Introducing Jackie Finn, Friend and Superhero

Jackie Finn Grand Rapids BISSELL Pet Foundation ArtistOur team at the BISSELL Pet Foundation had the honor of spending the afternoon with up and coming artist, Jackie Finn. Jackie is special to us for many reasons. To name a few, she is a fellow animal lover, enjoys sunshine, and truly understands what it means to advocate for those who don’t have a voice and can’t speak up for themselves.

Jackie was born with Down syndrome, a chromosomal abnormality that causes an individual to have three copies of the 21st chromosome instead of two. We think her extra chromosome helped make her extra special and our superhero.

We first met Jackie at an event she hosted to showcase her artwork. We were blown away by her talent and marveled at her love of dogs. Our founder, Cathy Bissell, knew there was something magical about Jackie’s artwork and wanted to share it with our community. We commissioned Jackie to paint and design our 2014 BISSELL Blocktail Party thank you cards which went out to all of our vendors, sponsors and in-kind donors, a total list of about 250 different people and organizations.

When we called Jackie to let her know we wanted to purchase 250 of her cards, she said, “That would be cool. I can do that!”

Jackie Finn Grand Rapids BISSELL Pet Foundation Artist Blocktail Card

Jackie’s Blocktail Card

Purchasing her cards wasn’t enough for us. We wanted to get to know Jackie better and learn more about why she loved to paint dogs. So, we invited her to spend the day in our pet co-working area, the BISSELL Pet Spot, and help with an employee pet photo shoot. It took some time for Jackie to warm up to her new furry friends, but once she did, we saw a light shine through her eyes.

She went on to tell us that some of her best friends were pets. She spoke enthusiastically about a friend’s Golden Retriever, Zander, who passed away. Painting pets, affectionately known as her friends, gave her a voice to showcase her empathetic and caring heart. Jackie’s paintings have given her a platform to enter and win many art competitions, meet new people, and even start her own official card business.

We asked Jackie why she likes to paint, and she simply said, “Because it makes me happy.” Her answer was so humble and sweet, just like her personality.

When we reached out to pay for her wonderful service, Jackie blew us away with the generosity of her spirit. She decided to donate the cards to the BISSELL Pet Foundation! She delivered the Blocktail thank you cards herself to our office and they were more beautiful than we imagined.

She reminded us of what it truly means to be an advocate for the voiceless. For these reasons and more than we can write, Jackie is our superhero.

To learn more about Jackie and her art, please visit her Facebook page.

Interested in learning more about the BISSELL Pet Foundation? Visit our website at www.bissellpetfoundation.org.

 


Auction Travel Packages Help Pet Foundation Raise Over $250,000 at Annual “Blocktail” Party

BISSELL Blocktail Party Attendee Rain DogIn its biggest year yet, the BISSELL Blocktail Party hosted guests and their favorite pets to raise more than a quarter million dollars to support animal welfare organizations across West Michigan. The event, known as the “BEST DOG-GONE Party in Town”, was help on the lawns at Mangiamo! and featured live entertainment, a photo booth, a one-of-a-kind silent auction and scrumptious “yappetizers” for both pets and their humans.

“New this year was the ability to bid from your mobile device,” said Mara Rasikas who sits on the committee of the Foundation, “We also had ‘pet painting’ by Dawn Omboy and we introduced our first ‘Blocktail Cocktail’ party drink.”

Silent auction items included 4 unique travel Experiences, including a Saks Fifth Avenue NYC Shopping Spree, New York Amazing Long Weekend, Telluride (Colorado) Luxury Dream Vacation and a Wine Tasting Experience in Napa Valley. All told the four Experiences helped raise $4,750 for the cause.

The BISSELL Blocktail Party was founded in 2005 by a group of animal advocates to support local, West Michigan animal welfare organizations. Funds from this year’s party were awarded as grants to 14 organizations including:

  • Mara Rasikas BISSELL Pet Foundation Blocktail Party*Community Spay Neuter Initiative Partnership (C-SNIP):       $45,000
  • *Humane Society of West Michigan: $40,000
  • *Vicky’s Pet Connection: $27,000
  • Pound Buddies (Volunteers for Muskegon County Animal Control): $19,500
  • *Kent County Animal Shelter:  $18,845
  • West Michigan Spay & Neuter Clinic:  $18,000
  • *Crash’s Landing & Big Sid’s Sanctuary:  $12,500
  • *Safe Haven Humane Society:  $10,000
  • Lake Haven Rescue:  $10,000
  • *Reuben’s Room Cat Rescue:  $6,750
  • *Carol’s Ferals:  $5,000
  • Kelley’s Heart to Heart:  $5,000
  • *Focus on Ferals:  $5,000

* “Blocktail Buddies” each received an additional $1,000 gift earlier in 2014 to recognize their dedication to animal welfare.

ABOUT the BISSELL Pet Foundation

The BISSELL Pet Foundation is a charitable 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to help reduce the number of animals in shelters and to support organizations dedicated to the humane care and treated of animals through pet adoption, spay/neuter programs, microchipping and foster care. Founded in 2011 by Cathy Bissell, the BISSELL Pet Foundation is an extension of her long-standing love for animals and commitment to their welfare. The foundation is supported by BISSELL Homecare, Inc., a 137-year-old Grand Rapids-based floor care appliance brand in its fourth generation of family leadership. For more information, visit http://www.bissellpetfoundation.org/

SEE More About the 2014 Blocktail Party in the Press:



A Pixie Pup Adoption Story

A few months ago, we heard the news about a massive rescue operation taking place in Montcalm County Michigan.  An irresponsible breeder was busted for breaking several local ordinances by keeping 100+ puppies and dogs on her property.  She decided to surrender all of her dogs rather than face a citation. The BISSELL Pet Foundation responded quickly to the crisis allocating emergency grant funds to McCloud’s Lake Haven to provide for the sterilization, flea medication, and dental work for 58 pixie dogs.  McCloud’s Lake Haven sent us the following story from a family who adopted one of these rescued dogs.

Pixie’s Story

Pixie Lake Haven Rescue

Pixie

I recently started fostering for Lake Haven Rescue; it had been many years since I had done some fostering, so I decided to do it again.

Then, I met Pixie.  My second foster dog.  In fact, I was schedule to foster another dog, but Pixie was in need of a new foster right away.  The previous foster’s dog loved her so much that she wanted to play with her non-stop, which would haven been ok, but she was a much larger dog and they did not want this 2.5lb puppy to get hurt.  So Lake Haven (Lisa Portenga) called and asked if I could pick her up that night.

The absolute first moment I saw Pixie, I loved her.  Then, she stuck her little pink tongue out of her mouth and I was completely smitten.   We brought her home from the meeting spot at Petsmart.  The whole family fell in love with her right away.  Even my husband!

Earlier that day, I had to put my cat of ten years to sleep.  He had been suffering from cancer for a while and thought it was best to have him go to Heaven.  I had a huge empty spot in my heart.  Then came along Pixie!!

Pixie the rescued pixie pup montcalm michigan

Pixie

It was like she fit right into that empty spot perfectly! Trust me, there is not a day that goes by that I do not miss my cat, Cupcake.  But having her made my life much more bearable.

We already had two dogs of our own and we were not looking to add another.  The point of fostering is not to keep them, right?  Well, there was no way I wanted that little dog to leave my house!  The first time we tried to kennel her, she literally screamed and cried.  I couldn’t take it, so I slept on the couch with her the first night and vowed she never would be locked in a cage again.  She sleeps in bed with my husband and me.  His doing!

I know my husband could see the love we all had for her, so he called Cheryl and told him he wanted to adopt her for my Mother’s Day present.  I was already (reluctantly) scheduled to take here to Petsmart for the adoption event and even had a lady coming over to meet her.  Cheryl, Lisa, and my husband had to figure out a way for me not to get her adopted to someone else!  At one point, I did get very suspicious.  Pixie is officially mine!  What a wonderful Mother’s Day present! We also decided to keep her given name ‘Pixie’ to honor all of the ‘Pixie Pups’ that Lake Haven rescued.

So, I am happily, what they consider a ‘foster failure’.

– Lisa J

Donate NowAccording to the ASPCA, only 20-30% are adopted from rescues or shelters.  Five out of ten dogs in shelters are destroyed simply because there is no one to adopt them.  The BISSELL Pet Foundation is determined to change these statistics by providing support for adoption programs across the United States.  We are grateful to the many individual donors who provided the funds to help dogs like Pixie.  Your support helped save the lives of 58 pixie pups!

About the BISSELL Pet Foundation

The BISSELL Pet Foundation is a charitable 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to help reduce the number of animals in shelters and to support organizations dedicated to the humane care and treated of animals through pet adoption, spay/neuter programs, microchipping and foster care. Founded in 2011 by Cathy Bissell, the BISSELL Pet Foundation is an extension of her long-standing love for animals and commitment to their welfare. The foundation is supported by BISSELL Homecare, Inc., a 137-year-old Grand Rapids-based floor care appliance brand in its fourth generation of family leadership.


The Adoption of Lilly and Petunia

A few months ago, we heard the news about a massive rescue operation taking place in Montcalm County Michigan.  An irresponsible breeder was busted for breaking several local ordinances by keeping 100+ puppies and dogs on her property.  She decided to surrender all of her dogs rather than face a citation. The BISSELL Pet Foundation responded quickly to the crisis allocating emergency grant funds to McCloud’s Lake Haven to provide for the sterilization, flea medication, and dental work for 58 pixie dogs.  McCloud’s Lake Haven sent us the following story from a family who adopted two of these rescued dogs.

Lilly and Petunia’s Story

Pixie Pups Lilly and Petunia Lake Haven

Lilly and Petunia

After 13 years, we had to put our Bichon, Dilly down in March. We were all heartbroken about it. The next day, my parents saw on the news that over 100 animals were being taken in by Lake Haven Rescue, the pixies, and they immediately thought of adopting one even though it was very soon.  Although my mom had said that we wouldn’t get another dog for a while, my brother and I finally convinced her to go look at the dogs on a Saturday at Petsmart about three weeks later.

My brother immediately gravitated toward Eve, who is now Lilly, and my mom immediately pick up Haven, who is now Petunia, with no intention by my mom of bringing home two dogs.  They adopted Lilly, and Petunia was too young to go home that day, but they decided to adopt her as well.

I was at the University of Michigan, and my family video called me while I was in the library to show me Lilly.  I was so excited that I drove home to Whitehall from Ann Arbor that day to spend the weekend with her.  A few days later, they were able to bring Petunia home.  They fought and wrestled the first day, and soon enough they were sleeping together in the bed that Dilly used to occupy.  They are so small that they can both fit in it.

I came home from school for the summer a few weeks later, and our house was definitely not empty.  It was an overwhelmingly great feeling to give two dogs a home where they have many people coming in and out to see them, and when they are alone they have each other.  They spend their days playing and wrestling and then napping with us on the couch.  My cat, who is 19 years old, is indifferent to the puppies, but they lover her and attempt to play with her.

Petunia is growing fast, and she cries when she thinks she is going to be left alone without Lilly.  Lilly’s favorite toys are ping pong balls, and she likes being held like a baby.  They are so loving and we refer to them as our little ‘time wasters’ because of all the time we spend petting them and playing with them when we are busy because we just can’t help it.

Thank you for allowing our family to be complete.

-Marie D.

Donate NowAccording to the ASPCA, only 20-30% are adopted from rescues or shelters.  Five out of ten dogs in shelters are destroyed simply because there is no one to adopt them.  The BISSELL Pet Foundation is determined to change these statistics by providing support for adoption programs across the United States.  We are grateful to the many individual donors who provided the funds to help dogs like Lilly and Petunia.  Your support helped save the lives of 58 pixie pups!

About the BISSELL Pet Foundation

The BISSELL Pet Foundation is a charitable 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to help reduce the number of animals in shelters and to support organizations dedicated to the humane care and treated of animals through pet adoption, spay/neuter programs, microchipping and foster care. Founded in 2011 by Cathy Bissell, the BISSELL Pet Foundation is an extension of her long-standing love for animals and commitment to their welfare. The foundation is supported by BISSELL Homecare, Inc., a 137-year-old Grand Rapids-based floor care appliance brand in its fourth generation of family leadership.