2023 Protect MI Pet roundtable review

If you haven’t heard, there’s a lot of excitement building among Michigan’s animal welfare advocates. Protect MI Pet is taking it to the voters to decide if our state should have a publicly accessible, searchable database of convicted animal abusers.

And it doesn’t stop there. Right now, if pets are seized from a suspected abuser, they can sit for months or years in animal shelters, waiting to learn their fate. Will they be returned to their suspected abuser or will they be allowed to find a loving home? The justice system moves slowly, and our pets’ lives are already short.

Camp Bow Wow Hudsonville

Growing up in Fremont, Michigan, Alicia Offringa was always surrounded by dogs, cats and the occasional lizard. As the owner of Camp Bow Wow Hudsonville, she’s still surrounded, but just by dogs.

“My goal was to work in a zoo,” Alicia said. “While I was studying for a biology degree at Grand Valley State and working for the Humane Society of West Michigan, a family friend offered me the opportunity to be the manager of the new Camp Bow Wow Hudsonville. I started work there on the very day it opened 16 years ago.”

Registration now open for One Voice conference

Join us in Grand Rapids, Sept. 21-22, for an exciting opportunity to network with Michigan’s animal welfare community and to learn all about what’s new and what’s next.

We’re excited to announce two keynote speakers at this year’s conference: Dr. Marty Becker, founder of Fear Free®, and Denise Evans, diversity, equity and inclusion expert and founder of Consult Me, LLC.

Little Traverse Bay Humane Society

Some organizations live up to their guiding philosophy. Some fall short. Count Little Traverse Bay Humane Society among the ones that make their words work.

The Harbor Springs shelter was established in 1951 from what they term “humble beginnings” and now boasts a number of affiliated for-profit services, such as veterinarian services, boarding, grooming, day care and training that feed their bottom line.

Video On Demand

Michigan Pet Alliance maintains a database of training and DIY videos. Check them out online any time. Some videos are free and some are paid, but when you become a member of MPA, the entire video library becomes free to you.

Laura Witkowski

It could have been the mutt named Dougie her family had when Laura Witkowski was growing up in Clarkston. Or maybe it was Peanut, the tiny pet shop poodle who came along a few years later. More than likely, Laura says now, it was when she was a teenager and became more aware of animal welfare and the issues surrounding them that her life took a turn toward today.

Adopt-A-Pet in Fenton

At Adopt-A-Pet in Fenton, enrichment and learning are such key activities for the dogs and cats there, training sessions are as regular an activity in their lives as eating and sleeping. Every dog is given a training session every day. Adopt-A-Pet’s spacious eight-acre grounds include wading pools, four fenced play yards and an agility course. This summer, Maddock is planning an outdoor “Zen Den” with different smells and textures to provide even more enrichment.

Bob Hunt

Bob Hunt’s love of helping homeless dogs began at a young age, growing up as he did in a family whose mother set a good example.

“My mom took in strays,” Hunt said. “We pretty much always had dogs in our home.”

Such devotion to animals has continued through the generations of Hunt’s family. One of his five adult children graduated from Michigan State University School of Veterinary Medicine and is now a veterinarian in a small Georgia town.

Wendy Yax

Wendy Yax’ life is all about dogs. As a volunteer for several animal welfare organizations and as a co-owner of Paws Plus You, a fear-free dog training program, most of her time is devoted to helping dogs find and stay in loving homes.

Humane Society of Macomb

Tool & die shop owner George Fox was an animal lover who had a dream to someday build a shelter where homeless pets would be cared for and safe. In 1955, he and a group of like-minded friends bought seven-and-a-half acres of land in Shelby Township and began to raise money to fulfill that dream.

Jen Clarkson

In 2016, two outstanding animal welfare organizations, Dog Aide and Bark Nation, embarked on a collaborative effort called Project Grace, which offers free spay/neuter surgery for the dogs of Detroit through a voucher system.

In addition to spay/neuter surgery, Project Grace dogs get free pain and antibiotic medications, nail trimming, needed vaccinations and microchipping.

H.O.P.E. Animal Shelter

In Gogebic County in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, H.O.P.E. stands for Help Orphaned Pets Everywhere. That’s been the mission of the H.O.P.E. Animal Shelter since its inception in 1992.

No Kill was the philosophy of the original H.O.P.E. founders, who wrote it into the organization’s charter. The shelter has maintained a save rate of between 95 and 99% since then, making it one of the first No Kill shelters in Michigan. In 2011, the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance recognized the people of Gogebic County as one of 10 Michigan No Kill communities saving homeless cats and dogs through life-affirming programs.

Joe Sowerby

Joe Sowerby is a successful business executive, an author, a marathon runner, a former professional boxing referee, a motivational speaker and a community leader, but his first love is making a difference in the lives of thousands of homeless dogs and cats.

Sloane and Will Tillander

At just 10 years of age, the Tillander twins, Sloane and Will, are the youngest members of Michigan Pet Alliance.

When asked why they wanted to join MPA, Sloane observed that “animals deserve better than being put down because nobody wants them.”

Will added that MPA “would help shelters know how to care for animals.” They both agreed that they want to help by volunteering time and raising money for MPA.

Sloane and her mom, Liz Tillander, began to do so a couple of years ago by holding a bake sale of homemade cookies, brownies and buckeyes. As cashier, Will took in nearly $500 to donate to Detroit Dog Rescue “to help animals have a better life,” he said.

Reva Laituri, UPAWS

During Reva Laituri’s tenure, UPAWS has gone from a save rate of just 37% to saving 97% of the animals in UPAWS’ care. In 2019, a new $3.6 million state-of-the-art shelter was completed under her leadership, thanks in part to a $1.6 million bequest from UPAWS supporters Philip and Ruth Spade, for whom the new shelter is named.

Diana Newman, Eaton County Humane Society

For as long as she can remember, Diana Newman has loved animals. Growing up, cats and dogs were always a part of her home. The family lived a block off the busy main street of Bellevue, Michigan, where a parking lot and alley behind the businesses were a dumping ground for unwanted felines.

Pet Angel Cat Adoption & Rescue

Pet Angel Cat Adoption & Rescue is true to its name. Under the leadership of mother-daughter team Nancy and Abby Engel, the shelter and its volunteers are truly angels for the homeless cats of Frankenmuth.


Gina and Jim Freemon of C.H.A.I.N.E.D. INC. walk up and down, through empty lots and alleys, passing abandoned homes, looking for a dog that neighbors reported as living chained to a porch without shelter. The Freemons are working one of their December outreach events for C.H.A.I.N.E.D. in southwest Detroit.