The shelter’s marketing and events coordinator, Nicole Cook, gives us this update: “Weston has been at our organization for about two months. He is a high-energy dog who needs lots of exercise. He gets stressed in our kennels and really thrives when we take him outside. Having the new agility course in our dog park is exactly what Weston needed! We take him out several times a day — sometimes we just play fetch with him but the majority of the time we focus his energy by teaching him the agility course and introducing him to the obstacles! We have noticed that he has picked up quickly on learning the course and we are excited to share his skills with potential adopters!
“Another dog who has really excelled in the new agility course is Jauxer. Jauxer is a long-term resident who has been at our organization since February 2011. Jauxer is a fearful dog and having our agility course allows us to introduce him to new things and help take fear out of simple things — stairs, unfamiliar surfaces, etc. — while helping enrich his stay at Humane Society of West Michigan. We are able to use the agility course to build his confidence and teach him new skills that his adopter can continue to work on with him once he is in a home environment.” Check out this video of Jauxer and pal Kelsey enjoying the agility course.
Adoptable cat Serena tries out the new perches in the cat colony.
Nicole adds: “We have also had several cats get adopted out of our cat colonies after Rescue U installed the cat perches. The cats catch the attention of adopters by climbing up and playing on the perches. Several adopters have commented that they couldn’t pass up those cats after they saw them playing or climbing on the perches!”
Thanks so much to Nicole and Humane Society of West Michigan for the update, and to the Animal Rescue Site and Groupon Grassroots donors for funding the project. We can’t wait to hear more about how the renovation is improving life — and helping find forever homes — for pets at the shelter.
Shelter dogs test out their newly-AstroTurfed dog run.
The Humane Society of West Michigan has wonderful, long, spacious dog runs. However, the runs were filled with pea gravel that was burning the dogs’ paw pads when it got hot outside. Our Rescue U volunteers fixed that.
We took out five tons of gravel and leveled out the runs to get them ready to lay down AstroTurf. Thanks to the generous support of the Animal Rescue Site, we were able to purchase recycled turf from Duke University to install in these runs (it had been used in Duke’s football stadium!).
Installing it was no easy task. The turf was rolled into 75-90 ft. rolls that weighed approximately 600 lbs. each, meaning we rolled out about 3,000 lbs. of turf in one afternoon. Once it was rolled out we had to fold it and drag it into the pens. It took six of us just to move it and place it. The edges all had to be pounded into the gravel and the seams epoxied with a nasty, sticky green goop.
All in all, redoing the dog runs was three days of hard work, but the mission was accomplished! We also put thresholds in the doorways and re-installed the fence surrounding the runs.
Thanks to the generous donors who supported our Groupon Grassroots campaign, our Rescue U volunteers are not only renovating the Humane Society of West Michigan in Grand Rapids, they’re treating the dogs there to a brand new agility course! Check out some footage of adoptable dogs Elliott and Credence (top) and Jauxer and Kelsey (middle) trying out the course, and learn more about it (bottom), in the videos above.
Here are some recent photos of Rescue U’s progress at the shelter:
Right: An adoptable dog takes the new tire tunnel for a test run. The recycled tires were donated and painted with non-slip paint to give the dogs a place to run through and jump on.
Rescue U program manager Douglas Woolsey posted this photo to the Rescue U Facebook page on Sunday, with the comment: “Making some great progress! Painting our tires now for the agility area.”
The Humane Society of West Michigan posted this photo to its Facebook page on Tuesday, with the comment: “The Petfinder Foundation’s Rescue U is busy doing great things around HSWM! Here is a photo of our Cat Holding Area being painted! In addition to that room, they have also painted our entire Admitting Area! They also created an agility course in our dog park, have put sound panels in our dog kennels (to help reduce the noise), and put turf in our outdoor dog runs! The changes are amazing and we are so grateful for all that they are doing to improve our facility!”
Local news coverage of the Rescue U build at HSWM:
August 19: VIDEO: Humane Society of West Michigan gets a facelift (WZZM-13)
August 19: BLOOPER VIDEO: During our interview about renovations to the animal shelter, one cat tried to steal the show! (WZZM-13)
Dogs like Emmet will benefit from Rescue U’s shelter renovation.
Rescue U volunteers have arrived at the Humane Society of West Michigan in Grand Rapids and begun a massive renovation project! We have a lot of work to do, and only a week to do it (the build is from Aug. 18-24). Among our projects:
Thanks to all the generous people who donated via our Groupon Grassroots campaign, we raised enough money to put in a dog agility course and play area in a space that’s currently just a big, fenced-in area. Once the course is installed, the dogs will have plenty of activities to occupy them when they go out to the yard to play.
There are some long dog runs in the back of the shelter that have a pea-gravel base that gets really hot in the summer and burns the paws of the dogs, so we are going to put AstroTurf in the dog runs, which will save paws and be much easier for the staff to clean.
Inside the shelter, the area where the dogs are housed is extremely noisy, which stresses the dogs, so we are going to install sound baffling in the kennels to stop the echo and quiet the kennel down.
We are going to add shelving to organize the shelter’s pet-food bank program, the Kibble Konnection, which helps low-income pet parents provide food for their pets.
To help prevent the spread of disease among cats, we’re installing a sanitation barrier in the cat-intake area — a sheet of plastic resembling a shower curtain that will hang between the stacks of cages so that, when cats sneeze and cough, they don’t transmit upper-respiratory infections to the cats in the cages across from them.
We’ll also be painting and organizing the reception/admitting area and the vet clinic.
This build is particularly exciting because most of the students — who come from Rescue U chapters at Central Michigan University, Grand Valley State University and Michigan State University — have never been on a Rescue U outreach trip before. Everyone is excited to take the skills they learn here back to the shelters where they volunteer regularly to improve the lives of even more pets.