Note from the Editor

Our February newsletter is filled with inspirational stories in addition to an article on feline declawing which has become a controversial subject. Rather than shying away from the issue, we at the HSoMC believe it is our responsibility to help educate our community about pet care topics. This outlook is consistent with part of our mission statement which is to "promote responsible pet care." In addition, we are introducing a new section called “Myth Busters” which addresses misconceptions about pets, the HSoMC and other erroneous beliefs. Finally, we are excited and proud to share that we passed the 20,000 mark with the number of placements we have made since taking over the HSoMC from Animal Control in 2011. This means that 20,000 displaced animals came through our doors with unknown futures. Instead of experiencing continued abuse, neglect or euthanasia, they left the HSoMC for safe and loving homes. The HSoMC wholeheartedly thanks our community of volunteers, staff and donors. We couldn’t do what we do without your continued support.

Animals Enriching Our Community: Zinny Gives Back

Note: The following article was written by HSoMC Board Member Sara Byrne, who is Zinny’s owner.
We don't know what dogs are capable of if they're never given a chance. I left the news industry almost a year ago and am now following my passion which is visiting hospice and memory care patients. I travel all over mid-Michigan speaking to groups and organizations about the benefits of pet therapy, using my presentation entitled, "Paws for Peace."
The story of how I rescued Zinny is a perfect example of a dog's life that was saved for a reason: to make a difference. My husband, son and I adopted Zinny from P.O.E.T. Animal Rescue in Plymouth/Canton two years ago. He and his siblings were pulled from a high-kill shelter in Ravenna, Kentucky. It broke my heart to think had they been there one more day, they would've been euthanized ... as puppies! His full name is "Zinfandel." The group of border collie/golden retriever mixes were affectionately labeled the "wine litter." "Gollies," as they're known, are fantastic family dogs. They're incredibly smart, loyal and affectionate.
As I suspected, nearly 100 applications were submitted to P.O.E.T. for each dog; our family was a top-three choice to adopt Zinny. The rescue wanted to ensure the dogs went to forever homes that had children, were active outdoors and were familiar with rescue dogs. We already had Brew at home (a shih-tzu/pekingese-mix). He was adopted from Lake Haven Animal Rescue, in Newaygo County, five years prior.
Zinny and I worked together for about six months to prepare for the Therapy Dogs International therapy dog test. I taught him all the basics and more – everything from the common, "sit," "down" and "stay" to "leave it," which is especially important in a medical setting where medications can harm the dog. We passed the test on our first try.
Zinny hanging out with his sibling, Brew, also a rescue
Zinny demonstrating his abilities at a presentation
I know Zinny is making a difference. Jamie Rhew, volunteer coordinator for The Medical Team Hospice agrees: "It is uplifting to see the joy that Zinny brings to the faces of people who often don't show much emotion."
Zinny and Sara at “work”
Zinny amazes me every single day. I can't help but think, "what if?" What if he had been euthanized and never given this chance to make an impact on the lives of so many sick, lonely and special people?
I am incredibly passionate about animal rescue, police K9's and making a difference wherever life takes me. I am excited about starting my journey on the Board of Directors with the HSoMC. To learn more about "Paws for Peace" – I can be reached at

Thursdays and Fridays Are Spay & Neuter Days at the HSoMC

Did you know that the HSoMC has visiting veterinarians that perform routine veterinary care (spay/neutering, microchipping and vaccinations) to our animals and the pets of qualified Midland residents? Having an on-site veterinarian is extremely beneficial since it avoids transportation which can be stressful for the animals. Plus, this saves the HSoMC money and time. Additionally, it helps our community by keeping existing pets healthy and in their homes. Below are some photos of our “patients” before and after surgery.
If you would like more information about the veterinary services offered at the HSoMC, please visit our website at

Why the HSoMC Does Not Support Cat Declawing

The HSoMC recently posted information on Facebook about a pending Michigan bill related to feline declawing and asked readers to support that bill. The post generated a vigorous discussion among readers as well as at our board level. What we discovered during the discussion is that there are still some misconceptions regarding what was once considered an accepted and recommended procedure and is now banned in multiple states as well as many countries including England, Australia, Germany, Finland and Brazil. In recent years, the HSoMC has seen many cats who were surrendered due to negative behaviors, including aggression and not using their litter box due to pain from prior declawing. Once these surrendered pets received corrective surgery (which is extremely expensive), these cats had a 180-degree personality change. No longer in pain, they are now loving pets in their adoptive homes. This includes Princess, now named Uma, who is featured below in the Getting the Lives They Deserve section. Further adding to the controversy, there are many cat owners who have had their cats declawed without apparent issue. The purpose of this article is to communicate the current thinking regarding declawing and to offer alternatives. Additionally, we are updating our website on this issue, as well as providing information on options for cat owners who have had their cats declawed and are now experiencing issues.
As stated above, the Humane Society of Midland County does not support feline declawing. This position is consistent with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and The American Association of Feline Practitioners, all of which advise against declawing. The AVMA states: “Scratching is a normal behavior of cats. It conditions the claws, serves as a visual and scent territorial marker, allows the cat to defend itself, and provides healthy muscle engagement through stretching.” Many people are not aware but declawing involves surgical removal of the first joint of each toe. The following is an excerpt from the HSUS:
“Too often, people think that declawing is a simple surgery that removes a cat's nails –the equivalent of having your fingernails trimmed. Sadly, this is far from the truth. Declawing traditionally involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe. If performed on a human being, it would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle. It is an unnecessary surgery that provides no medical benefit to the cat. Educated pet parents can easily train their cats to use their claws in a manner that allows everyone in the household to live together happily. Declawing your cat can cause a number of health and behavioral concerns including not using the litter box, pain and severe arthritis in the feet and aggressive behavior.” For the full article, visit: 
Although some believe that using laser surgery is acceptable, it still involves removal of the last bone, and we have seen cats with severe burns as a result. Many veterinarians will no longer perform declawing, and it is important to note that sometimes issues do not appear for many years after the procedure, so owners do not connect their cat’s aggression or litter box issues with the initial declawing. 
Fortunately, as we become better educated on this subject, there are multiple options and resources to keep your cat from destroying your home or apartment! If you have a cat that is scratching, please consider the alternatives as recommended by the AVMA below:
  • Providing appropriate scratching surfaces, such as dedicated posts and boards that are tall enough to encourage full stretching. What constitutes an attractive surface or location varies by cat, so don't be afraid to get creative!
  • Scenting with catnip may help, too.
  • Frequent nail trims – every 1 to 2 weeks
  • Nail caps – replaced every 4 to 6 weeks
  • Positive reinforcement training, beginning with kitten kindergarten if available
  • Pheromone sprays and/or plug-ins
  • Discourage use of inappropriate surfaces by attaching sticky tape or tinfoil

Remember, punishment is not an effective deterrent to scratching. Please Google “Alternatives to Declawing” or contact your veterinarian for more information on this very important topic.
UPDATE: As this newsletter was going to publication, the HSoMC received a seven-month-old kitten that was found with four infected and mangled paws. Fortunately, a good Samaritan brought her to M20 Animal Hospital and into our care. The claws on all four paws had been removed and were infected. The surgeon removed dead bone fragments and only one toe on her back paw could be saved. Now named “Tootsie,” she will receive proper medical care. However, it will be a long and expensive recovery. If you would like to help us help Tootsie, please donate on our website, in person or directly to M20 Animal Hospital under the HSoMC account.
Tootsie recovering from surgery

Adoptable Pet of the Month: Roxanne

Sweet Roxanne is a 10-year-old spayed female boxer/bully mix who found herself at the HSoMC through no fault of her own when her owner moved. She is housebroken and good with other pets. She asks for very little and would be perfect for an adopter looking for a low maintenance pet. If you are interested in providing Roxanne with the love she deserves in her senior years, please submit an application at Note that she is currently not at the shelter but her foster family will arrange a meeting.

Getting the Lives They Deserve: Patience Pays Off and Princess (Uma) Gets a Perfect Ending

You may recall Princess (now Uma) from an earlier article. She arrived at the HSoMC last April with severe aggression and litter box aversion. Her prior owners dealt with her “issues” by putting her outside ... in the Michigan winter. By the time she arrived at the HSoMC, she was in bad shape: emaciated, crippled and frostbitten. Once at the HSoMC, shelter director Beth Wellman quickly discovered that Princess/Uma was in severe pain from front declaw surgery and this was the cause of her behavioral issues. The HSoMC raised funds for a proper evaluation and then corrective surgery after which she recuperated in foster care until she was ready for adoption.
Meanwhile, Megan had come to the HSoMC after reading about another cat who was experiencing issues due to pain from being declawed. Megan, a cat lover, had recently lost her feline friend, Karen, who had died the previous summer. Megan then saw Princess/Uma, who was clearly unhappy in her cage.
Admittedly, the bond wasn’t immediate, but Megan wanted to help, so she brought Princess/Uma home to her family and a six-year-old canine sibling. Princess/Uma immediately went upstairs and camped out with her son, Matthew, who renamed her Uma. They set up house for her in an upstairs office, and for the first month she rarely came downstairs to visit. Although her physical wounds had healed, she needed time to adjust emotionally.
Princess/Uma with her "angry" face
Megan provided Princess/Uma with a secure space in her home office
Megan and her family gave Princess/Uma her space so she could become comfortable in her new surroundings. Whenever they saw Princess/Uma, they would say “hi.” Princess/Uma didn't really meow, but she always responded with a goofy squeak. The “conversations” continued and they knew they were making progress since Princess/Uma always had the last word!
Princess/Uma hanging out on the sofa after she knew she was home for good
Princess/Uma taking a nap on Megan's lap
Patience paid off and around Christmas, Princess/Uma began snuggling with Megan in the evening. Since then, Princess/Uma has developed a nice routine of greeting the family at the kitchen table during their morning coffee, getting a drink from the faucet while Megan brushes her teeth, sleeping in Matthew's room during the day, and hanging and talking with the family in the evening. She has even started sleeping with Megan at night. Importantly, Princess/Uma seems to have completely recovered from her surgeries and has no physical limitations or issues with her litter box.
Megan states Princess’s/Uma's transformation has been amazing. “Slowly but surely she is making her own place here. The HSoMC does great work helping these animals. Given a chance, even the grumpiest of cats can be wonderful family members.” Princess's/Uma's journey is remarkable and inspiring. Throughout the past year, she has transformed from a ragged and angry “throwaway” into a loving and loved family pet. This is due to the generosity of our community, the dedicated staff at the HSoMC, and the willingness of Megan and her family to provide her with patience and security so Princess/Uma can get the life she deserves. THANK YOU!

Myth Busters: Helping Dogs from Other Shelters Does NOT Impact Local Dogs

If you follow the HSoMC, you know that we take dogs from other Michigan shelters, and from as far away as Texas, Lebanon and South Korea. Unfortunately, we have occasionally been criticized for this because of the erroneous belief that it negatively impacts our ability to serve animals locally. We have never turned away a local dog because of overcapacity. In fact, helping other shelters has the following benefits: 
  • Once at the HSoMC, dogs are generally adopted within one week. Some of the dogs from other shelters have been waiting in shelters for more than six months.
  • The transferring shelter is able to avoid euthanizing these dogs if at capacity.
  • Taking dogs from overcrowded shelters creates additional capacity at those shelters for other displaced dogs. 
  • Dogs from outside of U.S. are actually less expensive than U.S. dogs, since they must be immunized prior to entry to the U.S.
  • Adoption fees are our major source of operational revenue which is important since we receive no dedicated governmental support.
Finally, if you read about the HSoMC taking in animals from outside of Midland County, please know and share that it benefits both our local animals in addition to animals at the originating shelters.
The dogs pictured below were all adopted within 24 hours of arriving at the HSoMC from Lebanon.
This photo shows a Humane Society of the United States worker in the deplorable conditions of dogs that were used in the South Korean meat market. The HSoMC took five of those dogs, and they were all adopted shortly thereafter.

Security System Successfully Installed

We are very pleased to announce that we have updated our security system with state-of-the-art security cameras and exterior lights. In the past, we have had animals left outside of regular business hours which is both dangerous and illegal. We appreciate the help from Blasy Electric, Inc., who installed the new system and donated a new “Exit” sign with emergency lights as well.
REMINDER: People know that animals who are left with the HSoMC will be well cared for, but it is illegal to leave them after hours. Below is some helpful information.
1. You can report stray animals or animal abuse by calling any of the following numbers:
  • Midland Police Department: 989-839-6466 or 911
  • Midland County Animal Control: 989-832-6856 
2. If you are surrendering your own pet, do it during regular business hours. We are sympathetic and will work with you.
3. If you find a stray, you can call the numbers above or bring it to the HSoMC during regular business hours. After hours, DO NOT JUST LEAVE IT AT THE SHELTER.
4. If you see animal abuse by others, report it!
We are here to help our community and the animals that live here. 

Non-Profits Helping Other Non-Profits: Habitat for Humanity Helps the HSoMC

For anyone who has been to the HSoMC, you know that our beloved buildings are sturdy but aging. Although we have a phenomenal group of animal-centric volunteers, we were in dire need of volunteers with construction expertise. That’s when Midland County Habitat for Humanity answered our call. Using gently used cabinets that we had salvaged from another location, Eric Ostrander, Bill Schram and Phil Baker from Habitat for Humanity were able to retrofit our surgery area and installed a new countertop and cabinets. This will enable our surgical staff and volunteers to operate in a more efficient manner. Thank you to Habitat and the dedicated volunteers for their time and expertise!
“Before” and “after” photos show the larger sink and additional cabinet space both above and below the countertop.

Monthly Highlights

Brody wanted to help a dog for his birthday, so he sponsored Kong’s adoption fee. Way to go, Brody!
Instead of Valentine’s gifts, Kaitlyn and Derek, parents of two former HSoMC feline alumni, donated to the HSoMC. What a wonderful demonstration of giving back ... THANK YOU!
We were happily surprised when Tyler and Joe from Nature’s Gift Organic Market came to visit with all of these natural foods and treats. Thank you for your generosity!

Upcoming Events

The HSoMC has quite a year planned so far. Please save the dates on all of our confirmed events below.
Pints for Paws – St. Patty’s Style
Monday, March 16
5-8 p.m.
Buffalo Wild Wings, Midland 
Buffalo Wild Wings is donating 20% of their profits all day long to the HSoMC on March 16. Don’t miss the evening event of great food, great drinks, and a great cause, including bagpipers at 7 p.m.! For a $12 donation, you will receive an HSoMC pint glass, and your first drink is on us. 
Mid-Michigan Pet Expo
Sunday, April 26
Midland County Fairgrounds
10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Join us for the eighth annual MidMichigan Pet Expo! This free event features Lou E. Loon, the HSoMC mascot (Barkley), a pet photo booth, refreshments and more! Bring your family, friends and well-behaved dogs for a pawesome good time! 
Auction and Garage Sale to Benefit the HSoMC
Sunday, May 17
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
While clearing out your house this spring, please consider donating your items to the HSoMC's auction. We can store your household goods, toys, furniture, sporting goods, tools and more (no clothes please). Drop off items during our business hours, please. Contact Erica at for more information. The garage sale will take place in our storage pole barns across the street from the HSoMC. 
Save the Date for These Events
More information coming soon
Cats on Yoga Mats
Friday, June 5
6-7 p.m.
Ashman Lofts
Pints for Paws
June 2020
Midland Brewing Co.
Pet Mini Photo Session
June 2020
Ties & Tails Gala
Friday, October 16
7 p.m.
The Midland Country Club
To get more information, suggest an event, or become an event volunteer, please email Erica at
Thank you to all of our Ties and Tails Gala sponsors and supporters including our partnership level sponsors below.
Melanie Kalmar &
James Cordes
James Fitterling &
Alex Lee

Thank You

Thank you to our donors, members, volunteers and staff! And a special thanks to Midland Neighbors for featuring the HSoMC in their monthly issues.
Photography by Deb Lambesis and Lisa Weldy.
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Adoption Hours: Monday-Friday 12-7 p.m. & Saturday 11 a.m.-4 p.m. 
Intake Hours (By Appointment Only): Monday-Friday 12-6 p.m. & Saturday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.