Grand Traverse Animal Control Millage Passes

Two years and eight months after the Grand Traverse County Animal Control Division was eliminated by past administrator Tom Menzel and county commissioners, the taxpayers of Grand Traverse spoke up tonight and voted yes for an animal control millage by an overwhelming majority of 69.58% of the vote with the unofficial results showing 18,146 people voting yes and 7,935 people voting no. Of the three millages voted on, this millage got the most votes and the highest percentage of votes in a millage – showing that the community definitely supports animal control which commissioners have questioned in the past.

The millage will provide funding for a three year period for animal control staff and services, protecting it from being eliminated at the whim of the the current Administrator or any of the county commissioners who will be voted into office in November of 2018.

The passage of the millage was up in the air after the county fired former Animal Control Officer Deb Zerafa, who has a large support base in the community. Many were upset about how the Health Department has handled her firing and the investigation into her actions while being an animal control officer.

The Animal Control Division currently has an Animal Control Supervisor, Jaime Croel, and an Animal Control Officer, Jon Brown. A third officer to replace Zerafa is being sought after the county posted the job opening recently.

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Couple Charged in Animal Abandonment Case in Kingsley

Two people who face charges in an animal abandonment case involving dozens of dogs and cats appeared in court for the first time Friday. Joseph Lewis Plowman, 39, and Lacie Lee Plowman, 37, appeared for a video arraignment in 86th District Court morning before Judge Michael Stepka. They each face one charge of animal abandoning or cruelty, a felony punishable by up to four years in prison, according to court documents. Both defendants await an attorney assignment, said Joseph Plowman. He declined further comment. Lacie Plowman did not immediately return calls requesting comment. Click here for the rest of the story.

Grand Traverse County Animal Control Firing Draws Challenge

Protesters wielding signs and animal photographs challenged an animal control officer’s firing over allegations she violated the constitution and falsified documents. Grand Traverse County officials fired animal control Officer Deb Zerafa in June after a local attorney determined she violated pet owner’s Fourth Amendment rights multiple times and lied about time worked. A 10-page report listed numerous accusations of misdeeds, all of which Zerafa denied and her group of supporters challenged during a protest and at a county board of commissioners meeting Wednesday. Click here for more on the story.

Unleashed Dogs a Problem in Traverse City

In March of 2018, the City of Traverse City repealed their dog ordinance to provide clarity in enforcing State laws. They repealed the city’s dog leash ordinance because it was duplicative of State law. Repealing the City’s ordinance didn’t eliminate leash regulations within the city. It was done so that Grand Traverse County Animal Control becomes the sole enforcer of the leash law.

However, also in March, an ordinance was passed in the city that regulates pets in parks within Traverse City limits. This ordinance means that city police can enforce unleashed dogs in the city parks as well as Grand Traverse County police.

This ordinance 1064.11 Pets in Parks. states that no person shall bring or allow any dog or other pet in any park unless the dog or pet is kept on a leash not over eight feet in length, and under the immediate control of a responsible person. Dogs are (only) permitted to be off-leash in city parkland which has been designated as an off-leash area by resolution of the City Commission subject to compliance with the rules and regulations adopted for the designated off-leash areas (dog parks). Continue reading

Pets Get More Options In And Around Traverse City

A growing number of local outdoor eateries, hotels and businesses are opening their doors to pets – and Norm Bowbeer is keeping track. As a bellman, concierge and shuttle driver at the pet-friendly West Bay Beach (a.k.a. Holiday Inn), he really thinks of his job title as Director of Fun. “I work at a pet-friendly hotel, and guests ask me ‘Where can we go?’” he says. So Bowbeer took it upon himself to compile such a listing. It includes some two-dozen outdoor restaurants and pubs in Traverse City, Old Mission, East Bay and Leelanau County. They include the Shed Beer Garden in Old Town, where dogs can eat from their own menu, including the Healthy Hound (crispy salmon treats with rice), the Puppy Patty (a beef burger with cheese), or a gluten-free D.O.G. biscuit. Click here for more on the story. Continue reading

Large Scale Kingsley Cat Rescue Continues to Grow

A kitten rescue from a home in Kingsley that began in May is continuing to grow. AC PAW and the Grand Traverse County Animal Control have been making several trips back to the property to rescue the feral cats and kittens. Click here for more on the story.

Dog Park, Gardens Planned For Traverse City Civic Center

On the heels of the renovation of Easling Pool, a new community playground, an expanded Norte cycling clubhouse, and a partnership with Parallel 45 to launch an outdoor summer play repertory, two more improvement projects are planned for the Grand Traverse County Civic Center – including the creation of Traverse City’s first east-side dog park. Click here for more on the story.

Man, Woman to Face Charges in Grand Traverse County Animal Hoarding Case

The two people accused of animal neglect in Grand Traverse County will soon be charged for the crimes, and possibly more. Northern Michigan’s News Leader got a copy of court documents that show Lacie and Joseph Plowman are the owners of the home where the animals were found. We have brought you live to the scene every day since Monday on Voice Road near Paradise Road in Paradise Township. Click here for more on the story.

Commissioner Cheryl Gore Follette, Gives Public Support for Career of Fired Animal Control Officer, Deb Zerafa

Grand Traverse County Commissioner Cheryl Gore Follette has been the county’s leading animal control advocate on the Board of Commissioners since she was elected to represent District 3. She is up for re-election this year and faces two Republican primary challengers in August, Brad Jewett and Suzanne Maxbauer (Christine Maxbauer’s sister).

Gore Follette been a leading voice to make sure that the animal control division is fully staffed and fully funded, always voting to support the animals, pet owners and taxpayers in our county. She formed an animal control ad-hoc committee to look into animal control issues and she also advocated to put an animal control millage on the ballot so that the animal control division is fully funded for three years. 

Regarding the recent firing of Animal Control Officer Deb Zerafa, Gore Follette has decided to speak out in support of Zerafa’s work for the county. Continue reading

Grand Traverse County Fires Animal Control Officer Deb Zerafa

Grand Traverse County fired Animal Control Officer, Deb Zerafa today. In a nine-page corrective action form, they accuse her of inaccuracies in her mileage logs, submitting inaccurate time records and engaging in conduct that didn’t meet 4th amendment requirements even though Zerafa is a certified legal assistant and has a major in Pre-Law.

The county accused her of being “dishonest and deceitful several times” during her employment, including falsifying time and milage records and using the county vehicle for personal use.

The firing comes on the heels of Deb Zerafa passionately advocating at county commissioners meetings to address issues that need to be fixed the Animal Control Division, filing an age discrimination grievance when she wasn’t hired as the Animal Control Supervisor, doing several FOIAs to get information from the county, and also informing HR of her hostile working environment. Four days after notifying the county of her hostile working environment, she was put on leave. The correction action form clearly shows substantial effort and time was involved in collecting information on Zerafa’s entire career with the county and that it was started approximately a month after Animal Control Supervisor Jaime Croel was hired. Continue reading

Grand Traverse County, Keep Your Pets Secure During Fireworks and Air Shows – Click Here for Schedule and Animal Control Info. for Lost Dogs

More pets go missing around the 4th of July than any other time all year. The scary sounds of fireworks, visitors coming in and out of the house the the Air Show with the Navy’s Blue Angels, can all be very scary things for our pets. Dogs will cower, hide and shake – and dart out of the door if not watched. Outside dogs can easily take off because of the noise and stress of the new events happening around them.

Animal advocate Suzanne Weiler came up with a schedule so that Grand Traverse County residents can be informed about which days the Traverse City events related to the Cherry Festival and the 4th of July will be happening: Continue reading

New Policies in Place for Grand Traverse County Pet Owners to Reclaim Their Lost Dogs

Grand Traverse County recently approved a memo of understanding regarding the contract between Cherryland Humane Society (CHS) and the county. The memo came about because CHS had concerns relating to individuals who surrendered dogs or claimed impounded dogs as part of animal control’s investigations into stray, neglected or abused dogs. Some of these interactions were creating an unpleasant and confrontational environment for the CHS staff. Both sides met to mitigate those negative encounters and drafted a memo. The changes make Grand Traverse County Animal Control the entity responsible for collecting fees and releasing animals at the shelter instead of CHS staff.

With the new policy, pet owners who have had their dogs impounded by animal control because they were at large will be contacted by Grand Traverse County Animal Control if the dog has ID. Pet owners are to call the office on Lafranier Road prior to reclaiming their dog from CHS. Continue reading

Cat Stuck in a Tree? Looking for a Local Lost & Found Facebook Page? Updated Resource List Spotlights Animal-Related Groups

Sometimes it’s hard to find what you need – even with Google. Pet Friends Magazine updated the Resource Link with a list of animal welfare groups, companies that can rescue cats stuck in trees, dog parks, K9 units, lost & found Facebook pages, animal sanctuaries and more. Check it out to see what’s around you and maybe you have missed out on knowing about! Click here to check it out.

PEACE Ranch Breaks Ground on Experiential Therapy Center

Nestled back on Hoosier Valley road in Traverse City is a tranquil farm appropriately named “PEACE Ranch.” At first glance, it resembles a regular farm; horses, outbuildings, and gardens.  However, it is so much more than that. I recently had the opportunity to meet with Jackie Kaschel, executive director, and learn about PEACE Ranch, one of Impact 100 TC’s 2017 grant recipients. Click here for the rest of the story.

10 Best Animal Adoption Shelters & Nonprofits in Northern Michigan

More than 10,000 voters from across the state weighed in on 101 things they love about Northern Michigan. Their votes determined 303 Red Hot Best winners and 700+ honorable mentions. Here you’ll find the best animal adoption shelters and nonprofits in Northern Michigan (and maybe your new furry friend)! Click here for the rest of the story.

GT County Animal Control Officer on Paid Administrative Leave Pending Investigation

photo credit: Deb Zerafa FB Page

From Up North Live: A northern Michigan animal control officer has been put on paid administrative leave. Deb Zerafa has worked as an animal control officer for Grand Traverse County for years. According to the interim county administrator, Zerafa is on paid administrative pending an investigation regarding her work. It is unknown at this time what sparked the investigation.

Man Seeks Help Searching for His Lost Emotional Support Dog in Benzie County Area

A Michigan man is asking for help in locating his missing emotional support dog. Brandon Shultz’s dog ‘Ash’, went missing three weeks ago and now he may be in survival mode. Ash is a 6-year-old, brown Boxer mix without a tail and has short fur. Ash is wearing a collar and is also microchipped.

Ash was last seen in the Benzonia area in Benzie County, someone reported to Brandon that they spotted Ash running near the Betsie River with possibly a black dog. Click here for the rest of the story.

Grand Traverse County Commissioners Unanimously Approve Moving Animal Control “Headquarters” Back to Keystone Road Location

The Grand Traverse county commissioners voted to move the Animal Control Division back to the Keystone Road location in Traverse City, home of the old animal control headquarters. There has been no decision on whether animal control will kennel the dogs in the future instead of Cherryland Humane Society (CHS), however the phones, computer, trucks, staff and other needed animal control items will be transferred to the Keystone location and upgrades will be made to the building.

This relocation will help facilitate the change in policy in a recent memo of understanding between the county and CHS regarding the surrendering and reclaiming of dogs at CHS. Pet Friends Magazine will post an article in the near future that outlines the agreement that makes Grand Traverse County responsible for collecting fees and releasing the animals instead of CHS staff. Dog owners will have to meet animal control officers at their current location on Lafranier Road before they are allowed to go to CHS to collect or surrender a dog.

No date was given on when the relocation of the animal control headquarters to Keystone Rd. will happen but the commissioners voted to move ahead with the plan. The building currently houses items for the Commission on Aging. The estimate for re-purposing the building was reported to be approximately $15,000 in structural needs (new kennel doors, new sink enclosure, painting, fixture upgrades, drywall repairs, bathroom upgrades, septic tank cleaning, etc.). Interim Co-Administrator and Undersheriff Nate Alger pointed out that savings could be found from the initial IT estimate for internet access by using an air card or hot spot.

Shelter and Rescue Link Updated on Pet Friends Magazine

It’s been a while since this link has been updated to reflect new organizations, new email addresses and updated website and Facebook links. Please take a look at it and see what’s listed for your county. Government run animal control links are also listed on this page so you can find out information about laws in your county and hours of service. And of course, there are plenty of resources for you to find adoptable animals. Click here to look at the list.

And coming soon is an update on the resource list with animal welfare organizations, sanctuaries, K9 officers, wildlife resources and other animal links – plus a link for low cost spay/neuter resources too. Stay tuned!

Divit Now Interviewing for Special Family to Adopt Him

photo credit: Jayne Richmond Photography 

Fish gotta swim… birds gotta fly… I gotta look cute and purr my sweet song until my forever family comes to take me home. The Osceola County Animal Shelter in Reed City has some really great people but I’m looking for some very important things – a couch, a bed or two, some nice blankets, a window next to a bird feeder, satellite TV, cat treats on request… you know – all the staples of being a pampered and loved indoor kitty.

I’ve been through a lot lately and want to tell you my story. I was attacked by a dog a few months ago and had to visit the veterinarian several times after that. The great people at the shelter paid all of my doctor bills so I don’t have any debts that you have to worry about.

I have made a full recovery but the doctor found out that I have FELV. That’s a kitty disease that other cats can get so I am looking for a forever home with no other kitties. I have been fixed (that was fun!) and received my vaccinations and have also been treated for fleas and parasites. Everyone at the shelter says I am a super sweet snuggly guy and a total STEAL for the special $5 adoption fee. I think I’m worth more like $5000 but I’ll let it slide because the shelter is doing their best to find me a perfect home.

Please call the shelter at 231-832-5790 if you want to adopt me – and you better do it fast because I’m gorgeous and sure to be a hit once people find out about me and come to visit.

Lawsuit Against Benzie County for Unlawful Seizure of Pets Moves Forward

Sheila Dinger’s lawsuit is moving forward against Benzie County, Benzie County Animal Control, Animal Control Officer Kyle Maurer and former Animal Control Officer Jaime Croel. The lawsuit was filed on May 16th and is the result of actions previously documented in an earlier article by Pet Friends Magazine here.

The lawsuit alleges violations of Dinger’s civil rights; fourth amendment violation for illegal search and seizure; and illegally seizing property against state law. The lawsuit is asking for compensatory damages (including mental anguish and suffering), punitive damages and attorney fees.

Click sheila lawsuit for copy of actual complaint.

Six 4-H Ducks Shot in Grand Traverse County, Deputies Searching for Suspect

Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Deputies are looking for the person who shot six ducks in Blair Township. According to Grand Traverse Sheriff’s Deputies, between 7:30 and 11:30 a.m. Monday someone shot six ducks that were part of a Grawn area youth 4-H project. Dan Davis says the ducks belong to his grandchildren, Maddeline, 6, and Adrian, 5. Click here for more on the story.