family focus >> pet lovers
No-kill shelter won't give up on any animal.
Allan P. Adler
I Special to the Jewish News
hiskey Joe is as an ador-
able, smart and loving basset
But that's not how he was when he came
to live with Lori Kitchen of Farmington
Hills. Whiskey was severely abused. He
was kicked so many times he lost an eye,
was 20 pounds underweight and had
chronic ear problems.
Meanwhile, Abbey was just an adorable
pure-bred mutt when she was adopted by
Marianne Gard of Bloomfield Hills. And
Olive, who just came to live with Donna
Rosenberg of Bloomfield Hills this past
December, has a great temperament.
The three dogs have vastly different
personalities but one thing in common;
they are alive thanks to Almost Home, a
Southfield-based rescue shelter that refus-
es to euthanize any animal.
Every dog and cat that arrives at the
shelter is given medical treatment and
then placed in a caring home. Sometimes
the animals are adopted directly from the
shelter and sometimes they live with foster
Almost Home was started in 2001 by Gail
Montgomery Schwartz and her daughter,
Lauren Anchill, both of West Bloomfield
"We used to volunteer with animal orga-
nizations, but we felt disheartened with their
euthanasia policies:' Schwartz says. "I think
Gail Schwartz and her daughter Lauren Anchill of Almost Home drove hundreds of
miles to rescue Whiskey Joe.
you're taking a life and ifs not really the ani-
After five years of working out of their
home, Schwartz and her daughter found
a dog pound on Clara Lane that had been
vacant for 15 years. Almost Home, a non-
profit, worked out a lease deal with the city
for $1 a year.
Today, Almost Home has 55 volunteers,
five full-time and three part-time staffers.
More than 5,000 animals have been rescued.
While the lease agreement with
Southfield is reasonable, operating the
shelter is expensive.
Schwartz says Almost Home spends about
$100,000 a year on medical care. She and
her husband, Leonard, an attorney and
affiliated with Temple Israel, have spent
$200,000 of their own funds.
The shelter has no contracted veterinar-
ian services. Each new dog owner pays a
$200 to $300 fee that covers neutering and
shots but that usually doesn't cover the
total cost of medical care. Some animals,
Schwartz notes, have expenses as high
as $5,000. Donations and special fund-
raisers finance Almost Home.
Amy Berman, 33, of Novi, is on the
shelter's fundraising committee and has
been volunteering for the past seven
years. She says a major fundraiser is the
annual Pet Calendar.
Now in its fourth year, last year brought
in about $7,000 and efforts are under way
for the 2014 calendar. Owners pay $15 per
photo to enter the contest and have their
pet appear in the calendar. The first dead-
line is June 15. After that, entries cost $20
with the final deadline this year Aug. 16.
One pet is named for each of the
months of the year and a grand prize
winner is chosen for the cover. All of the
pet entries appear in a collage. The entry
fees don't include the cost of the calendar,
which is $20.
Also this year, Almost Home is planning a
Rescue Me Gala Sept. 21 dinner-dance where
they hope to net $15,000.
To donate or find out more about the
fundraisers, write to Almost Home, P.O. Box
250602, West Bloomfield, MI 48325 or go
online to www.almosthomeanimals.org .
To reinforce its no-kill philosophy,
Almost Home has its adopting owners sign
"We always take our dogs and cats
back:' Schwartz says. "In the contract,
adopting owners can't give away or eutha-
nize the animal:'
Having a pet is a life-altering experience,
but for Kitchen and her husband, Ken,
Whiskey Joe has inspired a profound lifestyle
change — they have become vegetarians.
"If all animals can survive, love, trust
and forgive like Whiskey:' says Kitchen,
"how can we kill and eat any of them?"
Dogs And New Babies
Tips to help prepare your dog for the arrival of a new baby.
f you are expecting a baby and you
have a dog, it's never too early to
start preparing your dog for the day
you bring home the new family member.
A dog may feel rejected and become
confused or stressed when parents sud-
denly shift their attention from dog to
baby. A dog doesn't understand why a
baby is being elevated above it in the
household's social structure. In trying
to regain his position, the dog may seek
attention through unwanted behaviors
such as barking at the baby's cries, jump-
ing up or chewing on baby's things.
Here are a few tips to help reduce your
dog's bad behavior, ease the household's
stress and help keep baby safe.
• Prepare your dog for baby's arrival.
Accustom your dog to the new sights
and smells he will soon encounter. An
easy way to do this: Get an inexpensive
doll that makes baby sounds, wrap it in
a blanket and hold it in your arms as
fed or played with.
you walk around the house. Apply to the
• Make safe introductions. When
doll the same baby products (powder,
your dog meets the new arrival for the
shampoo, lotion) that you will use on
first time, he will need to "touch scent"
the baby. When the baby has
the baby to find out what it
been born, bring home the
is. While another adult con-
newborn's blanket prior to the
trols the dog on a loosely held
baby's homecoming to allow
leash, hold your newborn up
your dog to become accus-
high and let your dog sniff the
tomed to the scent of the new-
baby's bottom or feet. If the
est member of the family.
dog misbehaves or is too exu-
• Set new rules before baby
berant, correct his behavior.
arrives. For example, if you
• Allow frequent, super-
choose to keep your dog out of
vised visits by your dog. The
the baby's room, start this new
more the dog and baby are
rule weeks or even months
together, the better behaved
before the baby arrives. This
and less stressed your dog
way, your dog will not associ-
will be. However, never leave
ate baby's arrival with exclu-
a baby, toddler or child unat-
sion from the room. In addition, start an
tended in the same room with any dog.
erratic household schedule so the dog
• Teach your dog the difference
does not know when he will get walked,
between his things and your child's
things. If — and only if — you catch
your dog chewing on something inap-
propriate, interrupt the behavior, then
give the dog an acceptable chew toy and
praise him lavishly when he takes it in
Dogs can be possessive about their
food, toys and space. Although this is
normal, it is never acceptable for a dog
to growl or snap at you or your child. At
the same time, children need to learn
to respect every dog as a living creature
that is not to be teased or purposefully
hurt, and that needs time to itself. If
your dog is growling or snapping at your
child for any reason, the situation needs
Lisa Lieberman and her husband, John, are
dog behavioral therapists and trainers with
Bark Busters Home Dog Training, the world's
largest dog training company.
April 18 • 2013