At DipJar, we have the opportunity to work with so many outstanding organizations. We love them all, but those that deal with animals - whether it's the Loggerhead Marinelife Center or the Friends of the Dallas Animal Shelter - have a special place in our hearts. We were reminded of this recently when we spoke with Robin Lydic, the director of animal care at the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan, home of the Yeager Family Pet Shelter.
Established in 1934, its name and mission have evolved over the years. Today, it is the sole no-kill shelter in Berrien County. Its mission is to rescue homeless/abandoned cats and dogs and provide them with the necessary care until they are matched with a long-lasting family that can provide a nurturing and caring environment.
When we met with Robin, she described a well-intentioned, well-run, and well-respected organization that’s meeting the sheltering and adoption needs of its local, country, and regional communities. The Humane Society of SW Michigan moved into a new, larger space five years ago and implemented a number of changes in 2021, and the effects have been transformative.
For example, those interested in adopting an animal now schedule a time to meet up to three potential pets. It’s a far cry from the din of the past when people would see all of the animals in excited cacophony! The new approach has proven to be calmer and more effective and feedback has been positive. In 2021, they adopted out 507 animals (250 cats, 257 dogs).
Robin described some of the ways they strive to make their placements successful, including their unique approach to training. “We don’t offer training to the public,” she explained, “but we do house train and leash train all of the dogs who enter our care. This helps reduce animal returns. We also do a lot of education on pet ownership. People need to understand they need to give any new pet - but especially rescue and shelter animals - time to adjust.”
In addition to individual adoptions, the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan also partners with community organizations to provide service animals. In the case of Pets for Patriots, the Humane Society partners with the local VA to connect veterans with support animals. Working with Blue Star Service Dogs, they offer potential service dogs that are trained by inmates.
These are just a few ways the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan supports its community and neighbors - the relationship is reciprocal. “People and local businesses have responded well to our recent improvements.” Aside from the generous support of individuals and organizations, multiple fundraising events are planned for 2022.
One is the “FURsbee” Golf Challenge, taking place on May 21st. It will be held in a local park and feature live music, food trucks, and a Lion’s Club pig roast. In the Fall, there will be a “best in show” dog show. Local business leaders will have the opportunity to strut a dog on the runway. It will take place in an airplane hanger and will also include refreshments and a silent auction.
Needless to say, the Humane Society’s DipJars will be on hand for both. The ease and flexibility of the DipJars have made them a loyal - and effective - companion for the Society. “Anything we do, really, we bring the DipJars along,” Robin. Their use has been a powerful addition to the Society’s fundraising efforts, generating more than $25,000 since 2018.
As an example of the support they receive - and the role DipJars play - Robin pointed to Brian Maynard, the founder of Forte Coffee, in St. Joseph. He has no connection to the shelter but is a huge animal lover and has made homes for three DipJars in his stores. Together, they generate $300-500 per month as customers “dip” after buying their coffee and goodies.
“We live in a gracious community, both in terms of financial support and volunteers,” said Robin, “for that I am grateful.” At DipJar, we’re grateful for the work Robin and so many others are doing all across the country!
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