KHS assists in dog fighting raid in Oshtemo Twsp

Oshtemo Township, MI, February 17, 2016– Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement has been investigating dog fighting in Kalamazoo, which has led them to 7645 W KL Avenue for the second time since August 2012. A specialized team of law enforcement and animal welfare experts from Kalamazoo County Animal Services, the Kalamazoo County Sheriff Department, Kalamazoo Humane Society and Humane Society of the United States converged on the property belonging to Kelvin Thomas, 55, at approximately 9:00am on Wednesday morning. The search uncovered 3 Doberman Pinschers, 7 Pit Bull Terriers and evidence of dog fighting.

Thomas was a primary suspect in the 2012 dog fighting raids led by Kalamazoo County Animal Services. At that time, 32 dogs were removed from his property as well as overwhelming evidence of dog fighting, including a bloody fighting pit. He pled guilty to two charges in December of 2012 and received a sentence of $500 and court fines, 160 hours of community service and a two-year probation where Thomas was not to own or possess animals. Thomas only spent two days in jail.

None of the dogs seized on Wednesday were registered as required by state law, and all of the dogs were kept in the same pens and dog houses as those that were removed in 2012.

“Dog fighting is a serious offense that happens everywhere; not just major cities. Thomas is just one suspect on a long list of others in the Kalamazoo area,” says Mark Vanderberg, the investigating officer from Kalamazoo County Animal Services.

Charges are expected to be filed against Thomas after the dogs and evidence have been examined. There is no statement yet on the individual condition of the dogs that were seized, however there was a veterinarian at the scene during the search and seizure operation.

If Thomas is charged as a result of this latest investigation, this will be his third time facing charges for dog fighting.

If you suspect any dog fighting activity, contact Kalamazoo County Animal Services at 269-383-8775, or the animal services department for your county.

“Dog fighting is a well-hidden crime. Without the help of concerned citizens, many dog fighters will go undetected. We know It’s scary to step up and make a report, but it’s important to do the right thing for animals and for our community.” Says Aaron Winters, Executive Director of the Kalamazoo Humane Society.

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Julie Barber at 269-743-0393 or email jbarber@kazoohumane.org.

Humane Society of the United States Coverage:
http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2016/02/kalamazoo-dogfight-raid-021716.html

Humane Lobby Day 2015

Humane Lobby Day 2015It’s Humane Lobby Day in Michigan, and KHS Executive Director Aaron Winters, along with KHS Board President Gretchen Smith and KHS Board Member Bette Zawacki are in Lansing, ready to talk about legislation that impacts animals.

Sponsored by The HSUS in state capitals across the country, Humane Lobby Days give citizen animal advocates like you an opportunity to ask your state legislators to pass laws that protect animals.

KHS is a proud co-sponsor of this event, and we’d like to let everyone know how to help!  Michigan has some of the best animal protection laws in the country, but there is always room for improvement.  While we know that not everyone can take a weekday off work to attend a Lobby Day, you can still reach out to your law makers and express your thoughts and concerns regarding animal welfare laws.

The Michigan Legislature Website has a listing of all the MI Legislators.

Search Tool:  Find your Representative
Search Tool:  Find your Senator

Humane Lobby Day Banner

National Lost Dog Awareness Day

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith today being National Lost Dog Awareness Day we have the perfect opportunity to talk about what to do if you happen to lose or find a pet.  The information provided here is basic, and there is always going to be more you could do as the owner or finder of a lost pet, but these tips should be the minimum steps you follow to lead to a speedy reunion.

Lost Pets:
Don’t wait 2 days to see if Fluffy or Fido is going to return home all by himself.  In the time you wasted waiting for your pet to reappear, he/she could have been taken in by someone else, taken to the shelter, hit by a car, eaten by a coyote, or number of other scenarios that results in your pet still being lost.  TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION!  It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Within the first hours:

  1. Contact Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement at 269-383-8775 (or your own local Animal Services department) and file a LOST report.  KCASE also has a great Lost and Found website where you can upload a photo of your lost pet, and view all the found pets that have been reported.  Contacting your local shelter is critical.  People call Animal Control when they see dogs running loose, injured animals, or deceased animals.  They may already be able to tell you where your pet was last spotted.
  2. If your pet is microchipped, call the microchip company and make sure you report your animal  LOST and confirm that your information is up to date.  It’s no use calling them to report the pet lost if you have a disconnected phone number on the record.
  3. Check with neighbors and businesses in your local vicinity.  If a close-to-home search fails, expand outward.
  4. Report it lost to the world!  Social media has a HUGE impact on pet recovery.  Post pictures and the last known location with a date and time, then ask all of your friends and family to share.  Check out Kalamazoo Area Lost Pets and keep this site handy in case you ever find or lose a pet.

Within the first 24-48 hours:

  1. Know your pet.  What route do you normally walk?  Has your pet ever gotten out before?  Does your cat normally hide or is he/she more likely to come to a front door?  Knowing your pet’s habits and routines can help you narrow down where and how you should be searching.
  2. Create posters and distribute them where ever you can get them.  We found a really cool online tool for making a lost pet poster, but feel free to use your own:  http://www.petbond.com/flyerentry.php?oid=bf
  3. Visit the local shelter.  Even though you made a lost report, the high volume of pets coming and going can make it difficult for staff to match an incoming dog or cat with your report.  Your pet is very special and unique to you, however your black and white cat is going to look just like every other black and white cat to the shelter staff.
  4. Be careful about offering an award, and be leery of people asking for a reward in exchange for your pet.  If you feel like something isn’t adding up, consider calling the police to help you in case you are being unlawfully targeted in a scam.

The following days, weeks and months…

  1. Do not give up!  Countless pets have been returned home after weeks and months on the run.  This isn’t as uncommon as you think.  If you have any doubts, contact your local shelter staff and ask for their stories of reunions happening long after the pet first went missing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFound Pets:
Congratulations on finding a stray pet!  Now what?

Within the first hours:

  1. Contact Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement at 269-383-8775 (or your own local Animal Services department) and file a FOUND report.  KCASE also has a great Lost and Found website where you can upload a photo of the found pet, and view all the lost pets that have been reported.  Contacting your local shelter is critical.  People call Animal Control when they lose a pet and the owner may have already contacted them.
  2. Check around your neighborhood and keep and eye out for people driving or walking by shouting out “Here Kitty” or “Here Buddy”
  3. Report it found to the world!  Social media has a HUGE impact on pet recovery.  Post pictures and the found location with a date and time, then ask all of your friends and family to share.  Check out Kalamazoo Area Lost Pets and keep this site handy incase you ever find or lose a pet.

Within the first 24-48 hours:

  1. Take the pet to a local vet clinic or shelter to be scanned for a microchip.  It used to be more common for purebred or designer dogs, but now that nearly all shelters and rescues are microchipping every cat and dog they can get their hands on, many mix breeds are also chipped and registered.
  2. Keep and eye out for LOST posters and consider creating your own FOUND poster and distribute them where ever you can get them.  We found a really cool online tool for making a found pet poster, but feel free to use your own:  http://www.petbond.com/flyerentry.php?oid=bf

After 30 days…

  1. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter 30 days of caring for an animal and making a reasonable effort to find it’s owner (reporting to your local Animal Control), most jurisdictions will consider the pet yours.  You must then obey and local and state laws including obtaining a dog license and rabies vaccine if the pet is still in your possession.
  2. If your intent is to find the pet a new home and you do give it away, make sure to update the FOUND report you filed with Animal Control in case an owner is still looking.

In many cases, people who find stray cats assume they were dropped off.  This is not true!  Cats can become lost on their own accord just like a dog, and the owners miss them and love them and want to find them.  Please don’t assume the new stray cat in your neighborhood was abandoned and take the time to report it found.

“The more people we touch, the more Pets we reunite”.

This quote comes from the anonymous founder of Kalamazoo Area Lost Pets (KALP).  Kalamazoo Area Lost Pets was created in 2013 after two friends, living in the same area, we’re notified by social media about a lost dog in their neighborhood. Understanding the strong connection between humans and their pets, KALP was created as a service to the community utilization social media to reconnect beloved lost pets with their owners. It quickly blossomed and as a community, they have reconnected countless separated pets with their owners.

We asked Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement to give us some statistics on lost and found pets, and the influx of animals coming into the shelter and the numbers should open your eyes about the sheer quantity of animals that run loose and get lost on any given day:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor the month of April 2015
27 – The number of stray confined animal reports (stray animals that have been confined by the finder and turned over to KCASE)
60 – Number of dogs that came into the shelter
54 – Number of cats that came into the shelter
30 – Number of lost reports filed
30 – Number of found reports filed

In conclusion:  Put tags on your pets, do not allow your pets to roam freely and make every attempt to keep them safely at home, and NEVER give up!

National Volunteer Week is April 12th – 18th

Volunteers are love in motion!  ~Author Unknown

KHS Adoption Counselor

KHS Adoption Counselor

National Volunteer Week is April 12th – 18th.  During this time millions of volunteers are thanked and supported by various group, agencies and corporations.  The Kalamazoo Humane Society joins this “Thank you” to the generous people that share their time and talents in support of our programs and projects.

Our goal is to let you know throughout the year how much you and your efforts are appreciated.  Each of you bring your special individual talents and gifts, all of these join together to make a major difference.  The impact of your efforts is confirmed by the reduction of homeless animals in our area, reduced number of dogs and cats in the county shelter, along with the shorter stays for the animals that do lodged there, and a healthier community for our furry friends.

Again, thank you for sharing your talents in support of the Kalamazoo Humane Society.

April Community Cats Program Full!

Our April Community Cats program is now full - No appointments available.

Our April Community Cats program is now full – No appointments available.

During the month of April, KHS was able to offer FREE spay/neuter surgeries, Rabies vaccines and ear-tipping as part of the PetSmart Charities’ spay and neuter campaign to alter free-roaming cats.  If left unaltered, unowned feral and stray cats produce large quantities of unwanted kittens each spring, flooding local animal shelters and leading to higher euthanasia rates.  By taking a proactive approach and getting the cats fixed now, KHS will help lessen the impact of the coming kitten season.

We were given enough grant funding to alter 400 cats, and all appointments have been booked!  If we have any cancellations that need to be filled we will post them here, but for now we are unable to accept any more appointments for the free program.

If all 400 cats that we alter this month had just one litter of 7 kittens which all survived, that would be a total of 2800 more cats born to the streets of Greater Kalamazoo.  If you are the owner of an unaltered cat, consider contacting us for a low-cost $40.00 surgery.  Give us a call at 269-345-1181 and we can go over any questions you might have.

April 8th is National Dog Fighting Awareness Day

Happy National Dog Fighting Awareness Day!

Before her rescue, "Giselle" was chained infront of her dog house, hidden in the woods where no one would hear her barks for help.

Before her rescue, “Giselle” was chained infront of her dog house, hidden in the woods where no one would hear her barks for help.

That didn’t sound right, did it?  It’s sad that there even needs to be a day to bring attention to this horrible crime, and yet everyday, countless animals will suffer because people will use the human-animal bond for profit, even if it means the death or torture of an animal.

Kalamazoo has its own ties to dog fighting.  The Kalamazoo Humane Society was able to assist in the dog fighting raids that occurred right here in Kalamazoo in the late summer of 2012.  Over the course of 3 weeks, three Kalamazoo area homes were targeted and at each home, dogs and evidence of dog fighting were discovered.  Two of the three homes had bloody pits on the premises, which speaks volumes to the frequency these animals were forced to fight each other to please their owners.

This is old news, but don’t think that there aren’t still dog fighters in Greater Kalamazoo who have learned from the 2012 raids and are changing tactics.  Dog fighters live in the city or country; they work/play/worship at the same places you work/play/worship.  Dog fighting is not limited by race, religion or financial stature.  Dog fighting is everywhere and can only be stopped if people are willing to see it and report it.

Giselle now lives the way every dog should; safe, happy and loved.

Giselle now lives the way every dog should; safe, happy and loved.

You will likely never witness a fight in action.  Finding a dog fight in progress is nearly impossible, even for professional response teams.  Despite the slim chance of finding an actual fight, you will see other signs that an animal owner is using dogs for fighting including:

  • Unusually high turn-over – Dogs may come and go frequently.  Some dogs may eventually return and others may not.
  • Equipment above what the “average” owner may keep on hand such as treadmills/slat mills, flirt poles, weighted collars, garage door springs attached to the dog chains, and other items not normally used by the average dog owner.
  • Dogs separated by chains, kennels or fencing – Fighting dogs need to be kept apart
  • Barrel-style dog houses
  • Frequent barking coming from wood areas or far behind houses
"Crosby" was rescued from the home of Leonard Turner of Kalamazoo Township.  He was only about 8 weeks old when he was saved, and never had to know the horrors of the Pit.

“Crosby” was rescued from the home of Leonard Turner of Kalamazoo Township. He was only about 8 weeks old when he was saved, and never had to know the horrors of the Pit.

There are many other signs of dog fighting.  From our experience, many fighting dogs do not look like “pure bred” Pit Bulls.  The large, barrel-chested stocky Pit Bulls are generally show dogs or pets and are not good for fighting.  Leaner Pit Bull mix dogs tend to be what we see more of in this area.  The dogs can be any color but are rarely blue or grey.  Black and white, brindle and buckskin colored dogs were found more often than other colors.  Fighting dogs can be kept indoors or outdoors, in sheds, garages, basements, wooded areas or barns.

The HSUS offers up to a $5,000 reward to anyone who reports dog fighting that results in criminal charges.  One of the witnesses to report dog fighting at the home of Kelvin Thomas on W. KL  Avenue did receive a full $5,000 payout for the tip that led to Thomas’ arrest.

Please keep in mind that not all Pit Bull owners are dog fighters and not all Pit Bulls are aggressive!

If you suspect dog fighting, contact your local Animal Control department.  Kalamazoo County residents should contact Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement at 269-383-8775.

Dog Fighting can also be reported directly to the HSUS Tipline at 1-877-TIP-HSUS or 1-877-847-4787

Aaron Winters, Executive Director of the Kalamazoo Humane Society, assists in the rescue of fighting dogs in August 2012 in Oshtemo Township, MI alongside Kalamazoo County Animal Services and the HSUS.

Aaron Winters, Executive Director of the Kalamazoo Humane Society, assists in the rescue of fighting dogs in August 2012 in Oshtemo Township, MI alongside Kalamazoo County Animal Services and the HSUS.

Related Media:

Related Dog Fighting Information:

via National Dog Fighting Awareness Day | ASPCA.

KHS Blog Authors

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