After 20 years of service to the County, Pound Buddies may be asked to step aside. Pound Buddies began in 1998, after founder, Connie Karry, learned about the desperate need for better care and treatment for the animals that were being housed at the local animal shelter. Karry stated “no one would have ever thought it at the time, but that one decision (to get involved) would saves the lives of thousands of animals!”
Since 1998, Pound Buddies has evolved from a small group of volunteers, to hundreds of volunteers, and thousands of supporters throughout Muskegon County. “Pets add to our quality of life,” stated Lana Carson, Executive Director of Pound Buddies. She went on to state, “we are a community of pet lovers and people who care about shelter animals as much as their own pets. There is a natural love for these animals because most have been through so much, they deserve a second chance.”
In 2010, for the first time, Muskegon County placed animal shelter operations up for bid, as a cost saving measure. Karry stated, “we feared what this would possibly mean for the care of the animals, as well as the progress that we had made over the years.” Pound Buddies decided to submit a bid to operate the Shelter and was awarded a five-year contract in the amount of $88k per year. Prior to Pound Buddies, the county’s budget to operate the Shelter exceeded $500k per year. During their five-year contract, Pound Buddies saved the County over $2m.
In 2015, animal shelter services once again went up for bid. Karry stated “this time, we had a far greater understanding of the financial requirements needed to operate a shelter of this volume.” Pound Buddies was awarded another service contract for three years, with incremental increases starting at $140k in 2016, $190k in 2017, and $235k in 2018. Pound Buddies continued through the threeyear contract to improve shelter services, adoption rates, community outreach and innovative programming enhancing the human/animal bond. During this three-year contract, Pound Buddies saved the County over $935k.
Other animal shelters from around the state, with comparable dog intake numbers, range from $755k – $2.3m per year. Pound Buddies also takes in cats but Muskegon County does not provide any funding for the care of cats.
Board of Directors
Lynn Jazdzyk, Chair Territory Manager, Nobel Biocare
Cathy Brubaker-Clarke, Vice Chair Business Development Specialist, Muskegon Area First
Connie Karry, Treasurer Retired – Controller, Cameron Dyna-Torque
Amy Rollston, Secretary Director of Human Resources, Kent County
Jake Eckhohlm City Manager, Muskegon Heights
John Karafa Attorney, Williams Hughes PLLC
Tony Laskowicz Owner, 1st Assured Bail Bonds
Lana Carson Executive Director
“The greatness of a society and its moral progress can be judged by the way it treats its animals.” —Mahatma Gandhi
In the final year of the contract, a “State of the Shelter” report was presented to Muskegon County Commissioners by Pound Buddies to address the on-going concerns about the poor condition and disrepair of the building. “When it rains or the snow melts, animals and the people working in the animal housing areas are getting wet. Water comes right through the roof” stated Carson. The building is owned by the Township and is leased to the County. According to a Township inspection report, the roof must be repaired with additional significant repairs needed throughout the building. Carson also went on to describe the extreme heat and cold conditions that the animals are subjected to, due to inadequate HVAC systems, and regular floor and kennel drain back-ups, which dumps into the dog kennels.
“The State of the Shelter presentation was an attempt to propose a possible solution to the building problems and budget constraints,” Carson stated. She went on to state, “we were not asking for more money, rather, we were asking Commissioners to entertain the idea of a long-term contract. This would allow our organization to implement a capital campaign to fund a new building, or the renovation of an existing building, through donations.”
Karry stated, “What should have been a normal bidding process this year, turned into a call for concern that was validated last week by a County Commissioner’s public post.” The post Karry referred to stated, “the tide was to get rid of them at the end of their contract because of all the complaints.”
The new bid from the County dictates how long a dog can be held at the Shelter (4-7 days) and does not provide for dogs brought in by good Samaritans which totaled 49% of the total intake in 2017. Karry stated “the majority of costs for each dog are incurred in the first few days due to immunizations, injuries, medical care, flea infestation, etc. The cost for the remainder of their stay is minimal.”
Regarding the possible change in Shelter operations, Karry stated “our major concern is that humane and proper care continue to be provided for the homeless, unwanted and lost animals in our community.” She went on to say that Pound Buddies would be happy to step aside if another organization could provide the same level of care and services that are currently being provided. Some of the current services provided by Pound Buddies 7 days per week, 365 days per year, with operating hours of 8am – 8pm include:
– Daily animal care
– 911 emergency calls
– Medical care
– Outdoor exercise 4 times per day
– Socialization & temperament testing programs
– Spay & neuter programs (through grants)
– Abuse and neglect cases
– Hoarding cases
– Dog fighting
– Animal control (pick up of stray and injured animals)
Contacts: Connie Karry – Founder, 231-767-0921
Lynn Jazdzyk – Chair, 616-551-8157