MUSKEGON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — One of the oldest operating animal shelters in Michigan has been deemed “fiscally unreasonable” to update.
Pound Buddies‘ current building in Muskegon Township was constructed in the 1960s. With that history comes a laundry list of issues. Problems that won’t be fixed cheaply, but with the help of the community, they’re hoping it can be done.
The flooring is cracked, the roof is badly damaged causing extensive water damage throughout the building, the kennels are small, often crowded, the floor inside the kennel area is slanted causing all excrement to drain into the walkway, contaminating everything close by daily.
On top of all this, the building doesn’t have air conditioning and the plumbing backs up often.
“We describe it as putting lipstick on a pig,” Pound Buddies Animal Shelter Director Lina Carson said. “It just doesn’t work. You can only make it look so good or function so well. So, the time is now to change.”
This laundry list and more represent some of the reasons Pound Buddies will pay $2.5 million to relocate three miles down Laketon Avenue to the current Hughes Builders facility. They hope to make the move by the end of the year.
But for all their existing home lacks, it’s still better than it was and better than what the animals they care for may have been experiencing prior.
“The reality is, as sad as this is, this is a step up for these animals compared to where they came in,” Carson said. “We have animals that come in from just finding them as a stray, injured, ill, neglect cases, abandonment, so a lot of times this is a step up.”
The building was constructed in the 1960s when animal care was done differently. In those days, it was more about animal control for public safety. Dogs and cats were kept in the same cages used today for only four to seven days. If they were not claimed by then, they would be euthanized in a gas chamber.
Today, the animals are kept in the cages for much longer periods of time. Pound Buddies hopes to find each pet a home within a month’s time, some animals inevitably stay longer.
“People loved animals, but it wasn’t like it is today. For so many years we had to put our heads down in deplorable conditions. Animals were being euthanized every single week,” Carson said. “But we know the care that goes into these animals. We do the best; I know that we can all leave at the end of the day and go we are doing everything that we can for these animals. We want better for them and for our community but right now, I can sleep at night. We do everything that we possibly can for these guys.”
Each dog gets plenty of social time with other dogs, leash time, even time away from the shelter with volunteers. It’s truly the people who help that make the pound playful and enjoyable for every dog and cat that comes through their care.
“They are a hearty bunch and they love these animals as if they were their own, that’s the level of care we hope to pass along to these animals,” Carson said. “The facility is not set up really with the welfare of these animals in mind so all of that, the health, the welfare, the stress reduction falls on the backs of our protocols and our programs and the care that is spent with these animals by our staff and our volunteers.”
Even with the best volunteers and staff, a new facility is needed. Cracks in the foundation allow rodents ample access inside the pound, ravaging their food supplies and chewing plastic. The dusty, dirty outdoor play areas track soil through the building and make things impossible to clean, and without air conditioning, the building becomes a furnace when the weather starts warming up.
“We don’t have a lot of time left in this building so everybody is working hard to expedite this,” Carson said. “We would in an ideal situation if we could be in there by the end of year, that would be perfect.”
The new building represents plenty of new opportunities for staff and animals alike. That includes upgrading the 3-by-5-foot kennels to 5-by-8-foot kennels, giving the dogs much more room to live.
Online: Donate to Pound Buddies