Humane Society of West Michigan.

Helping Animals Find Their Forever Homes

When Henry entered the Humane Society of West Michigan (HSWM) he was not only malnourished and suffering from severe skin infections and internal wounds, but he’d also lost most of the fur on his body. Because of this, the HSWM staff members could not identify his breed. However, with daily-medicated baths, proper meals, rest, and a lot of love, the HSWM helped quicken Henry’s journey towards recovery.

With a “sweet and loving personality,” Henry befriended everyone he met, said Brooke Hotchkiss, HSWM’s development specialist. He even became the first dog to attend morning staff meetings, greeting every member and making it impossible for them not to hug him back.

While volunteering at the HSWM, Amy Yoder, one of the organization’s numerous volunteers, fell in love with Henry and soon adopted him into her family. Even though he has a big yard now and lots of toys at home, Yoder and Henry still visit their friends at the HSWM.

Henry when he first arrived at HSWM.
Henry when he first arrived at HSWM.

“It’s been amazing to see him come back year after year,” said Hotchkiss. With a beautiful, thick coat of hair, Henry has endured an incredible transformation and is now recognizable as a happy and healthy retriever mix.

Stories like Henry’s have become Hotchkiss’s favorite part about working for the HSWM. Not only does she assist in the animals’ recovery process and help find them a perfect match, but also she said it is “wonderful to see the follow up on their stories.”

Adopters will share updates on how these animals are enjoying their new life and send adorable photos of past alumni engaging in fun activities, such as playing catch at the beach or lounging on a comfy couch.

As a shelter with the policy of never euthanizing for time or space, the HSWM looks after all companion animals, including cats, dogs and other small critters, such as rabbits and guinea pigs. Every so often, more unique critters are also brought into the shelter, such as chinchillas, ferrets and potbelly pigs. Last year was a record-breaking year for the HSWM because it adopted out 4,027 animals from its shelters.

The Humane Society of West Michigan helped 4,027 animals find forever homes last year.
The Humane Society of West Michigan helped 4,027 animals find forever homes last year.

Since the HSWM is a 100 percent donor-funded nonprofit, this organization appreciates the “philanthropic minded community” in West Michigan as it allows HSWM to continue to assist more animals each year, said Hotchkiss. To support its mission of providing the care animals deserve and helping them find their forever homes, the HSWM will be hosting the sixth annual Paws, Claws and Corks event on Monday, March 12 at DeVos Place.

Featuring a variety of beer and wine samplings and delicious food from local restaurants and catering companies around West Michigan, this fundraiser will also include exciting activities, like a silent and live auction, a wine pool, and a photo booth with kittens and puppies.

With the goal to raise $225,000, attendees can also show off their competitive side by bidding on special feline, canine, restaurant and experience-based packages, such as cool getaways to Holland, Saugatuck, Northern Michigan wineries, and an all-inclusive Walt Disney World vacation.

Attendees at last year's Paws, Claws & Corks.
Attendees at last year’s Paws, Claws & Corks.

Even if you spend all your time with the adorable kittens and puppies at the photo booth, you can still make a one-time donation or sign up for PAWS, HSWM’s monthly membership program, where people choose the dollar amount they wish to contribute. If you do sign up at the event, you will also receive a free bottle of wine for becoming a member.

Because Henry is just one example of an animal that has had his life changed through this organization, the Paws, Claws and Corks event is a fun way to help all pets find loving, forever homes.

Tickets are still available and can be purchased through HSWM or at the event on March 12 at the DeVos Place. Individual tickets are $100 each and tables of 10 seats are priced at $1250.

*Photos courtesy of the Humane Society of West Michigan (main image is Henry & HSWM volunteer)