Seized Dog Still in Possession of the Roscommon County Animal Shelter – Could it Happen to You?

sadie main pic

On June 24th, Cindy Hodges’ dog, Sadie, was seized by Roscommon County Animal Control because Hodges didn’t get surgery done on Sadie’s paw and they considered that to be abuse under Michigan animal law for failure to provide an animal with adequate care.

It brings up questions about the limitations of governmental interference regarding the care we choose for our pets. Plenty of pet owners who read this article have, I’m sure, been in a similar situation where their pet is injured or sick and they can’t afford a treatment – or might not even agree with a Veterinarian’s recommendation. My own cat, Ali, had cancer and it got worse at the beginning of this year. There was no way I could afford thousands of dollars for radiation. Because the cancer had spread to more than one area, the radiation was likely to be unsuccessful anyway. The Veterinarian agreed that the radiation most likely would not improve Ali’s quality of life – or extend it substantially. But what if the Vet said it might give her another year of life? And what if my County found out about the Vet’s recommendation and deemed my decision to be abuse or neglect? What criteria is the government using to decide what constitutes neglect and abuse?

And even more importantly, can our County government disregard the opinion of a pet owner’s Veterinarian and the pet’s treatment plan and move ahead with an abuse charge?

Our local governments shouldn’t be able to interfere in our pet’s treatment even when our Veterinarian might not agree with us. However, in Sadie’s case, Surry Veterinary Clinic and Hodges were working together in agreement with the treatment being done.

There are plenty of pet owners who do their best for their pets but might have limited funds due to being disabled or because of other circumstances. Are their pets going to be taken from them because they can’t afford an ACL surgery or ear drops? As a pet owner, we know our pets better than anyone. We know their behavioral and medical history, what kind of pain they are able to put up with, what kind of food they eat, their stress levels, their sedation history and more. They are a part of our family and WE own them and we make the decisions for their care. Sometimes it’s a medical decision. Sometimes it’s a financial decision. Sometimes it’s both. But it’s OUR decision. Continue reading

PEACE Ranch Raising Money to Continue Horse Therapy

Healing with horses – that’s how one Northern Michigan group is helping victims of trauma, abuse and neglect. PEACE Ranch stands for Professional Equine Assisted Counseling and Education. The Grand Traverse County nonprofit group provides experiential learning and counseling for the community using 18 rescued horses. 9&10’s Caroline Powers and photojournalist Jeremy Erickson explain how they help people heal, and how they’re raising money to keep doing it.

“It’s one of those services that’s not traditional and not everybody knows about it, but it’s so beneficial for the population that we serve.”

Many think of therapy as a conversation in an office, but Jackie Kaschel and her 18 rescue horses here at PEACE Ranch offer counseling and education in a different way.

“Experiential therapy is for people who have issues to deal with that there aren’t really words to describe how it’s impacted them,” says Jackie Kaschel, executive director of PEACE Ranch. “This helps them to work through that trauma and get to that place where they have more hope and have more healing.” Click here for more on the story.

Waterford Board Votes 6-1 to Amend Pit Bull Ordinance. Don’t Be Fooled – Pit Bulls are Still Banned

The Waterford Township Board of Trustees voted 6-1 Monday, Aug. 22, to approve changes to its ordinance banning pit bulls that board members say will end confusion over how a dog’s breed is determined. Trustee Julie Brown cast the dissenting vote. Dozens of township residents and animal activists who packed the auditorium at Township Hall insist the changes do nothing to end the ambiguity over who has the authority to declare a dog a Pit Bull.

The township is embroiled in a controversy over Waterford resident Dan Tillery, who adopted a dog he named Diggy from an animal rescue and posted photos on social media that went viral, as the canine appeared to be “smiling.” Acting on complaints, township police officers, who double as animal control officers, investigated and determined the dog was a pit bull and not allowed in Waterford. Two veterinarians said the dog was not a pit bull. Click here for more on the story.

Homeowners Association Threatens to Take Dog from Woman’s Home In Mt. Pleasant

A Mt. Pleasant woman says her Homeowners Association (HOA) is forcing her to get rid of her dog, even though it’s done nothing wrong. Nancy Butler says, “Nobody has the right to come and take any one’s dog away from them.”

Butler got a letter from the HOA at Seaside Farms. It says she has a “pit bull dog” at her house and pit bulls are not permitted on Seaside Farms property. The letter says if she doesn’t remove the dog, there will be fines and possible legal action to take the dog away. Butler says, “I will do anything to keep that dog. I don’t care. It’s my dog, I love that dog.”

The dog in question is “Bee”, who was rescued from the Charleston Animal Society. Nancy says Bee has never caused any problems. Click here for more on the story.

Much Needed Logan’s Law Bills Still Not Passed by Michigan Legislature

photo credit: Logan's Law Facebook page

photo credit: Logan’s Law Facebook page

The Michigan bills referred to as “Logan’s Law” were originally introduced in March of 2012 after an incident where Matt Falk’s Siberian Husky, Logan, was blinded by an acid burn after being attacked in his own back yard. Logan died a few months later. The legislation would make a registry of those convicted of animal abuse, and require any animal shelter to refuse sale/adoption of an animal to anyone on list.

Update on LOGANS LAW from Klint Kesto, State Representative:
517.373.1799 or email klintkesto@house.mi.gov

Senate Bills 219 and 220 would require a court to order that a person, as a condition of probation, not possess or own an animal for five years if they have been convicted of animal abuse. These bills passed the Senate on January 28, 2016 and have been referred to Committee on Judiciary in the House of Representatives. We are continuing to review the merits of these two bills. You can track their progress at legislature.mi.gov. There have also been a series of bills introduced in the House as well. I have supported HB 4353 and HB 4355 coming out of the Judiciary Committee and furthered my support of it through its passage of the House of Representatives. Currently awaiting consideration before the Michigan Senate, HB 4353 and HB 4355 deal with the issues of SB 219 in a more successful way. These bills understand that abusers shouldn’t be tolerated and the proper, humane treatment of domesticated animals is good for society, and utilizes ICHAT searches to prevent animal abuse.

To keep up on Logan’s Law, please like the Facebook page here.

Hachi’s New Home: Couple Saves Traverse City Dog from Death Row

Hachi darted to each side of a gravel road, his red collar attached to a long leash as he sniffed his new, bucolic surroundings. Nathan and Breona Moore adopted Hachi, a Siberian husky, Thursday afternoon. The couple intervened when they learned the dog was deemed a dangerous animal and slated for destruction. Hachi wasn’t meant to be a city dog, Moore said. He needs a place to roam.

“It just wasn’t fair,” Nathan Moore said as Hachi planted a lick on his cheek. “They need acres and time and exercise.”

Hachi’s former owner, Joseph Jeremy Kinney, 34 of Traverse City, pleaded guilty to having a stray dog on June 15 in 86th District Court. A charge of allowing a dangerous animal to run at large was dismissed. Click here for more on the story.

Dog Rescued from Hoarding Situation Hit by Car and Killed as Grand Traverse County Continues without Animal Control Services

fiona-main

Fiona was a real beauty and captured the hearts of many after reading her bio on the Cherryland Humane Society (CHS) website. This beautiful three-year-old Lab mix came to CHS in the middle of July after she was rescued from living in a house with over 100 other dogs. She was so scared at the shelter that she crawled on her tummy. With the help of staff and volunteers, she learned how to walk and greet people in her kennel and gave licks and kisses to those who would sit on the floor with her. Because she was so scared at the kennel with the other dogs, she was went to a foster home. On August 3d, Fiona escaped from her foster home near Lake George Trail and Spider Trail in Traverse City when the door was opened at the exact moment there was a loud crack of thunder. Fiona bolted. Her foster mom was not able to catch her.

Being such a scared dog due to her previous living conditions, it made Fiona difficult to catch because she wasn’t the type of dog who would go up to strangers. She kept running. Because Grand Traverse County is still without Animal Control services due to the elimination of the Division and the Animal Control Officers by the County Commissioners at the end of 2015, stray dogs are not searched for and picked up by the County. Finding a stray dog in Grand Traverse County is left to the public. Fiona’s post about being missing appeared on the CHS Facebook page and the Grand Traverse Area Lost and Found Pets page. The community kept an eye out for her, posted sightings and some went out to look for her themselves, including a dog tracker. A live trap was also set up in an area where Fiona had been seen.

Unfortunately, 13 days after Fiona went missing, CHS made a post to their Facebook page that said, “We are very sad to report that the search for CHS resident, Fiona, has ended. She was hit be a car last night sometime, and her body was found this morning. We had so hoped for a different ending so she could have the new life she deserved, but we take some comfort in knowing she is no longer running scared. She has been picked up and is being returned to the shelter. Thank you to everyone who helped search and who let us know of sightings. RIP, Fiona.”

This is not the first time a dog has been hit by a car since the Grand Traverse County Commissioners decided to eliminate Animal Control services from the Health Department. There have been others, including a Beagle getting hit in the past week near Chums Corners. Thankfully, the last report on him was that he was stable and the owner was found.

Obviously, dogs were still hit by cars when the County HAD Animal Control Officers, but the dogs certainly had a much better chance of being found and reunited with their owners before the loss of our Animal Control Officers – especially when sightings are reported and Animal Control Officers had an area to search.

Pet Friends Magazine has received many reports from people in the community about things falling through the cracks due to the loss of the Animal Control Division, including hoarders and out of control breeders who have animals living in horrible conditions. Recently, the City of Traverse City got involved in a case and arrested a woman for animal cruelty.

In addition to the animal needs not being served by the County, Townships don’t seem to be enforcing their own animal ordinances and following up on negligent and abusive owners who have more pets than their townships allow and not checking into the licensing of these pets. Our own County has an animal control ordinance that is not being enforced because there are no Animal Control Officers to visit pet owners, write reports and issue citations. Additionally, many pet owners are complaining about Traverse City not following their animal ordinance as there are constant sightings of off-leash dogs in the City – on the Tart Trail and on the beaches.

Currently, the County has two jobs posted for Animal Control staff, for an Animal Control Division which has been turned back over to the Health Department. Both positions are part-time and funded only by dog licensing. The hours are yet to be determined. One of the positions, the Animal Control Specialist, is an on-call position and requires no animal control training at all and the other position of Animal Control Officer is only 25 hours and doesn’t require any State certification until they have been on the job 90 days. That means that we could have a potential Animal Control Officer who doesn’t have any knowledge of experience in animal law or any of the other training that the State outlines for the first 90 days of their employment. Continue reading

Documentary About Michael Vick Dogs an Inspirational Story of Recovery

Cherry outside the Film Festival, meeting fans.

Cherry outside the Film Festival, meeting fans.

This year’s Traverse City Film Festival brought many animal-related films to the screen. The documentary The Champions was a highlight of the festival for local many animal lovers, showcasing the journey of the Pit Bulls who were seized from NFL quarterback Michael Vick’s dog fighting operation. The film follows several dogs through their recovery from their start with animal rescuers to being placed in loving homes. It’s an inspirational story that focuses on the dogs instead of the brutal dog fighting operation. It’s a story of second chances, redemption and hope. Many of these dogs, even after being forced into horrible situations, were not aggressive towards humans.  The process of these dogs getting their lives back is more accurately described as “recovery” as was said in the documentary by Susan, Little Red’s owner. The rescuers did everything they could to make each dog comfortable and help them figure out how to be successful, how to survive. Each dog was individual and treated as such, which is apparent in the film.

In April of 2007, more than 50 dogs were seized from Bad Newz Kennels on Michael Vick’s property. Vick and the men involved in the dog fighting ring fought the dogs and also shot, electrocuted and hung dogs who didn’t perform well. Even though PETA and the Humane Society of the United States recommended euthanizing the dogs, most of the Pit Bulls were able to be saved and taken by eight different rescue groups, including Best Friends Animal Society who got 22 of the more traumatized dogs. The documentary, directed and produced by Darcy Dennett, follows the journey of five dogs and their caretakers during their recovery and shows their lives now with their owners. The film also spotlight dogs still at the sanctuary. Founded in 1984, Best Friends is the only national animal welfare organization dedicated exclusively to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelter and a leader in the no-kill movement. They run the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals, as well as lifesaving programs in partnerships with rescue groups and animal shelters all over the country.

Continue reading

HAZMAT Crews Rescue Five Cats, Find Five Dead in Traverse City Home

A 51-year-old woman was arrested after an ongoing animal cruelty investigation in Traverse City. The incident started Wednesday morning around 8 a.m. at a home on the 400 block of W. 13th Street. Traverse City Police along with Traverse City Fire Department, Traverse City Code Enforcement, HAZMAT, as well as Adult Protective Services severed a search warrant in reference to an ongoing animal neglect/ cruelty investigation that began back in June. Click here for more info.

Another update here.

Community Cats of Benzie County Cares for Feral Cat Population

Feral cats are a growing problem in Benzie County — and now, a new non-profit is working to manage the population. Community Cats of Benzie County doesn’t know the exact number, but estimates there are a few hundred in the area. Feral cats can be a big nuisance. They spread disease and get underneath homes. But they’re also a help to the environment, providing non-toxic rodent control. A vet who vacations in Benzie County decided to start Community Cats to help get the population under control. Click here for more info.

Man Accused Of Throwing Kittens Into Fire, Owner Speaks Out

“[Lucky] loved everybody. He didn’t care who you were, he loved on you. He was all an around good pet.” A man accused of throwing several kittens into a fire. Their owner says he also killed the kittens’ father. The owner says it might stem from an argument over repairs to the suspect’s car. Click here for more info.

Cats are Disappearing at a Trailer Park in Mesick

Kratoes, one of the missing cats, wore a red collar with tags. He had never left home before and always stayed close to home.

Kratoes, one of the missing cats, wore a red collar with tags. He had never left home before and always stayed close to home.

It’s been a difficult summer for cat owners at the White Pines Mobile Home Park in Mesick. To date, nine cats have gone missing since June. With so many cats missing, people are starting to wonder if they are being removed from the park intentionally. Resident Sharon Witt alleges that someone might be purposely getting rid of them, possibly trapping them and either killing them or taking them away from the park because they consider them to be a nuisance.

Witt, a pet owner and cat rescuer, often takes in stray cats from the neighborhood of about 20 trailers. She puts up found cat flyers and holds onto the cats for at least a week so that the owners can find them. If the owner doesn’t come forward, Witt tries to get them spayed or neutered – and identifies them with a collar and a tag. She then tries to find homes for them. Sometimes these cats, in addition to some others in the neighborhood, prefer to go outside for a little while to hunt mice or go to the bathroom, but most are indoor cats. Many of the cats who have come up missing were wearing collars and name tags. Continue reading

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