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Improvements at Harbor Humane Soc. after WZZM story

8:17 PM, Nov 8, 2013   |    comments
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WEST OLIVE, Mich. (WZZM) -- More than 200 animals are living in better conditions now because of a 13 On Your Side story that helped bring changes to a local shelter.

Earlier this year, WZZM 13 uncovered poor conditions, overcrowding, and improper procedures at the Harbor Humane Society.  Now the shelter leaders have given WZZM 13 an inside look at the improvements they are making.

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Light from a window now shines down on a room where a dog named Celia spent her darkest days, in solitary confinement. 

"We no longer do that here, we don't take dogs and isolate them in a room," says Jeff Stiegman, interim operations director at Harbor Humane Society.

Rusty cabinets were removed and feces cleaned from kennels, which were then repainted. Improvements at the Harbor Humane Society follow a 13 On Your Side investigation where a former employee spoke out about the poor conditions and improper polices, including concerns over a room where animals were both euthanized and housed.

At the time, shelter leaders admitted it was wrong.

"No, I don't think it's proper," said Teresa Huxhold, treasurer for the Harbor Humane Society board.

"Certainly your story helped bring some of that to light and brought us new volunteers and new donations to do somethings we couldn't do before," says Stiegman.

The shelter hopes to expand the laundry and surgery rooms, which are now in close quarters and has already started what's known as Project Sunshine, which includes adding 45 kennels to the outside area. 

"So we can bring all the dogs out during the day, get a little sunshine that's the name," explains Stiegman.

Shelter officials say another sign of progress is that they are seeing empty kennels for the first time in months.

"I'm getting goosebumps thinking about it, so many positive things are happening here," says Adam Burnett, marketing manager for the Harbor Humane Society.

Shelter officials say more animals are being transferred or adopted, including Celia, who is now free to run at a private rescue, and shelter leaders say likely to find a home soon.

Shelter leaders say some of these projects won't move forward without additional funding. They hope to get donations in the ball park of $185,000.

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