Search Results for: Outside the Box Award Winners

Outside the Box Award Winners

 Michigan Pet Fund Alliance and the Humane Society of Macomb Foundation created the Outside the Box Award Program for Michigan shelters or 501(c)(3) home-based rescue organizations to recognize programs or procedures that are unique or exemplary that another shelter or rescue can easily replicate by just taking it “out of the box” and tweaking for their needs.

MPFA and Macomb Foundation board members scored each entry for “Creative”, “Effective”, “Transferable”, and “Life Saving”. Four winners were selected. Each winner will receive a plaque and a $1,000 cash award and will present their awarded program/project/document at the next Getting to the Goal conference in fall 2018.

Congratulations to the four winners:

Genesee County Animal Control: Volunteer Training Program

The GCAC volunteer training program is designed to set up new volunteers for success and to offer ongoing training for the entire volunteer force. This program is for hands-on volunteers who are walking, socializing, and training dogs. It is a multi-tiered color-coded system of training checklists, classes, and experience. There are four levels offered and each can be achieved at the volunteer’s own desire and pace. A professional trainer conducts seven different classes onsite, free of charge. Levels are designed to meet the different behavioral needs of the dogs and to keep volunteers safe during the process.

Gratiot Animals in Need, aka G.A.I.N.: GAIN-Companions

This pet retention and adoption outreach program was established to help pet owners and caretakers of colonies in an effort to reduce owner surrenders to animal control. One component of the program focuses on promoting adoption by residents in facilities for aging and disabled adults. Support of seniors with pets includes transportation to vet appointments and help with cost of medications. Another component is a pet food bank open five days a week for low-income pet owners. Collaborations includes funding from Gratiot County Foundation for seed money, donations from Petsmart and Redbird for the food bank, and promotional materials designed by Alma College drafting department.

Humane Society of Livingston County: Packs & Pounces Enrichment Program

Humane Society of Livingston County (HSLC) has a creedo “What is in the best interest of the animals we serve?” and call themselves a “Quality of Life Shelter”. They know they cannot save the world, but can change the world of the dogs and cats that cross their threshold. They have built into each animal’s daily “care plan” purposeful attention to their mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Although HSLC is organized, clean, happy, loving place, it is not a home. The animals’ lives are turned upside down and HSLC staff owes it to them to offer a sense of sanity, comfort and stability.

To that end, HSLC developed Packs and Pounces Enrichment Program. Adoptive canine and feline population of the shelter are divided into groups of 3 or 4. Dog groupings are “packs”; cat groupings are “pounces”. One pack and pounce are assigned to a specific kennel attendant for the day. A daily checklist of quality time spent on each animal is maintained with the goal of keeping the animals’ lives as interesting and stimulating as possible. Activities may consist of long leash walks, quiet time in the “real life room”, interactive time in play yard, reading time, car rides, sleepover reprieves from the shelter, full body brushing or bath, edible enrichment toys, meals in different presentation such as brown bag, muffin tin, etc.

The Packs and Pounces Enrichment Program benefits from the expertise and guidance of a force-free positive trainer who assesses the canines and assigns “homework” for the kennel staff to accomplish with their Pounce of Pack during the week. She provides training guidance, QR codes for applicable online training videos, tools, and equipment selected for dog’s specific needs and assists both kennel staff and dog walking volunteers.

HSLC’s enrichment program saves lives by making dogs and cats happier, healthier, and ultimately more adoptable.

Humane Society of West Michigan: Outpatient Heartworm Treatment

Humane Society of West Michigan (HSWM) utilizes outpatient heartworm treatment plans for adopted animals in order to reduce their time spent in the fast paced shelter environment. HSWM has treated over 100 cases of heartworm disease in 2017 and has been able to perfect protocols for providing quality treatment in a stress-free environment. HSWM follows the American Heartworm Society guidelines for heartworm treatment. They begin with initial blood work and 28 days of Doxycycline, followed by the initial adulticide treatment. They then follow with 28 days of Prednisone, the second and final adulticide injections, and another 28 days of Prednisone. Adopters are educated on the importance of exercise restrictions and staff is available to answer any questions that may arise seven days a week. Currently, many shelters require that heartworm positive animals receive their treatment prior to even being placed up for adoption. This practice provides at least two negative influences on animals in shelters. First, if the shelter is following the recommended guidelines of the American Heartworm Society, the dog will remain in the shelter for at least 2-3 months awaiting treatment. Whether it be in a kennel or in the ever coveted foster home, this is space that can be better utilized for other animals in need (medically or behaviorally). Second, it is vital for animals undergoing heartworm treatment to remain calm and quiet to reduce complications. Heartworm positive dogs that are released are able to begin bonding with their new family in an environment that is conducive to their medical needs. This ensures the best possible outcome for their pending treatment.

The other entries include:

Bay County Animal Control and Shelter: Best Practices Plan

Under the leadership of Bay County Executive Jim Barcia, Bay County initiated efforts to establish Best Practices at the Bay County Animal Control & Shelter.  Meeting monthly for six months, a committee of rescue and shelter volunteers along with shelter and animal control staff developed a plan for change which included updating the county ordinance, new protocols, new programs, physical changes, additional staffing, budget implications and a timeline.  The goal is to move the shelter toward No Kill status.

Canine Companions Rescue Center: Paws Project

Paws Project is a community outreach program assisting Clarkston and nearby area residents who need help caring for their dogs. It includes spay/neuter, assistance with food and vaccinations/deworming, etc. There is also an education component where CCRC volunteers speak to the public, such as “Be a Tree” school presentations on basic dog behavior and body language for dog bite prevention.

Cherryland Humane Society: Donor Dogs

Cherryland Humane Society (CHS) raises money year round in their community using dog shaped coin banks in local businesses. They partnered with Blackbird Arts Studio and held events for the community to help paint new dog banks, which are now called “donor dogs”. In 2017, over 200 dogs have been placed in local businesses raising over $9,000 for the organization’s other programs which are instrumental in maintaining their No Kill status.

Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit: Fix a Feline

Fix a Feline is a low cost sterilization program for owned and community cats. The shelter offers vouchers to the public for a fee of $20.00. The voucher covers the cost of the spay or neuter surgery and core vaccines if needed (CVR-CP, Rabies). A microchip can be added for an additional fee of $5.00. The shelter partners with area veterinary clinics to perform the surgery. Each clinic determines the number of surgeries they will do monthly. The shelter produces vouchers for each clinic, specific to the agreed number. Voucher holders contact the clinic on the voucher to schedule the procedure within the month of purchase. The shelter provides the vaccine, microchips, and pays the clinic $35.00 for each surgery performed. Clinics provide an accounting of sterilizations to the shelter on a monthly basis for payment.

Furever Tails Animal Rescue: Essential Caring with Oils

Furever Tails Animal Rescue is integrating essential oils into standard practices in rescue. With training from various sources, they have learned that many natural oils can help with various important aspects of saving lives.  From sanitizing to cleaning to calming and alleviating stress, essential oils can assist in many day-to-day functions in rescue.

Harbor Humane Society: Frisky Felines

Harbor Humane Society (HHS) holds the municipal contract for Ottawa County and takes in over 1200 stray cats each year. The county animal control officers and concerned citizens pick up stray cats to drop off at the HHS facility. The county would not allow SNR programs, which resulted HHS euthanizing hundreds of cats for many years.  In the past year, HHS has had many changes and looked at solving problems and coming up with solutions. Obviously taking in frisky felines and euthanizing them did not benefit anyone. It made staff feel horrible and it put them at risk of getting bit. The cats did not care for coming to the shelter, being put on stray hold only to be euthanized at the end of the hold. So staff researched and decided on two alternative outcomes that would save these frisky felines’ lives. In the fall of 2016, the Working Cat Program and on-site Feral Cat Housing Program were initiated. The Working Cats find success working in organic pest control at barns, nurseries, and other places looking for some help preventing pests. Cats who are a bit more weary of human interaction are eligible for a feral cat bungalow. HHS is lucky to sit upon eight acres of rural landscape. These cats are vetted, spayed or neutered, and ear-tipped and then introduced and released into the feral cat bungalow and slowly transitioned to be free-roaming on the property. They have shelters set up for them, food delivered to them, plenty of places to roam, and vet care available if needed. These cats are well cared for and HHS believes this is a better alternative!

Humane Society and Animal Rescue of Muskegon County: Children’s Education Program

Humane Society and Animal Rescue of Muskegon County believes that children hold the key to the future of our animal welfare, so they offer an education program open to children’s groups such as 4-H, Scouts of America, school field trips, and outreach to school classrooms. Children in the program learn many life skills including: responsibility, empathy, compassion, patience, respect, and kindness. They learn to relate their needs (food, water, general necessities, attention, and love) to what an animal needs while also teaching them the safest ways to introduce themselves and interact with new animals.


Outside the Box Award Program


Michigan Pet Fund Alliance and the Humane Society of Macomb Foundation are soliciting applications for Outside the Box award-winning programs, projects, or documents that Michigan shelters or 501(c)(3) home-based rescue organizations are successfully using.

Four $1,000 awards will be given.

Outside the Box can be something unique OR it may be something old with a new twist OR it could be something as simple as an outstanding documented Standard Operating Procedure that another shelter or rescue could easily replicate by just taking it “out of the box” and tweaking for their needs.

The application is pretty easy.  And you only have two weeks to submit it.


1.      Completed applications are due by midnight, Wednesday, October 31.

2.      Winners will be contacted by November 30.

3.      Winners must agree to present their awarded program/project/document at the next Getting to the Goal conference and assist in preparing an article for the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance e-blast newsletter.

4.      There are no limits on the number of applications from an organization.

5.      At least one winner will be selected for a project or program.

6.      At least one winner will be selected for a SOP or document that advances effective shelter management/operations.

7.      A total of four winners will be selected.

The application is here. Download it, fill it out, and send via email to  We look forward to hearing all of your great ideas!




September 18, 2018: Registration ends September 19 for Getting to the Goal conference 

September 7, 2018: Awards at Getting to the Goal conference

August 22, 2018: More Fear Free sessions at Getting to the Goal; Amazon Wishlist for DACC

August 15, 2018: More Best Friends sessions at Getting to the Goal

August 6, 2018: Early registration ends Tues! Fear Free sessions at Getting to the Goal

July 30, 2018: Still time to sponsor or exhibit at Getting to the Goal

July 18, 2018: DACC seeks new director; More Best Friends sessions at Getting to the Goal 

July 12, 2018: Temperament Testing; Behavior Assessment; Conversational Adoptions; Best Practices for Rescues; MPFA Assistance for Shelters

June 29, 2018: Diversion sessions at conference; Tuscola and Berrien County shelter employment opportunities

June 22, 2018: TNR at Conference; New Certified Rescues announced: St. Clair director search

June 14, 2018: Conference sessions: staff stress, dog behavior, breed labels, recruiting fosters; Dog bite prevention & GCAC videos 

May 31, 2018: Cat Specialists Presenting at MI No Kill Conference

May 24, 2018: Best Friends sessions at Getting to the Goal; SECC renewals

May 17, 2018: Conference News; Action Needed on MI “Petland Bills”; Unsung Heroes

May 4, 2018: MICHIGAN RESIDENTS: Your voice is needed TODAY!

May 2, 2018: Conference Registration Now Open: 2018 Getting to the Goal

April 30, 2018: You can help spread the message of No Kill in Michigan

Apr 10,2018: Sponsors and Exhibitors: It’s time to register for Getting to the Goal Conference

Mar 29, 2018: Getting to the Goal Conference: Save the Date!

Mar 13, 2018: Certified Rescue Renewals; Bay County; Job Postings; Facebook; Amazon

Feb 7, 2018: Cat Assessment Workshop; 2017 MI tax news; Customer loyalty programs

Jan 19, 2018: Dog Bite Awareness; BSL legislation; Kitten Survival Workshop

Dec 27, 2017: Save a vulnerable life

Dec 21, 2017: Conference topics survey; Canine vaccination guidelines

Dec 12, 2017: Outside the Box Award Winners Announced

Nov 22, 2017: Help senior pets in Nov; More visits to award-winning shelters

Nov 10, 2017: Visits to award-winning shelters; MI Animal Welfare Fund grant applications due

Oct 19, 2017: Shelter award winners announced; Welcome MPFA advisors!

Oct 12, 2017: New Award program & board members announced; Shelter pets may become official pet of MI

Sept 25, 2017: Community Cats

Aug 1, 2017: FREE Shelter Behavior Seminar registration open; New shelter manager at UPAWS

June 28, 2017: Free Shelter Behavior Seminar: Free TNR Workshop; Eaton County HS News

June 8, 2017: 2016 Shelter Reports; Phenols & Cats; Pet Retention

May 18, 2017: Dog Playgroups; Humane Lobby Day; Just One Day

May 10, 2017: MACS Collaboration; Certified Rescues Renewed; Mother’s Day Options

Apr 20, 2017: Shelter Behavioral Medication; Rescue Bank; Silver Muzzle

Apr 5, 2017: Workshops, Grants, Washer & Dryer

Mar 2, 2017: March News from MPFA

Feb 15, 2017USDA Removal of Animal Welfare Records; Thanking Community Supporters

Jan 31, 2017: Conferences & Tax Check-off for MI Animal Welfare Fund

Jan 10, 2017: Volunteer Opportunities

Dec 27, 2016: Time running out for 2016 tax deduction

Dec 13, 2016: Help MPFA with your holiday shopping

Nov 29, 2016: Help make MI a No Kill state this Giving Tuesday!

Nov 21, 2016: We are thankful for the progress that’s been made

Oct 4, 2016: Community Cats Podcasts; Cat Equipment Liquidation; Book Recommendations

Sept 27, 2016: Getting to the Goal Highlights

Sept 6, 2016: Today is last day to register!

Sept 2, 2016: Award Winners Announced

August 30, 2016: Animals in the Field – Law Enforcement Training; DACC Wishlist

August 23, 2016: Best Practices for Rescues; Transparency & Numbers for Shelters

August 11, 2016: Stories of Change and No Kill Progress in Mi; ABC12 Newsmaker covers MPFA and Conference

August 4, 2016: Capital Area Humane Society receives shelter award; Shelter-related conference sessions 

July 27, 2016: 4 more days of Early Bird discounts; Complimentary TNR Workshop

July 22, 2016: Million Cat Challenge comes to MI; Fear Free Initiative

July 14, 2016: Conference News: Scholarship Program open; ACO-focused sessions

July 7, 2016: Breed Labels and FeLV Cats

July 1, 2016: Understanding canine behavior can improve adoption outcomes

June 24, 2016: Conference Keynote Speakers Announced

June 8, 2016: Exhibit at the 2016 Getting to the Goal Conference

May 26, 2016: Humane Society of Huron Valley receives shelter award

May 17, 2016: Conference Registration Open; Roscommon County Shelter Award

May 4, 2016: Monroe County AC Award, DACC donations, $1000 for your group

April 26, 2016: Volunteers, Humane Lobby Day, SAWA

March 30, 2016: $1,000 for Your Group; Professional Investigator Training; MI Tax-Check-off 

February 29, 2016: Conference dates announced, ways to help Detroit pets, & more!

February 18, 2016: Washer & Dryer Fundraising Goal met!

February 2, 2016: Call To Action on Gas Chamber Legislation

January 27, 2016: Shelter Award Winners Announced

January 11, 2016: Detroit Animal Control & Care News

December 30, 2015: Your end of the year support

December 18, 2015: Statement from Animal Welfare Reform and Advisory Committee for Detroit Animal Control

December 9, 2015: Save Rate Report and Ways to Support MPFA While You Shop

December 1, 2015: Save a Shelter Pet on Giving Tuesday

November 12, 2015: Oven Warming Party & Cat Transports

November 4, 2015: Helping Dogs and Cats in Detroit

October 22, 2015: Shelters Making Strides; New Certified Rescues Announced

September 22, 2015: MI SECC U522 Agency Fairs

September 18, 2015: Cats, New Director, and Shoes

September 8, 2015: MI Gas Chamber Update

August 12, 2015: Best Practices Presentation to Ingham County

July 28, 2015: Jackson Galaxy Connects to Michigan 

July 21, 2015: Changes in  Adoptions Policies: Are You On Board?

June 12, 2015: Certified Rescue organizations renewed for 2015-2016

May 21, 2015: Canine Influenza;  Counties in the News 

May 6, 2015Adoption Promotion Idea & Mother’s Day

April 23, 2015: Volunteers Recognized and Resources Shared

April 8, 2015: Pet Retention GAINing in Gratiot County 

April 1, 2015Easy MI tax check-off helps shelters 

Mar  20, 2015: Just One Day, No More Homeless Pets Network, Million Cat Challenge

Feb 27, 2015: Eye on Detroit: Dasher’s New Home

Feb 11, 2015: You can help promote spay/neuter in February

Jan 30, 2015: Early Bird Deadlines to Help Pets 

Jan 23, 2015: Great Feedback on Kroon Grant Program

Jan 15, 2015: Saving the Lives of One Million Cats



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2018 Conference Presentations

Several speakers have provided their presentations and/or handouts from the 2018 Getting to the Goal conference held in Kalamazoo. 

The Care and Feeding of Staff and Volunteers  Dr. Linda Harper 

Cats Scratch: Here’s How to Keep Them in Their Homes Anyway  Theresa DePorter, DVM, MRCVS, DECAWBM, DACVB Oakland Veterinary Referral Services, Behavioral Medicine 

Decoding Data: Using Your Stats to Save Lives  Nikki Kelley, Best Friends Animal Society

Developing Plans and Addressing Issues – MPFA Assistance  Deborah Schutt and Lisa Rabine, Michigan Pet Fund Alliance 

Diversion Programs: Innovative Approaches that Keep Animals Out of Shelters  Jen Clarkson, Dog Aide and Kelly McLaughlin, Bark Nation

Empathy for the Fearful, Worried, or Anxious Dog   Theresa Porter, DVM, MRCVS, DECAWBM, DACVB, Oakland Veterinary Referral Services, Behavioral Medicine

Feral Kittens: More Than KMR   Tabitha Kucera, Fear Free Certified 

How Does Your Rescue Measure Up? Best Practices for Home-based Rescue Organizations Courtney Protz-Sanders, Paws for Life Rescue

How to Conduct Conversational Adoptions (Role Play Session)  Katie Timber, SPCA of Southwest Michigan; Tanya Hilgendorf, Humane Society of Huron Valley  

How to Powerfully and Effectively Leverage Volunteers  Pat Guerrero and José Ocaño, Best Friends Animal Society

How to Reach Your Target Audience: Digital Fundraising, Email Marketing, Digital Strategy  Amy Starnes, Best Friends Animal Society 

How We Improved –  Panel Discussion of Award Winners  Moderated by Deborah Schutt, Michigan Pet Fund Alliance

Opening Session  Deborah Schutt, Michigan Pet Fund Alliance

Outpatient Heartworm Presentation  2017 MPFA Outside the Box Award Winner  Tania Jaczkowski, Humane Society of West Michigan

Thinking Outside the Cage: Shelter Enrichment for Cats  Tabitha Kucera, Fear Free Certified

Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) Training Dr. Diana Newman, Michigan Pet Fund Alliance


MI SECC (State Employees Charitable Campaign) U522

In 2015, Michigan Pet Fund Alliance was invited to become an umbrella organization within the Michigan State Employees Charitable Campaign (SECC) which provides State of Michigan employees an opportunity for charitable giving via payroll deduction. No umbrella existed for animal welfare groups, and MPFA was invited to become such an umbrella with the understanding that MPFA could define criteria for inclusion.

Currently the following groups are included:

In addition to being invited by MPFA, organizations must meet SECC’s criteria:

  • 990, Financials, or Exemption Letter
  • Signed copy of SECC Non-discrimination policy
  • Michigan Charitable Solicitation License
  • IRS 501(c)(3) Determination Letter

The designation codes of the charities within the MPFA SECC umbrella are listed below. Access the MI SECC site here.