Monthly Archives: December 2015

According to Grand Traverse County, Stray Dogs are Now the Public’s Responsibility


Although the Grand Traverse County’s animal control ordinance still says that the Health Department is responsible for capturing, accepting and confining unlicensed dogs, stray dogs, unwanted, abandoned and abused dogs, they have (without an ordinance change) stopped adhering to their own county ordinance. The Animal Control Officers are no longer working and the County Commissioners have voted to turn the Animal Control Department over to the Sheriff’s Office with no plan put in place for the immediate transition or for the long-term success of the department. Several sources have confirmed it’ll be at least the middle of January until there is even an initial planning meeting between the County Administrator, Health Department, the Sheriff’s Department and the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. As the County has stated in their press release, “Until the meeting takes place, services specific to animal control will not be enhanced under the Sheriff’s Department” – meaning that the Sheriff’s Department will only take care of the animal issues they have always taken care of – barking dogs in addition to abuse and neglect issues.

The Grand Traverse County website is instructing people to drop off stray dogs to Cherryland Humane Society (CHS) if they feel comfortable doing so. There is still a contract between Grand Traverse County and CHS to house the dogs there through February 18, 2016. The hours of CHS are Monday through Friday 11 am to 5 pm and Saturdays 11 am to 3 pm. Their phone number is 231-946-5116 and they are located at 1750 Ahlberg Road in Traverse City. Continue reading


Concerns About the Future of Animal Control in Grand Traverse County Bring Out People to Speak at the Board of Commissioners Meeting

2nd ac story pic

It was a full room at the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, December 22nd and many of the people were there because they had concerns about the recent elimination of the Health Department’s Animal Control Department and two Animal Control Officers.

Chairperson Christine Maxbauer started off the meeting with a few statements. She said there was misinformation about the situation in the public and also commented that the Commissioners intended to renew their contract with Cherryland Humane Society (CHS) to house their stray dogs. She said that CHS offers a valuable service to the community and that they are looking at how to strengthen their relationship including increased licensing fees. She continued to say that having an Animal Control Department in a Health Department is abnormal – that it’s usually ran through a Sheriff’s Department. She said that Sheriff Bensley is an animal lover and she was sure that he would be following “best practices” when he takes over the Animal Control Department.

Although Animal Control issues were not on the agenda, the next part of the meeting was opened up for public comment and many in the crowd spoke up and made their views and suggestions known to the Commissioners.

Several community members suggested that the Commissioners create an animal advisory committee of concerned citizens to help guide them through the transition and help offer solutions to the future needs of animal issues in the county. This has been done at many other animal shelters in Michigan and around the country – and  some of these committees actually “run” the shelter/animal control by making policy decisions, having fundraisers and doing many other things. The speakers expressed their understanding of the financial restraints that the county was facing but Linda Price commented that the decision was done in haste (to meet a year-end budget deadline) and said that the Commissioners had a lack of knowledge about what happens next. Continue reading

Grand Traverse County Eliminates Animal Control Department, Putting Many Pets and People in Danger

snow pic main photo

The recent unanimous approval of the 2016 budget for Grand Traverse County resulted in an across the board cut of approximately 4.25% to most departments, however the Health Department’s Animal Control Department was completely eliminated. The 2016 Grand Traverse Adopted Budget Expenditure sheet for the next three years shows no funding for an Animal Control Department. The 2015 Budget for Animal Control was $210,649.00.

Grand Traverse County Administrator Tom Menzel explained on WTCM’s radio show “The Afternoon Drive” that he was the one responsible for cutting the Animal Control Department and it was done because it was a “non-mandated” service, which means it’s not a service determined by state statute.

He went on to say that the Sheriff’s Department would take care of the “serious” animal issues, however, when Pet Friends Magazine contacted Sheriff Tom Bensley, he said that he was not consulted on the animal control department moving to his department – he knew nothing about it until it was discussed at the County Commissioner’s meeting by Menzel on December 16th. The Animal Control Department appears to have been eliminated with no input from the public, no questions from the County Commissioners at the meeting, and no meetings or discussions with the Sheriff’s Department. Currently, the Sheriff’s Department only responds to animal neglect, animal abuse and barking dog complaints. This was spelled out in a memo from Environmental Health/Animal Control Director Tom Buss to Sheriff Bensley in 2009 regarding the duties of Animal Control and the Sheriff’s Department pertaining to animal issues. Continue reading

Doggy Dangers At Christmas – Puppy-Proofing Your Festive Season

this is an article sent in by Sally Jenson

Christmas is an exciting and bewildering time for dogs. It’s also a time filled with temptations – some of which can lead to disaster. Dogs do not understand the dangers inherent in things like trailing Christmas light cables, brittle baubles, and lovely-smelling foods which are just fine for humans to eat, but poisonous for dogs. It’s sadly all too common for veterinary surgeries to be stuffed full with sick dogs and their panicked owners over the festive period. If you want to make sure that your Christmas is a time of fun rather than of canine tragedy, take note of these common doggy dangers and take steps to ensure that your dog does not fall foul of them!


One of the most common issues facing dog owners at Christmas is the abundance of food on offer. Many of our most treasured Christmas treats are actually very bad for dogs. Indeed, smuggling your dog a Christmas snack could prove fatal in some cases. While most good pet insurers should cover accidental poisoning, nobody wants to spend the Christmas period worried sick about their dog. With this in mind, try to make sure that your dog is kept away from human treats and foods this Christmas. Poison can lurk in even the most innocuous of foodstuffs – artificial sweetener Xylitol, for example, is powerfully toxic to dogs. Onions and garlic can cause dog diarrhea and vomiting, macadamia nuts will make your dog woozy and miserable, and your dog simply cannot process alcohol in the same way that we can. On a more serious note, chocolate (particularly dark chocolate) contains a substance named theobromine which dogs cannot digest very well. In mild cases, dogs who eat chocolate will have violent diarrhea and vomiting. In more severe cases, they could suffer from heart failure. Grapes, raisins, and sultanas are also serious trouble for dogs. They can cause kidney failure, which almost inevitably leads to death. Antifreeze – a substance deadly to anyone who drinks it, but particularly tempting to dogs – also tends to come into play during the colder months. Keep it away from your dog, and try to prevent your dog from licking up any splashes of it. Should your dog ingest any of these substances, take note of the amount that they’ve eaten and phone your vet immediately.

Christmas Trees And Decorations

Christmas trees are a source of powerful fascination for many dogs. Not only are they a new and intriguing presence within the house – they also appear to be covered in tempting toys and treats. It should be made very clear to your dog that Christmas tree decorations are not for playing with. It is not uncommon for vets to spend their Christmases pulling shards of glass decorations from the mouths of unfortunate dogs after they have tried to grab them from the tree. Trees present other dangers, too. If they are wrapped in electric lights, your dog could potentially drag the tree over by stumbling on the cable. Pine needles also imperil your pup’s paws – not a life-threatening problem, but a painful one. You may need to contact a vet to get the needles picked out. If your dog likes to chew things, try and ensure that they can’t get their jaws around the tree. While most Christmas tree varieties aren’t dangerously toxic, they can cause upset tummies, and in rare cases the intestines can get blocked with pine needles. Holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia are also liable to cause tummy troubles if your dog chews on them.

Busy Kitchens

This may not seem like an obvious issue, but it’s surprisingly common for dogs to get injured in the kitchen during Christmas. The busy, hectic nature of a Christmas kitchen means that people easily get distracted. While swerving to avoid other family members, cooks carrying things like boiling pans are liable to trip over dogs – which, as all dog-owners know, are past masters at getting underfoot in the kitchen. This is dangerous for everyone involved, not just the dog. It’s probably best to shut the dog out if the kitchen is getting busy – no matter how much they may want to be in the center of the action!


All presents pose a potential problem if your dog is the kind which likes tearing things up – but some presents are more problematic than others. Presents which contain toxic foodstuffs or things which could hurt the dog if they try to chew or play with them should be kept out of reach of a chew-happy dog. Batteries are a common cause of canine hospitalisation at this time of year. If your dog chews a battery, there’s a strong chance that they’ll pierce the shell and get burned by the corrosive substances within. If they swallow batteries whole, they could obstruct your dog’s bowels or give them heavy metal poisoning. Either way, it’s best to seek advice if your dog has been having fun with batteries!

Your Lost Cat Could Be Adopted or Killed Immediately if Michigan Lawmakers Have Their Way

Ella Bella at

Ella Bella at

About 76,000 stray cats ended up at Michigan Animal Shelters in 2014. If legislators have their way and Michigan House Bill No. 4915 is passed, when your healthy and friendly cat winds up in a Michigan animal shelter, that shelter will be able to adopt your cat out as soon as it enters their building. With an understaffed Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDARD) and animal shelters who don’t want to put in the time and money to save animals, it’s no surprise that they’ve gotten together to make life easier for them – but worse for pets and their owners.

After consulting with MDARD and the Michigan Humane Society (who already appears to violate current state law by adopting out healthy and adoptable cats immediately), Rep. Mike McCready introduced HB 4915 in September of 2015.

Pet owners are already at a disadvantage of not knowing animal shelter laws and how many days an animal shelter is required to hold onto their lost pet. Currently, animal shelters are required to hold onto cats and dogs for four days if they don’t have identification and seven days if they do. These hold times have been confirmed to me several times in emails and letters from MDARD as well as confirmed in a memo from Attorney General David Silver in 1987. Furthermore, in the past, before MDARD consulted with McCready, the current State Veterinarian, Dr. James Averill stated in an email to me that “MDARD has consistently enforced these holding times in order to give owners a chance to find their animals before they are sold for research, adopted to a new owner, euthanized or otherwise disposed of.” A letter from Dr. Averill dated December 22, 2014 states that they expect shelters to comply with these stay hold laws. Continue reading

Take 12 Kind Acts Challenge to Help the Pets and Staff at Your Local Animal Shelter


This holiday season, The HSUS is challenging you to do 12 Kind Acts for the animals and/or staff at animal shelters in your area of Michigan. If one act of kindness can be life-changing, think of what 12 can do! Here are a few ideas to get you started, but the sky is the limit!

1.       Volunteer during the holidays when staff is lean

2.       Send letters to editor about the good work the shelter is doing

3.       Collect towels and blankets from the community and deliver to the shelter

4.       Bring holiday goodies to staff to say thank you

5.       Purchase or make enrichment toys for dogs, cats, and other homeless pets at the shelter

6.       Create a wish list for the shelter and share in public places

7.       Create goodie bags for holiday adopters

8.       Help the staff market long-time shelter residents

You can post pictures of your kind acts on the HSUS Michigan Facebook page at and they will be shared to motivate others to do the same. And if you’re on Twitter, please use #12KINDACTS.

Military Dogs now Guaranteed Ride Back to America After Retirement

military dog

photo credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stacy L. Pearsall

When President Obama signed the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act on the day before Thanksgiving, after originally threatening to veto it, he approved $607 billion in military spending and small yet meaningful changes to how the military handles its retired working dogs, guaranteeing them a return ticket to the United States at the end of their service. Until now the military’s policies had resulted in dogs being retired in overseas kennels and sometimes being separated from their handlers in the adoption process. Under the language in the new law, introduced by Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R., N.J.) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.), all military working dogs will be guaranteed a ride home on military aircraft and their handlers will be allowed to adopt them before anyone else. Click here for the rest of the story.

photo credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stacy L. Pearsall

Tips on Holiday Safety for Pets

from Dr. Baxter, Chief Veterinary Officer of Vet On Demand

· Tinsel, ribbon, ornaments and plastic bags – Swallowing stuff that’s not meant to be eaten can cause very serious problems and be extremely hard to diagnose. Unless you see it being eaten it is a tough diagnosis. Monitor yours pets that have a tendency to chew.

· Plants – Holly, Mistletoe, Poinsettias, Tree needles – If your pet is a plant chewer / eater then position the plants out of reach of your pet. Remember to pick up fallen leaves/needles, limbs and berries.

· Lights – Electricity. Might I say the cat in “Christmas Vacation.” Electrocution and electrical burns do happen so if you have a chewer beware of any cords that might appear attractive to your pet.

· Candles – Pleasant and attractive flavors and odors. However, very few, if any, pets understand the dangers of fire and what it can do. This is probably a bigger problem with cats than dogs.

· Your pet is sick and your vet is closed. You do not know if it is really a problem, an emergency or not really anything. That is the time to call Vet On Demand and speak with one of our licensed veterinarians – face to face. Get help, advice and direction on what you need to do for your pet. Your pets care is in your hands. Don’t depend on Dr. Google who can just as easily give you bad advice as good advice. Let the Vet On Demand APP and Doctors help you care for your pet and have a Fun and Festive Holiday Season.

· Download the Vet On Demand APP today here.

· Post on your refrigerator ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center 888-426-4435

Michigan Pet Legislation Update

from the Humane Society of the United States – Michigan 

HB 4898

To Regulate the Operation of Large-Scale Dog Breeding Facilities

Status: Passed out of the House Appropriations Committee on October 21, 2015 and now awaits a favorable vote on the House floor before moving to the Senate.

SB 403

“Grant’s Bill” to End the Use of Carbon Monoxide Gas Chamber Euthanasia in Michigan Animal Shelters

Status: Awaiting its first hearing in the Senate Agriculture Committee.

HB 4478

To Include Companion Animals in Personal Protection Orders

Status: On October 15, 2015, the bill passed the House with 96 yes votes and 9 no votes, and was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 239

To Prohibit Bans on Specific Dog Breeds

Status: On October 8, 2015, the bill passed the Senate with 25 yes votes and 11 no votes, and was referred to the House Local Government Committee.