed the fence surrounding the runs.

We completed many other projects at the Humane Society of West Michigan. Now our student volunteers, who came from Grand Valley State University, Central Michigan University, Michigan State University, Grand Rapids Community College and Kettering University in Flint, are getting ready to go back to school, and we’re grateful to them for giving up a week of their summer vacations to work morning to night to make the shelter a better place for all the wonderful pets there.

BONUS VIDEO: Rescue U founder Bryna Donnelly explains how the new agility course will help shelter dogs adjust to life in their adoptive homes:

Press coverage of the Rescue U build at HSWM:

August 24: Thanks to Rescue U, humane society animals get new digs (Press Unleashed)

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VIDEOS: Michigan Shelter Dogs Get a New Agility Course!

Thanks to the generous donors who supported our Groupon Grassroots campaign, our Rescue U volunteers are not only renovating the Humane Society of West Michigan in Grand Rapids, they’re treating the dogs there to a brand new agility course! Check out some footage of adoptable dogs Elliott and Credence (top) and Jauxer and Kelsey (middle) trying out the course, and learn more about it (bottom), in the videos above.

Here are some recent photos of Rescue U’s progress at the shelter:

dog agility courseRight: An adoptable dog takes the new tire tunnel for a test run. The recycled tires were donated and painted with non-slip paint to give the dogs a place to run through and jump on.

dog agility course Rescue U program manager Douglas Woolsey posted this photo to the Rescue U Facebook page on Sunday, with the comment: “Making some great progress! Painting our tires now for the agility area.”

shelter renovationThe Humane Society of West Michigan posted this photo to its Facebook page on Tuesday, with the comment: “The Petfinder Foundation’s Rescue U is busy doing great things around HSWM! Here is a photo of our Cat Holding Area being painted! In addition to that room, they have also painted our entire Admitting Area! They also created an agility course in our dog park, have put sound panels in our dog kennels (to help reduce the noise), and put turf in our outdoor dog runs! The changes are amazing and we are so grateful for all that they are doing to improve our facility!”

Local news coverage of the Rescue U build at HSWM:

August 19: VIDEO: Humane Society of West Michigan gets a facelift (WZZM-13)

August 19: BLOOPER VIDEO: During our interview about renovations to the animal shelter, one cat tried to steal the show! (WZZM-13)

August 21: New agility course and upgrades at Humane Society (WZZM-13)

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A Little Training Gets a Boisterous Shelter Dog a Loving Home

Munch, now named Hunter, with his adoptive mom, Allison

When you donate to a charity, you don’t always know how your money benefits pets. Here’s an example of how a Petfinder Foundation grant — made possible by your donations — saved the life of one shelter dog. Want to help more dogs like Munch find forever homes? Give just $5 today!

Munch came in to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control in Charlotte, NC, in November 2010. A 2-month-old stray, his outlook was grim. He was boisterous and hyper, and a big black dog (labeled a Chow Chow mix) to boot. To make matters worse, he had serious health problems: He had severe injuries after being attacked by another dog; he also had mange, and soon developed kennel cough.

But because Charlotte-Mecklenburg is one of four pilot shelters of the Petfinder Foundation’s Train to Adopt program, trainer Karen Owens was able to work with Munch after he’d recovered from his injuries and illness. She chose him because she knew that, as an energetic black dog, “he would need all the help he could get.”

As it turned out, Munch was a perfect pupil. “He had lots of energy but really thrived when his energy was channeled into training,” Owens remembers. “He was also one of the first dogs that learned the ‘are you sleepy?’ trick, in which the dog puts his head down between his paws on command. He learned it within two or three short sessions.”

Munch showed off his new trick, as well as “sit” and “down,” at an adoption event at a local mall. He was adopted on the spot, one month to the day after his first Train to Adopt session.

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Hunter and Allison

Munch has since been renamed Hunter and is now almost 2 years old. His adoptive mom, Allison Brown, tells us, “He is absolutely the best dog! I am so grateful to Animal Control for nursing him back to health and training him. When I adopted Hunter, he was house trained as well as crate trained, and he knew how to sit, to wait for his food to be placed on the floor before he went for it, and to do ‘are you sleepy?’ — so cute!”

The fact that Hunter was a Train to Adopt graduate really made the difference in his finding — and staying in — a forever home. In fact, TTA dogs are significantly less likely to be returned to a shelter after they’re adopted. Allison tells us, “Having never had a dog before at all, the training done by Karen at Animal Control made adopting Hunter so much easier for me.”

These days, Hunter is living the good life, going on walks and runs with Allison, enjoying “run-arounds” with his best friend, Rascal, a black Lab mix who lives a few houses away, and playing tug of war with his girlfriend, Emma the pug. “He is a happy, healthy boy,” Allison says, “and I am so thankful that he is a part of my life.”

Whom can Hunter thank for his happiness? Allison, of course, for adopting him, and Karen for training him, and everyone at Charlotte-Mecklenburg for nursing him back to health — but also donors like you, who made his training possible. So give just $5 today. It may not seem like much, but it will make a world of difference to pets like Hunter.

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No More Burned Paws! Rescue U Renovates a Michigan Shelter

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Dogs like Emmet will benefit from Rescue U’s shelter renovation.

Rescue U volunteers have arrived at the Humane Society of West Michigan in Grand Rapids and begun a massive renovation project! We have a lot of work to do, and only a week to do it (the build is from Aug. 18-24). Among our projects:

  • Thanks to all the generous people who donated via our Groupon Grassroots campaign, we raised enough money to put in a dog agility course and play area in a space that’s currently just a big, fenced-in area. Once the course is installed, the dogs will have plenty of activities to occupy them when they go out to the yard to play.
  • There are some long dog runs in the back of the shelter that have a pea-gravel base that gets really hot in the summer and burns the paws of the dogs, so we are going to put AstroTurf in the dog runs, which will save paws and be much easier for the staff to clean.
  • Inside the shelter, the area where the dogs are housed is extremely noisy, which stresses the dogs, so we are going to install sound baffling in the kennels to stop the echo and quiet the kennel down.
  • We are going to add shelving to organize the shelter’s pet-food bank program, the Kibble Konnection, which helps low-income pet parents provide food for their pets.
  • To help prevent the spread of disease among cats, we’re installing a sanitation barrier in the cat-intake area — a sheet of plastic resembling a shower curtain that will hang between the stacks of cages so that, when cats sneeze and cough, they don’t transmit upper-respiratory infections to the cats in the cages across from them.
  • We’ll also be painting and organizing the reception/admitting area and the vet clinic.

This build is particularly exciting because most of the students — who come from Rescue U chapters at Central Michigan University, Grand Valley State University and Michigan State University — have never been on a Rescue U outreach trip before. Everyone is excited to take the skills they learn here back to the shelters where they volunteer regularly to improve the lives of even more pets.

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The Best Wedding Gift? One that Helps Homeless Pets

Brent and Lindsay at their wedding

Here at Petfinder, we’ve brought lots of love into people’s lives. So we’re always delighted to hear that a couple is celebrating their wedding by asking guests to give back to the place that helped make their family complete by donating to the Petfinder Foundation.

Brent and Lindsay Wagner of Cincinnati did just that. The couple, who wed on June 23, found their two dogs on Petfinder. Pierre was adopted from Happy Tales Pet Rescue in Fort Wayne, IN, and C.B. from Clinton County Humane Society in Frankfort, IN.

“Both of our dogs have brought so much joy into our lives,” says Lindsay, 28, an ingredients safety specialist. “It would be wonderful to give every pet their forever home but, of course, this is not possible for the average person. Donating to Petfinder is one small way that people can help!”

Lindsay adds that she and Brent, 27, a medical student, have been living together for two years and didn’t need many household items: “Instead of multiple registries at department stores, we had one store registry for guests who prefer [to give] traditional gifts, and [also] the Petfinder donation option.”

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C.B. (left) and Pierre

The Petfinder Foundation set up a special donation page for the pair and the gifts came flooding in. “An aspect that seemed very helpful was that Brent and I could see who had donated, which allowed us to treat the donation just like any other wedding present,” Lindsay says. “We sent thank-you notes for every donation and mentioned how we couldn’t imagine a better wedding present!”

Another couple who asked guests to donate to the Petfinder Foundation in lieu of gifts: Andrew and Stanton of Westchester County, NY. The pair, who wed in July, have been together for 18 years and, like Brent and Lindsay, didn’t need household items. “We thought it better for people to donate to worthy causes,” says Andrew, an attorney, “pet rescue being such a cause.”

In fact, the couple met while walking their respective dogs, and are now proud dads to 11-year-old Elmer, whom they adopted from a German Shepherd rescue in Dutchess County, NY. The pooch even had a starring role in their wedding: “Elmer was the ring bearer,” Andrew says. “He got a pair of wings to be Mercury, the messenger of the gods, for the wedding.”

Andrew says the request to donate has gotten a positive response from guests: “People have been happy to donate in lieu of the standard gifts. They understand the thought — and appreciate it.”

Many thanks to Lindsay, Brent, Andrew, Stanton and their friends and families for sharing the joy of their special days by helping pets in need. We wish both couples (and their pets!) a lifetime of happiness. If you’d like to request that guests donate to the Petfinder Foundation in celebration of your wedding or other event, email me at Emily (at) petfinderfoundation.com!

 

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Max’s Happy Ending: Neutered, then Adopted!

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Max with parents Laurie and Rob

Max the dog can look forward to a lifetime of love from his adoptive family — and he won’t be fathering any unwanted litters. Thanks to a spay/neuter grant from our partners at the Ryan Newman Foundation, Max and 63 other dogs and cats have been spayed or neutered, preventing potentially millions of unwanted puppies and kittens over the years.

Three shelters — Pulaski County Animal Shelter in Somerset, KY, Clearfield County SPCA in Philipsburg, PA, and Paws & Claws Feline Rescue in Statesville, NC — received $1,000 each from the Ryan Newman Foundation via the Petfinder Foundation.

The Clearfield County SPCA used the funds to neuter 13 male dogs and spay three females. One of the neutered pups was Max, who went on to be adopted by Laurie and Rob Porter, pictured with him at right.

Max, a 2-year-old Boxer mix, had been dropped off at the shelter by an owner who didn’t have time for him. Boy, has his life changed for the better!

Laurie recently wrote to the shelter with an update: “Max is up to 63 pounds now (no more ribs) and all smiles. Everyone he meets comments about how handsome and friendly he is. Max is great with people and other dogs, and we visit the dog park several times a week. Our friend has a tiny Yorkie and they love to play together too. The size difference is rather amusing, but he’s very gentle with her. …

“He loves water and really enjoys visiting lakes and parks as well. Max is walking much better on the leash, and he is very intelligent and willing to learn new things. He is very snuggly and lovey as well. He is an absolute sweetheart and we love him very much.”

Many thanks to the Porters for adopting Max, the Clearfield County SPCA for caring for him while he awaited his forever home, and the Ryan Newman Foundation for funding Max’s (and so many other pets’) spay/neuter to keep more pets like Max from ending up in shelters.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman and his wife, Krissie, established the Ryan Newman Foundation in January 2005 to educate and encourage people to spay/neuter their pets and to adopt dogs and cats from animal shelters, among other goals. Learn more about the Ryan Newman Foundation here.

You can help support the spaying and neutering of pets in shelters and rescue groups by donating to the Petfinder Foundation.

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