Category Archives: News

With Grand Traverse County Not Funding Animal Control for 2018, Dog Licensing Campaign Becomes Major Focus for Funding

photo credit: Rich Bauer Productions

Unlike just about every other Animal Control Department in Michigan who funds their staff and services from a millage or general fund, Grand Traverse County gets their funding strictly from dog license fees. Their refusal to fund the Division because it’s not a state “mandated service” means the county’s Animal Control Division is short-staffed and will go back to one part-time Animal Control Officer this month.

With the 2018 budget approved by the County Commissioners last night and no money allocated for the Animal Control Division, they are hoping that the just-released dog licensing campaign yields enough new income to increase staff hours and services back to where they should be. Continue reading


AC PAW 2018 Dog and Cat Calendars Now on Sale

Every year, AC PAW prints dog and cat calendars as a fundraiser and also to keep their supporters updated on the furry lives that they’ve been saving during the year. The advertisers in the calendar help pay for the printing of the calendars so as much of the proceeds can be used as possible for the rescue organization. Continue reading

New Livingston Animal Control Director Focuses on Keeping People, Pets Together

Educating people on how to care for and keep their pets is a primary goal of Aimee Orn, the new Livingston County Animal Control director.

“Some cases are out-and-out cruelty, but a lot come from ignorance and not understanding that there is more to owning an animal than giving it food and water,” said Orn, noting that some people are simply unaware of the importance of veterinary care, licensing, proper shelter and other issues. “Putting a leash on a dog and walking him or her when you get home doesn’t cost money, but it makes a world of difference to your dog.”

Click here for the rest of the story.

GT County Animal Control’s Uncertain Future

Deb Zerafa is the person who checks on someone suspected of hoarding cats. She’s whom the police call if they find sickly dogs locked up in cages in a house. If you’re walking down a trail and get bitten by a dog, it’s Zerafa who comes to investigate.

“A lot of [my job] is just trying to diffuse a situation that could become volatile between neighbors,” Zerafa said. “There’s a lot of neighbor-to-neighbor issues.”

On Oct. 17, Zerafa was working on one of those neighbor disputes in East Bay Township. Several weeks earlier, a woman had been bitten by a neighbor’s dog and required a rabies quarantine. Zerafa needed to follow up because the at-fault dog owner continued to let her dogs run loose. Zerafa knocked on the woman’s door, and while the cars outside and lights on inside suggested otherwise, no one was home — at least no one who would come to the door.

“I’ve got to talk to the owner,” Zerafa said. “I’ve gotten four calls since last week. This has got to stop.”

Click here for the rest of the story.

Four Fighting Dogs from Lansing to be Transferred for Rehab and Adoption

The Ingham County Animal Control office announced today that four of the dogs from the mid-Michigan dog fighting have been transferred to a rescue. They were sent to Bark Nation, a non-profit organization in Detroit that specializes in fighting dogs. The group evaluated the dogs and deemed all four to be good candidates for rehabilitation. Ingham County Animal Control stated that Bark Nation has a behavior team that are experts at evaluating fighting dogs and area able to better determine if those animals are good for rehab. After rehabilitation, the dogs will be found forever homes. Click here for the rest of the story.

Area Veterinarians Keep Animal Rescuers Rolling Along

Behind every successful animal rescue organization and animal shelter are passionate and committed veterinarians who helps them treat and save pets in their community. For a lot of animal rescuers, their veterinarian bill is one of their biggest expenses and their veterinarians are one of the most important reasons for their success.

Often, stray pets – and even previously owned pets – don’t get the veterinary care that they need. It’s a rare moment when a rescue group or animal shelter gets a healthy pet that is also spayed and neutered. Before these animals get adopted out, they go to a veterinarian for an exam and are often also treated for things such as fleas, rabies shots, ear infections, malnourishment, skin issues, heartworm disease and some receive expensive treatment like surgery after getting hit by a car or parvo treatment. Although an adoption fee from an animal shelter or rescue group can seem like a lot of money, it is often quite a “deal” as these animal rescuers have already had the pets get the veterinary care described above and they have otten these pets updated with their shots, spayed and neutered and some are also microchipped.

In the Grand Traverse area, Veterinarians Dr. Sara Lint and Dr. Leslie Littlefield of The Clark-Everett Dog and Cat Hospital in Traverse City help many groups including AC PAW, Cherryland Humane Society and The Munchkins’ Mission.

This little bottle baby who was fostered with AC PAW is just one of many pets who the organization is able to save thanks to help of local veterinarians.

In addition to Clark-Everett Dog and Cat Hospital, Cherryland Humane Society also relies on veterinarians at Grand Traverse Veterinary Hospital, Northwood Animal Hospital and Suttons Bay Animal Hospital. Dr. Albert Lynch of Companion Animal Hospital also comes into the shelter every other Wednesday, donating his time. Since the shelter opened, CHS has relied on the services of many area veterinarians along the way. Continue reading

Sheriff Looking for Leads After Dog Shot with Arrow in Oceana County

The Oceana County Sheriff’s Office is trying to find the person responsible for shooting a dog with an arrow, leaving the pit bull/lab mix with serious injuries. The animal cruelty case was reported at 3:45 p.m. Tuesday after the dog was found with the arrow on East Madison Road in Colfax Township. Click here for the rest of the story.

Wexford County Settles Animal Control Whistleblower Lawsuit

Kathy Dennis at home with some of her furry family members.

Four-and-a-half years after Wexford County Animal Shelter Attendant Kathy Dennis made allegations concerning the Wexford County Animal Shelter and had to leave her job after reporting her concerns to the Michigan Department of Agriculture, the county has finally settled her whistleblower lawsuit for the sum of $175,000.

After being required to pay 76¢ for the costs of copies and a stamp before the information was released, Pet Friends has finally received the Settlement Agreement from the county. The Settlement Agreement states that both parties agreed to settle the lawsuit amicably and the agreement does not constitute an admission or liability of wrongdoing by either party. The case has been voluntarily dismissed.

Dennis’ original complaints against the county included the allegations that the county was euthanizing animals without proper sedation and that there were financial irregularities going on. Then, in February of 2013, she sued the Sheriff’s Department, the county and Sheriff, Gary Finstrom for retaliating against her by reducing her job responsibilities, restricting access to the shelter and cutting her hours. She alleged that the changes to her condition of employment were made in violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act. Wexford County had won in the lower court but Dennis filed an appeal and the case moved forward until this settlement was made.

Dennis is now employed as an Animal Control Officer at Osceola County Animal Control Dennis says, “I love working at Osceola County Animal Control with others who share the same passion for animals.”

Traverse Bay Humane Society Builds Their Own Vet Clinic

Little Traverse Bay Humane Society (LTBHS) has run up against the same problems as many other animal rescue groups and animal shelters in the country – a lack of resources to offer low cost spay/neuter services and other veterinarian services to pet owners and also for their own animals. LTBHS decided to take matters in their own hands and built their own facility on the grounds of their animal shelter in Harbor Springs. Executive Director, Deter Racine explained, “Our needs outstripped the ability of our local veterinarians to handle the increased number of animals coming through our doors each year.”

The Little Traverse Bay Veterinary Clinic opened to the public in April of this year after earmarking donation money for the project in addition to launching a capital campaign to raise the rest of the money. Continue reading

Cadillac Area Dog Park Advisory Committee Disbanding

The Cadillac Area’s Dog Park Advisory Committee has decided to stop meeting citing a successful completion of the goals of the group. Bill Allen, Chairman of the DPAC, said that they were dedicated to help the city design, finance and construct the park and those goals have been accomplished. The project cost about $18,000, all of which came from local groups and individuals in the City providing support. Allen wishes to thank Lori Wetherell and Mike Coy for coming to his house about three years ago when the idea was proposed. Margo Copley helped with writing grants and keeping meeting minutes as well as keeping Allen inspired to continue with the project. Allen also sends out a special thank you to Mike Hamberg of Hamberg Fence Inc. for his willingness to work with the Committee.

The park will continue to be maintained and operated by the City and future needs would have to be coordinated with them.

Animal Welfare Groups Unite to Form Coalition in Northern Michigan

Multiple nonprofits and animal welfare advocates across the Northern Michigan area have united to form a new organization called “ARC – Animal Rescue Coalition” whose mission is to advocate for the well being of animals in Northern Michigan. Participants in this organization include Cherryland Humane Society, AC PAW, H.A.N.D.D.S. to the Rescue, Silver Muzzle Cottage, Pet Friends Magazine, Community Cats of Benzie County, Animal Control Officer Deb Zerafa, The Munchkins Mission, the Midwest Regional Director of Best Friends Animal Society and others.

ARC will be focusing on responsible pet ownership, the importance of spay & neuter, public awareness of laws & licensing, and improve government and community cooperation. To help facilitate these goals, they will improve communication between advocacy groups, offer emotional support, share ideas and help build volunteer bases.

The coalition has met monthly for the past few months and also communicates online. ARC is not currently a non-profit organization but will re-visit the idea in the future if circumstances warrant becoming more of a formal organization. Continue reading

Grand Rapids ArtPrize Includes Many Dog, Cat and Horse Art Entries

Photos and Descriptions Courtesy of ArtPrize

ArtPrize is underway in Grand Rapids and Pet Friends Magazine has found many entries that are cat, dog or horse related. ArtPrize is an open, independently organized international art competition that takes place for 19 days each fall. This year’s competition runs through Sunday, October 8th. More than $500,000 in prizes are awarded every year which includes a $200,000 public vote prize and another $200,000 prize awarded by a jury of art experts.

Art is displayed at many different venues in Grand Rapids as well as being showcased online. To sign up to vote, please go to the link here which includes directions on how to vote on your computer or to download a mobile app. Photos and artist’s entry information are below. Click on the name of the entry to go to that page and see the artwork and more about the entry.


1. Scout The Frisbee Dog









Scout, the Frisbee dog is a 3D cardboard/paper sculpture. Scout, appears to defy gravity while trying to grab a frisbee out of the air. His athletic pose creates a sense of anticipation and motion. The cardboard sculpture is painted to resemble a black and white border collie, the kind of dog you would likely see competing at an international frisbee dog competition. Overlapping layers of cardboard and paper gives Scout a life-like and whimsical appearance. Both the dog and frisbee are made of cardboard/paper, a renewable/recyclable material. Continue reading

Horse at Center of Abuse Allegations in Tuscola County Euthanized

A local horse in Tuscola County that sparked outcries of abuse from many around Mid-Michigan has been euthanized after a photo was circulated by thousands on social media. The photos were initially posted by Zack Kolaja and shared more than 6,000 times on Facebook.  “We could see its ribs. The rib cage,” Steve Kolaja said.

photo credit: Zack Kolaja

Kolaja couldn’t believe his eyes when he drove past the three horses on Barnes Road in Millington. He said he immediately had to stop and check on them.

“We went over and took that water can over to the horse and he lifted up his head and was almost choking as he was taking a drink,” Kolaja said.

Kolaja said the horse’s hooves were so overgrown it couldn’t walk. He added he saw sores on its back. He said the other two horses looked like they had not eaten in a while. Click here for more on the story.

Federal Government Seeking Public Comment on Changing Regulations of Puppy Mills

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the Federal Government is soliciting public comment on potential revisions to the licensing requirements under their Animal Welfare Act regulations to promote compliance with the Act and strengthen existing safeguards that prevent any individual whose license has been suspended or revoked, or who has a history of noncompliance, from obtaining a license or working with regulated animals. They are soliciting public comment on these topics to help them consider ways to reduce regulatory burden and more efficiently ensure the sustained compliance of licensees with the Act.

Some of the proposed changes include 1. Establishing a firm expiration date for licenses (e.g., after a 3-5 year period), after which the licensee would once again be required to affirmatively demonstrate compliance before obtaining another license. 2. Requiring licensees to affirmatively demonstrate compliance when making noteworthy changes subsequent to the issuance of a license in regard to the number, type, or location of animals used in regulated activities. 3. Requiring license applicants to disclose any animal cruelty convictions or other violations of Federal, State, or local laws or regulations pertaining to animals;

You can read the printed version of the regulations at the link here. Public comments need to be submitted by October 23, 2017 at the same link.

Help the Dogs in Texas at the Hurricane Harvey Benefit Dog Walk in Traverse City

Woofers On The Run invites the public to the Hurricane Harvey Benefit Dog Walk on Sunday, September 17th at 2:00 pm at the Grand Traverse Civic Center in Traverse City. The event starts near the south end basketball courts and Norte club house.

Event day registration is $15.00 with 100% of proceeds being donated to non-profit Corridor Rescue, Inc. a street dog rescue in Houston, TX. After the recent flooding, the group is very busy rescuing street dogs and helping owners in need. Their facility also flooded, so repairs are needed. You can follow the group and their rescues here. Donations can also be made directly at their website here.

The walk will be held rain or shine. Grab the dog, the kids, the neighbors and join them for an afternoon of canine fun including free professional photos in the finish line pet photo booth, beef jerky dog treats from New Braunfels Smokehouse in Texas and lots of great prize drawings! Dogs will also have the opportunity to become members of the Woofers Adventure Club (WAC) hiking and social group. The WAC group hosts year-round active, outdoor adventures for TC pups and peeps. Continue reading

Stray Funds Sought: Grand Traverse County Commissioners Discuss Animal Control Proposals

Forgetful or thrifty local pet owners soon could see a gentle reminder to buy a dog license pop up in their social media feeds. A multi-media campaign encouraging those $30 yearly purchases is one of several proposals to prop up Grand Traverse County’s struggling animal control service. County Commissioner Cheryl Gore Follette on Wednesday detailed efforts to help the service become self-sufficient, at the least. Click here for the rest of the story.

Grand Traverse County Animal Control Officer Deb Zerafa Rescues Seagull from City Opera House Roof on Her Day Off

There was a flurry of Facebook activity starting at around 5:10 p.m. on Sunday, September 3rd regarding a seagull being stuck on the roof of the City Opera House. Calls were made to various places to no avail. It’s hard enough to save animals on a weekday let alone a holiday weekend when no one is around.

Concerned citizen Nick Dalton had tried to contact 911, Animal Control, the Fire Department, Cherryland Humane Society, the media and many others but no help came. The City of Traverse City doesn’t have their own Animal Control Officer. Grand Traverse County Animal Control officers weren’t working because of the holiday and are not on call. Other entities might not have the resources or ability to resolve the situation. Animal lover Suzanne Weiler put out a plea on Facebook on Sunday afternoon, reporting that the bird had been stuck on the roof of the City Opera House for several days because it was impaled by a lightening rod. Disheartened residents and tourists watched the bird struggle, laying down and getting back up and also getting weaker without food, water or shelter. Many times when it stopped moving, onlookers thought it had died.


Weiler’s Facebook post spread fast and many concerned citizens were trying to figure out a way to help the bird before it died. Ggetting on the roof looked impossible because no staff or board members from the City Opera House were able to be contacted and rescuing the bird from the street looked like a daunting and unachievable option. Continue reading

Work Continues To Improve Grand Traverse County Animal Control Department

The Grand Traverse County Animal Control Ad Hoc Committee and the community, working to fix a growing issue. Back in June, the committee was formed to help raise money and make improvements to the Animal Control Department. There are several solutions being considered but it was evident Wednesday night there won’t be a quick fix for Animal Control. Click here for more on the story.

‘McRescued!’ – Cat Rescued from McDonald’s Drain Pipe in Oceana County

A 6-week-old kitten stuck in a drain pipe for 48 hours just outside of the McDonald’s restaurant by the drive-through was rescued thanks to the dedicated volunteers of Oceana County Animal Friends. The male kitten is recovering and is expected to be fine following his harrowing ordeal.

“Everyone could hear him crying who went through the drive-through,” said OCAF President Kathie Babbin. Click here for the rest of the story.

USDA Seeks Public Input on Updates to Animal Welfare Act Licensing Requirements

Marking the 51st anniversary of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) this week, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today asked for input from the public to help determine potential updates to the law’s licensing requirements.  The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is tasked with upholding and enforcing the AWA.  The AWA was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on August 24, 1966.

“As a trained veterinarian, humane standards of care for animals are close to my heart and central to my love and concern for our four-legged friends,” Perdue said.  “Administering the AWA is a key USDA mission, and we are always looking for ways to improve.  We welcome comments from the public as APHIS considers changes to the licensing requirements to help us fulfill this important responsibility.”

Each year, USDA issues nearly 6,000 licenses to people who breed, sell, or exhibit animals for commercial purposes.  The department is responsible for ensuring that these licensees comply with the AWA’s humane standards of care, which enables the American public to confidently purchase pets and view animals on public display. Click here for the rest of the story.

Officials Seek Options as Support for Lansing Seized Pit Bulls Swells

Ingham County officials are exploring an arrangement that might allow at least some of the dogs seized in a local dogfighting investigation to escape euthanasia as their fate draws growing nationwide attention. A civil hearing Friday on a county request to euthanize nine of the 53 dogs seized in the probe was adjourned because one of the two owners of the dogs had changed attorneys and the other owner was unrepresented. Click here for the rest of the story.

Animal Charities to Participate in SwingShift and the Stars in Fall 2017

photo credit: Erik Nygren,

The Charlevoix Area Humane Society and Peace Ranch will be charity participants for this year’s SwingShift and the Stars event held at the City Opera House in Traverse City. WQON’s Jerry Coyne will team up with Dance Instructor Julie Wojcik on October 20th for the 2nd competition out of four dates for the Charlevoix Area Humane Society. WTCM’s Colleen Wares will dance with Instructor Mel Kiogima, representing Peace Ranch, on November 17th for the 3rd competition. Both events start with the doors opening at 6:30 p.m. and audience dance lessons at 6:45 p.m. The show starts at 7:15 p.m. and there is a cash bar.

Peace Ranch provides Professional Equine Assisted Counseling and Education (PEACE) services for all in need regardless of ability to pay.

The Charlevoix Area Humane Society’s mission is to practice and promote the principle that every life is precious. As such, they are committed to the highest principles of humane care and professional treatment of injured, ill, neglected or abused animals at their animal Shelter in Boyne City. Continue reading