Upton Foundation issues challenge grant for Humane Society

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON TOWNSHIP — The Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan announced Wednesday it is getting additional help for its new shelter.

The Frederick S. Upton Foundation issued a $150,000 challenge grant to support construction of the Humane Society’s new facility. Through the grant, the Upton Foundation will match all donations to the Humane Society’s Capital Building Fund, up to a total of $75,000 in 2016 and again in 2017.

Meeting this challenge will bring a total of $300,000 to the Humane Society’s shelter fund. The total cost for the new shelter is $2 million, and the Humane Society has raised more than $900,000. The $300,000 that could be raised in the next two years represents 15 percent of the overall cost.

At 641 S. Crystal Ave. in Benton Township, the Humane Society operates the only no-kill shelter in Berrien County. Its current shelter, built in 1963, is considered to be undersized, outdated, inefficient and in need of costly repairs.

Don Blackmond, president of the HSSM Board of Directors, said they learned of the Upton Foundation’s two-year commitment two weeks ago, but waited to announce the news once the language was approved.

“It’s a small portion, but a significant step toward our ultimate goal,” Blackmond said. “We’ve been raising money for just over two years, so this commitment is greatly appreciated.”

Last summer, Blackmond said they initiated the process to apply for the grant. After a few grant cycles passed, the Upton Foundation ultimately approved the challenge grant.

“It’s been a long time in the making to get to this point,” Blackmond said. “When you’re dealing with the Upton Foundation you also have to work within those grant cycles. Last summer they requested additional info for the November grant cycle.”

At full capacity, the shelter is home to about 60 dogs and 100 cats. Blackmond said a new shelter is vital to the shelter’s mission to provide a safe haven for homeless dogs and cats in Southwest Michigan.

“Our existing shelter is worn out and gets used very hard,” Blackmond said. “The cost to repair and upgrade is not economical. It makes sense to build a new, free-standing structure. We save more than 400 dogs and cats each year, but it’s not enough. We have to turn away three to four dogs and six to eight cats each week.”

The new shelter would significantly increase the number of animals rescued, preventing them from going to “kill facilities.”

Land for a new shelter was purchased on M-139, north of John Beers Road in Royalton Township. Construction plans include a new medical area, administration, training and education sections, and separate wings for the dogs and cats.

Anyone interested in learning more about the shelter plans or donating to the Capital Building Fund can visit www.humanesocietyswm.org.

Donations can be made by PayPal or credit card through the website or by calling the shelter at 927-3303. The Humane Society also accepts donations through the Berrien Community Foundation.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on June 9, 2016)


Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan to hold open house

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON TOWNSHIP — The Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan is prepping for its annual Holiday Open House.

Alissa Saul, office manager at the Humane Society, said it will open its doors to the public in an attempt to help raise funds for a new building.

“This year it’s all going toward our new facility,” she said. “We’ll have all kinds of refreshments and raffle prizes. It’s a good day to bring in donations to get us and the animals by for the year.”

The open house will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 12 in its current building at 641 S. Crystal Ave. in Benton Township.

The all-day event began appearing at the Humane Society in December decades ago to help the shelter get ahead for the new year.

Receipts will be available for tax-deductable donations. While the Humane Society is accepting any form of monetary donations – credit cards, personal checks and cash – Saul said they are also accepting food and toys for the homeless cats and dogs.

“We do rely on product donation to get us through the year,” she said. “Dry puppy and dog food, cat litter, paper towels and bleach is a big thing we always need. Toys are nice too because it gives them something to do while they are in our care.”

If anyone who cannot attend still wants to donate, they can do so through the Humane Society’s website at www.humanesocietyswm.org.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Dec. 5, 2015)

Pound Buddies partners with Raymond James to deliver animal adoption ‘Meet & Greet’

Pound Buddies will be teaming up with Raymond James for a “Meet & Greet” on Saturday, Aug. 23 to help both dogs and cats find a new home. (Madelyn Hastings | Photographer)

Pound Buddies will be teaming up with Raymond James for a “Meet & Greet” on Saturday, Aug. 23 to help both dogs and cats find a new home. (Madelyn Hastings | Photographer)

By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

MONTAGUE, MI — Wet noses and whiskers will get a second look this weekend.

Pound Buddies is teaming up with Raymond James for a “Meet & Greet” on Saturday, Aug. 23 to help both dogs and cats find new homes. The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the grassy park across the street from the Montague Farmers’ Market.

The available animals will be made up of the dogs and cats ready for adoption from Pound Buddies Animal Shelter and Adoption Center in Muskegon. The “Meet & Greet” is being sponsored and staffed by Raymond James as part of national Raymond James Cares Month.

Pound Buddies staff, volunteers and participants in Pound Buddies’ foster dog program will also be there to help and supply information as well as provide pet application forms.

“This fun event will give people the opportunity to meet and play with some delightful dogs and cats and to support Pound Buddies, which does a remarkable job managing nearly 2,000 homeless dogs a year and hundreds of homeless cats,” said Judy Stojak, associate vice president for investments for Raymond James, Muskegon and Pound Buddies board member.

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Staff from the Raymond James office in Muskegon will be selling homemade treats for both people and pets.

Additionally, a photo studio will be set up for people who would like to have their picture taken with their current pets, and live music will be provided by Montague residents, Karen and Eric Smith.

Donations of dog and cat food, kitty litter and office supplies are welcome by “Meet & Greet” attendees. All goods and money raised will be given to Pound Buddies.

Pound Buddies has been taking part in animal rescue in Muskegon County for more than 16 years. Since 2010, it has managed Muskegon County’s animal shelter where it has developed adoption and foster care programs.

For those seeking information about Pound Buddies or hoping to fill out a pet application prior to the “Meet & Greet,” visit their website at www.poundbuddies.org.

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at twittkow@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Aug. 21, 2014)