Monthly Archives: June 2016

Traverse City Film Festival Offers Up Some Dog Movies

The Traverse City Film Festival 2016 starts on Tuesday, July 26 and this year’s offerings have some movies that will interest pet lovers in our area!

photo credit:

photo credit:

The Champions
Saturday, July 30th at 3 pm
Sunday, July 31st at 9 am

In 2007, Atlanta Falcons star Michael Vick was convicted of running a vicious and illegal dogfighting ring. After serving jail time, Vick was able to return home to lucrative endorsements and a continued NFL career—but whatever happened to the 50+ deadly pit bulls he left behind? “The Champions” tells the amazing, little-known story of the people who stepped in to try and spare the abused canines from almost certain death. Determined to give the surviving dogs a chance at a happy life, this group of animal lovers risked everything to prove that even the most “dangerous” of dogs could live in harmony with humans, and surprised themselves by being transformed through the process. This heartfelt story about four-legged stars who were bred for violence, and then were offered a second chance through love, is glorious proof that you absolutely can teach an old dog new tricks. In Person: Director Darcy Dennett; Subjects Francis Battista, Paul and Melissa Fiaccone, and Rescue Dog Cherry! You can read more about the documentary here.

You can buy tickets to this film here. Continue reading


August 2nd Primary Elections Will Have Important Significance to Wexford County Pet Owners

Raine, is an adoptable cat at the Wexford County Animal Shelter

Raine, is an adoptable cat at the Wexford County Animal Shelter

Animal Control Departments and most Animal Shelters are government run by counties or cities. This means that the Commissioners and Sheriff have a big impact on the policies of the shelters and how many animals are saved or euthanized. The residents of Wexford County learned this in January of 2013 when allegations were raised about the misconduct of Animal Control Officers at the Animal Shelter and a subsequent Whistleblower lawsuit was file – and recently renewed in June.

In addition to voting for a new Sheriff and Commissioners, Wexford County will have an Animal Control Millage Renewal on the August 2nd ballot. In 2012, Wexford County voted for an Animal Control millage to fund their county Animal Shelter. It was a four-year millage request and asked for approximately $185,000 out of a $235,000 budget. In August, the voters will be asked to renew this millage for another four years. Continue reading

Previous K-9 Handler Challenges Appointed Kalkaska County Sheriff in Primary Election

The Kalkaska County Animal Shelter is run by the Sheriff’s Department which means they make the decisions how the department is staffed and operated.

Current Sheriff Patrick Whiteford was appointed to be Sheriff after Sheriff Abe DeVol passed away in November of 2015. He was born and raised in East Jordan and has been a member of the Kalkaska County Sheriff Department since 1999. He was the Undersheriff under DeVol. Whiteford did not respond to questions about the Animal Control Department and any future plans to make improvements.

Sheriff candidate John West

Sheriff candidate John West

Whiteford’s primary challenger on August 2nd is John West. West is a Clearwater Township resident. In addition to being in the Coast Guard and being a Police Officer for 13 years, West was a K-9 Handler, Trainer and Instructor. He was awarded K-9 Handler of the Year by Wisconsin K-9 Handler Association; won several Wisconsin K-9 Handler Association Awards; and he was a previous Board Member with Wisconsin Law Enforcement K-9 Handlers Association.

When West was asked about his thoughts on Kalkaska County’s Animal Control Department and any future improvement he might make, he responded, “First and foremost I am a animal lover, always have been always will be. I was a police dog handler for 9 years, my partner was just that a partner! I wouldve done whatever it would take to protect him as much as he would to protect me. To answer your first question

I have personally faced some issues with the Kalkaska Sheriffs Department regarding a dog that was being abused. It was literally skin and bone when I called the Sheriff Department. I was told they didn’t have a squad available to investigate! That is wrong I know sometimes the Department is busy but it is still an animal in need, and animal control was not available. So yes I absolutely will make changes that I have the authority to do if elected! No animal should suffer anymore if the Sheriffs Department is aware of the issue! Morally that is right thing to do!” Continue reading

Grand Traverse County Animal Control Division Returning to the Health Department with Limited Funding

photo credit:

photo credit:

Seven months after the Grand Traverse County Commissioners eliminated the funding for the Animal Control Division, taking the Division out of the Health Department and laying off the Animal Control Officers, the Animal Control Division is now being returned to the Health Department again.

In a meeting with Christine Maxbauer and Alisa Kroupa recently, Maxbauer had stated that they were still looking into forcing Sheriff Bensley to take over the Division but that putting the Division back in the Health Department was another option. The Sheriff has repeatedly refused to take on the additional services from the Animal Control Division citing that he doesn’t want to run a department that is underfunded and understaffed. When comparing Grand Traverse County area to other surrounding counties, he said that Grand Traverse County should probably have three to four Animal Control Officers to run it right.

In a memo from Deputy Administrator Jennifer DeHaan to Health Officer/Director, Wendy Trute, on June 10th, DeHaan writes, “Please work with Human Resources to facilitate staffing for animal control services. The funding available will be the revenues derived from the dog-license fees. Please determine the level/type of service that can be funded from the existing revenues. If additional revenues are necessary, please work with the Treasurer’s Office to provide a recommendation to the Board to increase the dog-license fees. In addition, please also conduct an analysis of the services that are delivered which would include the calls for services, incidents responded to, types of incidents, time of calls for service and additional details such that this service can continue to be tracked and evaluated.” The memo was also sent along to Administrator Tom Menzel, Prosecuting Attorney Chris Forsyth, Sheriff Tom Bensley, Undersheriff Nate Alger, Treasurer Heidi Scheppe, the Board of Commissioners and Human Resources. Continue reading

Judge Orders Dangerous Dog in Traverse City to be Put Down Pending 21 Day Stay

A judge decided the husky police say killed a small dog and several pet chickens and ducks will be put down. The owner of the dogs, Joseph Kinney, appeared in court Monday for a show cause hearing regarding the dangerous dogs. Judge Thomas Phillips decided the Husky would be put down due to the fact that it had killed another dog, police report. Click here for more on the story.

Cherryland Humane Society Marks One Year Anniversary of Heidi Yates as Executive Director

Joy, a dog adopted from CHS, hangs out on a couch at CHS.

Joy, a dog adopted from CHS, hangs out on a couch at CHS.

In June of 2015, many animal lovers in the community were excited to hear that Heidi Yates had been offered the job of Executive Director at the Cherryland Humane Society (CHS) in Traverse City. She moved to Traverse City from Spring Lake where she was the Executive Director for The Humane Society and Animal Rescue of Muskegon County (HSAR). As a result of the many improvements to the HSAR shelter, they were awarded the 2013 Outstanding Performance Award by Michigan Pet Fund Alliance. The award was given to HSAR while Heidi was the Director for the most improved limited admission shelter in Michigan. In addition to that, Yates has been involved in animal welfare for over 15 years.

Since Yates has been the Executive Director all CHS adoptable cats and dogs are now spayed or neutered before adoption and microchipped. Dogs are heartworm tested and cats are tested for FELV/FIV. Animals are given rabies vaccinations if they are old enough and vaccinations now include Bordatella and Lepto. There is also a new application process for adopters to help better match the needs of adopters and pets. Yates says, “This is in place to help reduce the number of returns that the shelter has experienced in the past.” Continue reading

Wexford County Animal Shelter Whistleblower Lawsuit Renewed by Michigan Court of Appeals

Rocko, is up for adoption at the Wexford County Animal Shelter

Rocko, is up for adoption at the Wexford County Animal Shelter

In 2013, Kathy Dennis alleged in a lawsuit that the Wexford County Animal Shelter was euthanizing animals without proper sedation and said there were also financial irregularities going on. She also alleged that the Sheriff’s Office violated provisions of the Whistleblower Protection Act after she reported these activities. She said that after reporting issues at the animal shelter, her hours were cut, her duties were reduced and her access to the shelter was limited.

Dennis was hired to be a Shelter Attendant but expressed an interest in becoming an Animal Control Officer. Because of this, Animal Control Officers Michelle Smith and Jessica Williams allowed Dennis to participate in additional duties beyond those stated in her job description, including supervising jail trustees and other volunteers, assisting with animal euthanasia, answering phones, inputting information into the computer system, collecting adoption fees and managing the Petfinder adoption website.

After Dennis accompanied other animal control professionals as part of her effort to become an Animal Control Officer, she began to suspect that the shelter’s staff was improperly euthanizing animals. She spoke to Smith & Williams about her concern that the animals were not being euthanized properly and they told her they would euthanize animals on their own from there on out. On December 6, 2012, Dennis reported her suspicions along with her belief that the shelter might be mishandling the shelter’s funds to Undersheriff Trent Taylor.

According to the State of Michigan Court of Appeals decision, Dennis testified that on December 19th, 2012, she met with Lieutenant Richard Denison, who served as the day-to-day Administrative Supervisor for the shelter. She said that Denison restricted her duties at the shelter and specifically told her that she was only to be in the back dealing with pets and trustees. As a result of that and other changes, she said she ended up working fewer hours. Denison had sent Williams to get Dennis’ keys back to the building. Because of that, Dennis met with Denison again on December 31st, 2012 and recorded the meeting. They discussed what Dennis believed to be retaliatory conduct directed at her. Because she was angry about the treatment she was receiving, Dennis turned in her keys and quit. Continue reading

Sitting Pretty: Rare Breeds to Strut their Stuff at Annual Dog Show

Bill Thomas is used to the attention his dogs attract whenever they’re out with them. The large, rugged-looking animals with long heads and wiry coats trace their roots to ancient Italy, where they’re still used as all-purpose hunting dogs. But they’re not often seen in the U.S. and weren’t recognized by the American Kennel Club purebred registry until 2000. Thomas fell in love with the sporting breed about 15 years ago, after a reunion with the best man from his wedding, who brought along his dog.

“In walked this goofy looking, ragtag dog and I said ‘What on earth is that dog?’ It turned out to be a spinone Italiano,” said Thomas.

He and his wife, Bev, began researching the breed named after its coat — spinone means “very wiry” in Italian — and decided it was a perfect fit. Now they breed the dogs at their Grand Bay Kennels in Traverse City and show them at dog shows around the country, where they’re always noticed. Click here for the rest of the story.

The Animal Welfare League of Benzie County – 40 Years of Caring

From the AWL News – Spring 2016 newsletter

Rosie – a lucky dog recently adopted from the Benzie Animal Shelter

Rosie – a lucky dog recently adopted from the Benzie Animal Shelter

In the Spring of 1976, a small group of people got together with a big idea and decided to assist the animals of Benzie County and the Animal Welfare League of Benzie County (AWL) was formed. The AWL became a non-profit organization in 1977 and created the “Pet Hotline” about that time also. Here’s a look back of what they have accomplished over the past 40 years.

Some records were lost over time but as far as they can figure, the AWL has assisted with more than 8400 spays and neuters since the program started in 1980. However, in 1999, the spay/neuter program stopped due to lack of funding but was able to start up again a few years later. Now, Benzie County residents can still apply for assistance through their Prevent a Litter Program. The AWL is financed completely by memberships and donations alone. Thanks to generous donations, the AWL has received and spent over $600,000 with the majority funding the spay/neuter program and medical care for the animals of Benzie County.

In 1993, the AWL raised and donated $90,000 toward building a new shelter to move it from the old location at the County Dump to its present location near the Government Center and Sheriff’s Department. Since the official opening of the new shelter on October 3, 1993, the AWL has continued to make improvements to the current shelter and in recent years, installed air conditioning, a building generator, new roof and numerous other improvements. Continue reading

Woofers Adventure Club Kicks Into Gear for the Summer

photo credit: Woofers FB page

photo credit: Woofers FB page

Sunday, June 5th was the kick off event for the Woofers Adventure Club (WAC). This is a new, unique opportunity for dogs and their people to get outside, get active and get connected. Group trail hikes, fitness fun classes and dog-friendly social hours are on their summer agenda. The WAC is especially great for those with newly rescued dogs, puppies or really any friendly, healthy, active dog. Hosted by local dog walking/running and pet sitting service Woofers On The Run. Events take place at various locations around Traverse City and require advance registration. Details on the Woofers On The Run Facebook page, event page and website.

All ages, breeds and fitness levels are invited. There are 11 more meetings scheduled between now and the end of August.

Dex Joins Grand Traverse County as the Newest K-9 Member of the Sheriff’s Office

dex k9

Dex, a male German Shepherd, is the newest member of the Grand Traverse Sheriff’s Office. Born on January 2, 2015, Dex was put into service in April of this year. He weighs 80 lbs. and his handler is Deputy Mike Gray. Dex does narcotics detection, tracks missing people, criminal apprehension, recovery of evidence and handler protection. His purchase was made possible with a donation from the Les and Anne Biederman Foundation.

The Lives of Cats and Dogs Hang in the Balance with Genesee County August Elections

from GRACE: Genesee Residents for Animal Control Evolution

A TICKING TIME BOMB GCAC: Animal Lives on the Line

Do you remember? Dogs hidden away in Locked wards, dozens of adoptable animals killed every week, volunteers banned, no cell phones or pictures allowed in the building, painful slow death by heartsticking, no animals spayed or neutered before adoption: These are all horrors from the past at GCAC.

Since January 2015, these nightmare scenarios have been replaced by humane practices, but just TWO SHORT MONTHS FROM NOW. ALL OF OUR PROGRESS COULD BE ERASED when primary voting for County Commissioners takes place on Aug 2. Because without the right Commissioners at the helm, all the good that has been put in place could be quickly and totally undone.

Click here for the rest of the story.

Man on Probation for Animal Cruelty, Charged with Leaving Puppy in Hot Car in Traverse City

A 25-year-old man, who is already on probation for an animal cruelty case in Manistee County, is now being accused of leaving his puppy in a hot car for hours in Traverse City. Darrin Pickard Jr. was charged with one count of animal cruelty on Friday. The Traverse City Police Department tells us they received a call around 3:24 p.m. on May 11 for a dog in distress in a vehicle. The dog was in the parking lot at Munson Medical Center. Click here for the rest of the story.

Donations Needed by Early August for Military Working Dogs & Their Handlers Overseas


Care packages will be packed in August for military working dogs and their handlers who are overseas. Sun Dog Kennels has also hosted two previous Military Working Dog Team Support Association (MWDTSA) carepacks with a wonderful group of volunteers who come to help and show their support. The end result this Fall will be 200 boxes packed after months of planning the themed carepacks. This third group of carepacks will be themed “Talk Like a Pirate” and the carepacks will be in hand overseas by September 19th, which is Talk Like a Pirate Day.

image1 Continue reading

Dangerous Dog Enforcement Issues Prove Problematic in Grand Traverse County

Previous Deal Regarding Habitual Loose Dogs Leads to More Animal Deaths and Possible Euthanization Order by Grand Traverse County Court

Hachi on Mackinac Bridge. Photo Credit: Joe Kinney's Facebook Page.

Hachi on Mackinac Bridge. Photo Credit: Joe Kinney’s Facebook Page.

Sometimes when something bad happens, it is an unforeseen event that couldn’t have been predicted. However, in the case of a Husky named Hachi and a Golden Chow Mix named Koda, numerous complaints about dead animals and aggressive actions towards neighbors pets were clearly a red flag that if action wasn’t taken, more bad events were sure to happen in the future.

Starting in September of 2015, complaints started piling up from neighbors of Joseph Kinney, the owner of Hachi and Koda. Some were investigated by the Traverse City Police and some involved Grand Traverse County Animal Control. The timeline below is from information from police reports and Animal Control complaints. Continue reading