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

Clarifying News Reports on KHS and the County Shelter

You may have seen news reports about Kalamazoo County’s plan to replace its old and outdated animal shelter. Some of the coverage wasn’t clear, so we’re taking this opportunity to clarify.

First, and most important, we applaud Kalamazoo County’s plan to replace the shelter. Our long partnership with the County to promote spaying and neutering has greatly reduced the unwanted pet population. That’s good news! At the same time, it’s not a perfect solution. There’s still a need for a shelter. And the current one falls far short of the commitment to humane treatment of animals that both the County and the Humane Society share.

Second, as most of you know, we’re in the early stages of creating a capital campaign to build a new home for the Kalamazoo Humane Society. We hope to officially launch that campaign later this year. The new KHS facility will not be a shelter. Our primary mission will be to expand spay/neuter and educational services so we can reduce the unwanted pet population even more. That will give the County’s new shelter more opportunity to find homes for the pets that go there. So it’s a win-win for both of us, and especially for the animals. That’s the heart of our partnership.

We’re grateful for the hard work of the Animal Services Advisory Board, Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement and County leaders. We’re eager to strengthen our partnership with them to benefit the animals of our community.

Original News Story on mLive –> http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2017/02/kalamazoo_county_seeks_alterna.html

 

Kalamazoo dog fighter accepts plea deal. Again.

MI Dogfighting Rescue

A pit bull is seen chained on Kelvin Thomas’ property during a rescue conducted by Kalamazoo County Animal Services in Oshtemo Township, Mich. on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016.

The Kalamazoo Humane Society was able to offer a helping hand to Kalamazoo County Animal Services this February while they executed a search warrant at the home of Kelvin Thomas for the second time.  Now, just 9 months after Faith Temple Church of God Bishop T.D. Lockett proclaimed that he felt Thomas was being framed, Thomas, a former church Elder, has pled to felony dog fighting charges making this his 3rd conviction for dog fighting.  Thanks to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved, Thomas has now accepted the harshest penalty to be handed down to a dog fighter in Kalamazoo County history.

For those following this case, we know the hope was that he would receive jail time, however due to the sentencing guidelines, we’re happy to say he’s getting the max penalty he can receive at this time, based on the charges he pled to.  If he fails to meet the requirements of his probation, jail/prison time is still an option.

Link to story: http://wwmt.com/news/local/kelvin-thomas-takes-plea-deal-in-animal-fighting-case

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – An Oshtemo Township man charged for the third time with animal fighting is taking a plea deal.

10 dogs were taken from Kelvin Thomas’ home in February.

The United States Humane Society was even called in to help with recovery.

Despite being a habitual offender, Thomas isn’t expected to face jail time for these crimes. Instead he’ll have to complete several classes, and serve years of probation.

Thomas waived his right to a trial in court on Tuesday.

“He told the officer he owned 7 dogs, records show none were registered,” said Steve Lawrence, the Kalamazoo County Director of Animal Services. “None of them had water, several we think all were anxious to get into a warm place.”

10 young dogs were taken from Thomas’ Oshtemo Township home this Feburary.

Dogs experts say he was training them to fight.

“They were able to find that he had been advertising the dogs or the puppies which they do for fighting dogs,” Lawrence said.

36 dogs were taken from the same home back in 2012.

Thomas was ordered to two years probation at the time.

“Michigan has some of the best cruelty laws in the country; the problem is the penalty for them is not as strict as it needs to be in some cases,” Lawrence said.

Now, jail time will likely be waived, but his probation extended, thanks to stronger animal cruelty laws passed since his first charge.

Thomas will be sentenced in January.

If he violates any of his probation terms, he could also serve jail time.

He’s not allowed to own any animals during that time.

dog3

Related News:

http://wwmt.com/news/local/more-dogs-seized-from-home-of-convicted-dog-fighter

http://wwmt.com/news/local/church-leader-claims-dog-fighting-suspect-church-elder-is-innocent

http://wwmt.com/news/local/facing-possible-animal-cruelty-charges-w-mich-man-resigns-from-church-position

http://wwmt.com/news/local/kalamazoo-co-man-facing-dogfighting-charges-turns-himself-in

http://wwmt.com/news/local/repeat-offenders-causing-michigan-to-re-evaluate-animal-cruelty-laws

http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2012/12/oshtemo_township_man_given_com.html

http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2012/08/suspected_dogfighting_operatio.html

 

 

$20 spay/neuter surgeries for puppies and kittens; June only!

728-x-90-Banner_PNP

Sponsored by PetSmart Charities® “Precious, Not Parents” campaign offers $20 spay/neuter surgeries for puppies and kittens under 6 months old

Kalamazoo, MI (MAY 18, 2016) –  They may be just babies, but kittens as young as 4 months and puppies as young as 5 months are old enough to get pregnant and have their first litter just two months later.  “These precious babies shouldn’t be parents at 5 and 6 months old,” says Julie Barber, Community Connections Director for the Kalamazoo Humane Society.

That’s why the Kalamazoo Humane Society, with funding provided by PetSmart Charities, the largest funder of animal welfare efforts in North America, is introducing the “Precious, Not Parents” campaign. Through the “Precious, Not Parents,” campaign, the Kalamazoo Humane Society will provide $20 spay and neuter surgeries for puppies and kittens under six months of age during the month of June.

Some pet parents may worry that their pet is too young for this procedure, but spaying and neutering is safe and easy for kittens and puppies as young as eight to 10 weeks old, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. In fact, the Kalamazoo Humane Society has performed more than 58,000 spay/neuter surgeries since 2012, many of which have been on puppies and kittens.

“Many owners put off the procedure and wait until the puppy or kitten is six to eight months old,” says Barber. “But by then, a litter of puppies or kittens can be born.”

This special $20 rate is even less than the organization’s normal low-cost priced and is available to the public with no residency or income requirements. Pet parents who wish to take advantage of this offer must mention the “Precious, Not Parents” campaign when they call to schedule their appointment. The campaign is based on availability.

the Kalamazoo Humane Society will provide “Precious, Not Parents,” sterilizations for $20 in June, while appointments last. Please visit http://www.kazoohumane.org or call 269-345-1181 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

PetSmart Charities’ “Precious, Not Parents” campaign provides more than $677,339 to spay/neuter clinics to fund affordable, high-quality spay and neuter surgeries for more than 16,864 puppies and kittens across the nation during the month of June.

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. Find out more at http://www.kazoohumane.org, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter

About PetSmart Charities®
PetSmart Charities, Inc. is a nonprofit animal welfare organization that saves the lives of homeless pets.  Each year nearly 500,000 dogs and cats find homes through our adoption program in all PetSmart® stores across the U.S. and sponsored adoption events.  Each year millions of PetSmart shoppers contribute to PetSmart Charities to help pets in need by making donations on a pin pad at the register.  PetSmart Charities efficiently uses 90 cents of every dollar to support its mission of finding lifelong, loving homes for all pets.  PetSmart Charities grants more money to directly help pets in need than any other animal welfare group in North America, with a focus on funding adoption and spay/neuter programs that help communities solve pet overpopulation.  PetSmart Charities is a 501(c)(3) organization, independent from PetSmart, Inc.  PetSmart Charities has received the Four Star Rating for the past 13 years from Charity Navigator, an independent nonprofit that reports on the effectiveness, accountability and transparency of nonprofits, placing it among the top one percent of charities rated by this organization

Aaron Winters on the Lori Moore Show today at 4pm

Aaron Winters, Executive Director of the Kalamazoo Humane Society appears on set with Lori Moore

Aaron Winters, Executive Director of the Kalamazoo Humane Society appears on set with Lori Moore

Make sure to catch the Lori Moore show today at 4pm on the CW7 and watch Aaron Winters, Executive Director of the Kalamazoo Humane Society!  Today he’ll be talking about the Dog Walk & K-9 Festival and more about the services KHS provides.

Thanks for having us Lori!  Check out Lori’s facebook page here!

KHS Blog Authors

%d bloggers like this: