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The Humane Society of West Michigan's 1st priority: Keep pets with their families

The Humane Society offers help to families with pets in need.

Kids and the Humane Society

Ms. Gonzalez was excited to report that some of their most enthusiastic volunteers and givers are children in West Michigan.  The HSWM received donations all summer long from the kids who attended their camps, and many area children have chosen to forego birthday gifts, instead asking that donations be given to the animals at the Humane Society.  Parents who would like a different birthday party venue can contact the HSWM to book an event that highlights a different type of giving.

The effects of the financial sector crash of 2008 keep affecting families in West Michigan.  Many families still struggle with unemployment and underemployment.  It was Hunger Action Week last week in West Michigan, and I wondered what people did when both they and their pets are hungry.  We've all seen the rise in obvious homelessness beside highway exits and frequently trafficked roads, but tragic things also happen behind the scenes when people feel they have few options.  Puppies get thrown in dumpsters and or dumped off on country roads.  I called The Humane Society of West Michigan (HSWM) to see what was happening from their point of view and what their response to the need has been?

Carlita Gonzalez, Community Outreach Coordinator, had some good news to tell me. While many families with pets in West Michigan are struggling, they haven't seen drastic increases in animal abuse or thrown away pets at HSWM.  They have two programs that directly deal with their goal of keeping pets with their families rather than try and re-home them: Kibble Konnection, a monthly program that distributes pet food to families, and Vaccination Station, a low cost vaccination clinic that subsidizes the costs of pet vaccinations.  About 140-150 families a month take part in Kibble Konnection, and they see about 7-10 new families every month, with other families leaving the program as their circumstances improve.  There is a 3-pet limit, but families can get either dog or cat food or a combination of the two.  The food for this program is largely supplied by donations from people in West Michigan who understand that losing a pet is a heart-wrenching experience and contribute to make sure it happens less often.  (If you wish to donate to Kibble Konnection, a list of drop-off sites can be found on the website.)  They also receive pet food from some corporate sponsors.  Walmart and Chow Hound Pet Supplies are regular contributors.    

The HSWM Vaccination Station is also well utilized due to the substantially subsidized vaccinations they offer for cats and dogs.  There is a monthly 3-hour clinic at the HSWM, and one at C-SNIP as well.  Many low income people will skip vaccinations assuming they're not really necessary, but these vaccinations are recommended by veterinarians because the diseases they prevent are dangerous (to people and other animals), fatal, or very expensive to treat once contracted.  

The Humane Society's programs are a great example of the community giving and receiving to and from each other in a time of need.  It's good to know that this resource is available.  You may, in fact, know someone with pets who could benefit from it right now.  Tell them!

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