1300 W. Conway Rd. Harbor Springs, MI 49740  231-347-2396

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deter blog1October 1, 1999. My first day on the job as Executive Director of Little Traverse Bay Humane Society. The shelter was located at the old facility on U.S. 131 in Petoskey, the location that served the organization since 1951. As many of you remember, the building epitomized the era of animal welfare with no windows for ventilation or sunlight; cold, concrete floors; and inadequate space for animals who came through the door. I remember walking in and looking at all the animals and saying, “well, we’re NOT staying here.”

Although the years have blurred together, the first day sticks out almost hour-by-hour. I was told to be at the shelter at 8:30 because that is when the existing ED got to work and could start my training. I thought to myself, “8:30? Who is there letting the dogs out and starting the cleaning procedure? What about the cats? Is there anyone to start feeding and medicating them?” It seemed awfully late in the morning to start taking care of animals.

The first thing I noticed was that it did not matter because there was no cleaning schedule. At the time, I had no experience in the world of nonprofits, but I knew how to take care of animals, so I started at the bottom. Every morning I arrived at work at 7:30 (and I still do today!) and started cleaning all of the animal enclosures. I did not have the awesome staff that I have today, most mornings it was just me. Despite the chaos that I walked into, I found a level of peace deep cleaning and caring for the shelter animals. Ironically, it is that calmness and peacefulness that has kept me here for all of these years.

During the first year, I could not tell you how many calls I received from disgruntled donors who had not received acknowledgements, frustrated members of the community who were trying to surrender their animals-from years past, and members of the organization who were disappointed in the facility and the lack of care the shelter animals had been receiving. I will not lie when I say that every time the phone rang, my heart sank. I just could not keep up with all the fires I had to put out.

As with every tough period in life, things began to improve. The initial changes that I made, although they seemed small at the time, made a world of difference in the lives of the shelter animals. Looking back, I am thankful that LTBHS was a small organization. It gave me the chance to grow with it and learn all aspects of running a nonprofit, no kill animal shelter. As I look at our campus today, all I can think is that we have come a long way baby.

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DSC 0543At Little Traverse Bay Humane Society, we take in dogs of all ages, backgrounds and temperaments. Of course, this naturally means that some of our dogs are cute, wiggly puppies and others are older animals (who still make wonderful pets!) that may benefit from some good manners.

Fortunately, we have our Mutts With Manners Training Program to help with that. Our Mutts With Manners Program starts shortly after an animal arrives at LTBHS. They are evaluated and temperament tested to see if there are any issues that need to be addressed. Once their behavioral needs are assessed, LTBHS staff works with them to develop a training plan just for them!

This program has made an incredible impact on our shelter animals! Three year old Walker, for instance, has made great strides during his time in the program. Walker is a longtime shelter resident due to some specific needs (no cats, he is a bit choosy about his canine playmates and should go to a home with older children). He also has issues with guarding his toys and food, and is reactive to other dogs, all of which have been the focus of his training.

Staff have worked with Walker since he arrived and he has made great progress! He’s become a lot less reactive of other dogs and has even begun to make some friends while here. At first, we believed that Walker should be the only dog in the home, but since he has done so well with his training, we think that he may be able to go to a home with another dog (if the match is right). He’s also made a lot of progress in regard to guarding toys, treats and other items.

We are so proud of Walker and how far he’s come since his arrival at LTBHS and we know he’ll make a great addition to someone’s family! We are thankful that our Mutts With Manners Program has, and continues to, make such a difference at our shelter. It has meant lower return rates and in turn, more space at our shelter to rescue more animals, win-win!

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32472017 2451898364836030 4482117661244784640 nWe recently received 10 cats from Chippewa County in the Upper Peninsula who were pulled from an extreme hoarding/over-breeding situation.  These poor babies were living in absolutely awful, unsanitary conditions and were malnourished and dirty when they arrived.  They had been previously living in tiny, wire cages with limited room to move around and no proper bed, litter box, good food or clean water. 
 
There were over 30 cats pulled from the situation and taken to Chippewa County Animal Shelter.  The staff knew they didn’t have the resources to handle that many felines all at once, which prompted them to reach out to other local rescues, including Little Traverse Bay Humane Society. We ended up taking in 10 of the displaced cats, including two mommas, heavily pregnant.
 
It’s devastating and heartbreaking to think of any animal living in conditions such as this. Thankfully, however, these sweet kitties are free of the bad situation they came from and are now safe and sound at the shelter until they find new homes of their own.ed4

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Adoption Sadie and Frank PlumeIt’s been a great past week at Little Traverse Bay Humane Society! We are so thrilled to be open once again and helping our shelter residents find their forever homes. And what’s even better is that many of them did find new families in the week that we’ve been back open!

In particular, many of our long-term shelter residents found new homes, which is very exciting! Some of the cats that have been here awhile, such as Arlington, Gaines and Chewi, all found great homes, which we are cheering about!

Some of our long-term dogs also found homes, such as Bastion, Sadie (pictured left with new owner, Frank Plume) and sweet, shy Tyler!! We are so very happy for all of them and wish them the very best in their new lives.

We still have so many wonderful dogs and cats that are hoping to find new homes. We are hopeful now that we’re open, interested individuals will take the opportunity to stop by and get to know some of them better!

We’d like to thank all of our wonderful supporters for their continuous kind words and encouragement in the past couple of months. We are excited to move forward in helping our shelter residents find new homes and offering second chances to those who need it most! We are thankful for a caring community that supports this goal!

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deter bertiesmallAs an animal lover, we all know that it is never easy to lose our four legged friends. No matter how much we prepare ourselves that they will not live forever, when they go, there is little comfort. I experienced that myself on January 1, 2018 with my beloved Bulldog, Bertie.

Although I have owned dogs my whole life, my bond with Bertie was as deep as possible. She was my ‘daughter’ in every sense of the word. Since her death, I have struggled to find a new normal and the waves of grief I have experienced have been extremely hard to manage. I just miss her.

She came into my life on July 5, 2005, and from her first butt wiggle and kiss, we were inseparable. And as most of you know, Bertie came to work with me every day. She was so much of a part of the thread of my workday as well as those who came to visit the humane society. I won’t say she was patient, but she did tolerate the many times she was dressed up by us as we celebrated holidays and birthdays.

I was lucky enough to have her for almost 13 years, and every day with her was a gift. Her outlook on life was so infectious that I gave her the motto of ‘every day is her birthday’. Sadly, her health had started to deteriorate over the past four months, and although I wasn’t surprised, I did everything possible to prolong her life and my time with her. While on vacation in Florida, she started to act strange, and I could tell something was wrong. I took her to the veterinarian and they hospitalized her overnight. When I arrived at the clinic the next morning, Bertie was unable to walk and it was determined that her body was shutting down. I truly believe that she held out for me until I could be with her. I was there with her at the end, and my heart will be with her forever.

The only ounce of comfort I have had since January 1 is the support from our animal loving community. The words of encouragement and compassion have kept me afloat. I can’t thank everyone enough for helping me through my grief.