Press Release: KHS announces $4.75 mil capital campaign for new facility; $3 mil already raised

PRESS RELEASE

proposal

June 13, 2017
MEDIA CONTACT:
Aaron Winters, Executive Director
Kalamazoo Humane Society
269-345-1181 / awinters@kazoohumane.org

$4.75 MILLION CAPITAL CAMPAIGN
TO CREATE CRUCIAL CARE AND RESOURCE CENTER FOR ANIMALS

Kalamazoo Humane Society Kicks Off Fundraiser for New Facility
Expanding Spay/Neuter Services, Education, Support Services

KALAMAZOO, Michigan—The Kalamazoo Humane Society’s new animal care and resource facility edged closer to reality today as the Kalamazoo Humane Society (KHS) announced it had raised $3 million toward a goal of $4.75 million and invited the community to help finish the task.

KHS kicked off the public portion of its capital campaign at a news conference in downtown Kalamazoo, surrounded by supporters, local dignitaries and a few pets.
“The amazingly generous response we’ve seen in the early part of our capital campaign shows what I’ve always known, that this community loves, cares for and wants to protect its animals,” said Aaron Winters, Executive Director of KHS.

Robert Cinabro and Colleen Killen-Roberts, co-chairs of the Compassion/Prevention/Results Campaign, shared Winters’ enthusiasm.

“The Kalamazoo Humane Society’s campaign began with a simple goal: to fund an animal care and resource center to tackle increased demand for access to services that help not only reduce the number of unwanted pets in shelters and on the streets but also help keep pets safe and in their own homes,” said Cinabro. “Thanks to the vision and commitment of 140 donors to date, we’ve made outstanding progress toward that goal.”

“The specific needs of the Kalamazoo community may have changed over 120 years, but the Kalamazoo Humane Society has remained committed to protecting the vulnerable since 1897,” added Killen-Roberts. “This new animal care and resource center, which expands the Humane Society’s crucial medical, education and support services, is the next step in advancing our identity as a compassionate community. Now we’re asking the rest of the community to take us over the finish line in this important campaign.”
The new facility will be located in Comstock Township at River Street and the I-94 Business Loop. It will replace the Humane Society’s current home, which is a converted bridal shop. Winters said the center will expand KHS’s low-cost spay and neuter services to reduce unwanted litters, increase access to its emergency pet food bank and other services for pet owners in crisis, and provide humane education activities to promote responsible treatment of animals.

Operation Fix-It, KHS’s spay and neuter program, has exceeded 60,000 procedures since 2002, which correlates to dramatic reductions in the number of animals housed in the shelter operated by Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement. Reportedly, in 2015 no dogs were euthanized for lack of space—a result attributed to Operation Fix-It.
The new animal care and resource center will increase the scope of Operation Fix-It, according to Winters.

“When complete, our new home will allow us to grow programs that reduce the number of shelter animals through education and access to medical services and assistance,” Winters said.

Construction of the animal care and resource center should begin by spring 2018.
The Kalamazoo Humane Society is a qualified 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, meaning gifts are tax-deductible. Individuals and groups wishing to support the Compassion/Prevention/Results Campaign may do so in any of the following ways:

• A one-time cash gift
• A multi-year pledge commitment that can be paid over three years
• A gift of appreciated assets, such as stocks
• A donation of an asset that can be converted to cash, such as property, a car, collectibles, etc.
• An estate gift

More information about the Kalamazoo Humane Society and the Animal Care and Resource Center, including an informational video, is available online at www.kazoohumane.org/campaign

About the Kalamazoo Humane Society
Founded in 1897, the Kalamazoo Humane Society provides humane education, pet population control and emergency response services to pets and pet owners throughout Kalamazoo County and many under-served Southwest Michigan communities. Find out more at http://www.kazoohumane.org, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Bills 413, 414 and 416 need your support! #protectMIanimals

DSC_0015In 2012 as an Animal Services Officer I reached out to the Humane Society of the United States to help me investigate dog fighting here in Kalamazoo.  With limited resources and training, I knew I needed help and the HSUS stepped in and gave myself and my department all the tools we needed to go after the big names on my list.  The HSUS invested $250,000 into investigating and prosecuting dog fighting here in Kalamazoo.  The 2012 string of dog fighting raids was a success because of the help of the experts and generous donors of the HSUS.

Michigan has some of the best laws out there to protect animals from fighting and abuse, but it lacks in the ability to punish people who break these laws.  Time and time again we have watched dog fighters in Kalamazoo, Detroit, and all over the state get away with minor penalties for felony offenses, and as a result they pick up where they left off and get more dogs to continue.

khs-press-release-photos7

It’s important to know that for people who are fighting dogs, this blood sport is a business, a way of life, and an addiction.  It isn’t something they’ll give up without a compelling reason.  A 1-30 day sentence to jail is worth it, because the rewards greatly outweigh the risks.

This game of cat and mouse between law enforcement and dog fighters is maddening, because even though law enforcement may “win” in a legal sense, the offender knows that nothing has really changed, and they can continue as soon as probation is over.  In the end, with these cases taking months to years to properly investigate and prosecute, it’s hard to justify the effort.  The only silver lining is knowing that the dogs we were able to rescue would never know that kind of life again.  Getting the dogs out was the only thing that made it worth the time.

dog3After watching Kelvin Thomas receive a slap on the wrist for his 3rd dog fighting offense, we knew something had to change.  Our system was broken and needed fixing.  Public outrage over the sentencing of Kelvin Thomas made it clear that it was time to take this problem to the next level.

Again, we reached out to our friends at the HSUS and we began working to make changes to the current laws.  Senator Margaret O’Brien sponsored these changes that would eventually become bills 413 and 414, and would create mandatory minimum sentences for repeat offenders.

Yesterday I was able to sit in on a hearing before the Senate Judiciary committee regarding bills 413 and 414.  The bills passed the Senate unanimously and will continue to move through the legislative process.  We hope to have these bills written into the law before the end of 2017 but it could be 2018.

Also introduced was bill 416.  Currently, if a humane agency is in custody of a dog that is known to be bred or trained for fighting purposes, it is illegal to adopt those dogs.  This goes for puppies, dogs that will not fight and breeding females.  In many cases the outcome is euthanasia after spending weeks to months in an animal shelter, as there is no place for these dogs to go unless an out of state agency is able to take them on.  Bill 416 would allow humane agencies the ability to adopt out dogs that can safely re-homed.  This bill would give the animal victims of dog fighting a chance at a better life, and a chance to become a pet.  It is no fault of the dog that they have found themselves in the hands of a dog fighter.  Together, bills 413, 414 and 416 make the necessary changes to our existing laws that allow humane law enforcement officers and court workers to effectively manage dog fighters and their animal victims in the aftermath of an investigation.

These bills can be supported individually or together.  This is the time to make it clear to our legislators that there is public support for these changes.  Please contact your legislator by writing a letter or an email, and express your support for bills 413/414 and 416.

All 3 bills (413, 414 and 416) were passed 4-0 with no objections with a recommendation to be immediately effective.  The video below is the recording of that Judiciary Committee hearing at 3:00PM June 6th, 2017.  413, 414 and 416 can be seen from the beginning of the video until 21:08, and voting begins at 44:40.

https://misenate.viebit.com/vod/?v=bshLUsD22WjV&s=false

Resources:

A Citizens Guide to State Government (2017; Michigan) – This PDF file includes all the information you would need to contact your legislator, and also outlines the process these bills are subject to.

Bill 413 – Details and PDF download of Bill 413

Bill 414 – Details and PDF download of Bill 414

Bill 416 – Details and PDF download of Bill 416

Dogfighting in Kalamazoo:

Marvis Blanks, 2012
HSUS Coverage of 2012 Collaberation
Leonard Turner, 2012
August 2012, Leonard Turner and Kelvin Thomas

KHS Blog Authors

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