Humane Society of West Michigan has a long history of promoting humane treatment and responsible care of animals in West Michigan. The organization was originally known as Humane Society of Kent County, and was first organized in 1883 by a group of citizens who shared a concern about abused, neglected and homeless animals.
This compassionate group housed the animals in their homes and veterinary clinics until the first shelter was built in 1944. Due to a fire at this first shelter, the Humane Society moved in 1969 to 1890 Bristol Road NW in Grand Rapids. This move was a major step forward for homeless animals and the Humane Society as it provided significant improvements in its ability to serve as a haven for neglected, abused, and unwanted companion animals.
February 2001 brought an equally important move to a new, larger facility at 3077 Wilson Drive NW in Grand Rapid, HSWM's currently location. Sitting on 28,000 acres in a 21,500 square foot facility, the shelter was generously funded by individual and corporate donors.
In 2015, the Cattery Enrichment Project was completed, benefiting the healthy and happiness of our cat populations. With the amazing support of Cathy and Mark Bissell and a number of awesome donors, and additional 500 square feet were added to the cattery, two more cattery living spaces were created in our lobby, a window placed in cat holding, and larger cages were installed for our cats in the medical room.
Humane Society of West Michigan is serving Kent County, other counties in Michigan, and other states overpopulated with companion animals in need of homes. We are our area’s leading animal welfare organization, with a vision to build a healthy, safe, and compassionate community where all animals receive the care they deserve. Through education, example, placement, and protection, we strive to provide companion pets and those that care for them with education, expertise, and resources to ensure the highest quality care for our region’s animals. Demand for our services continues to grow at a high rate. In 2016, we adopted nearly 3,800, up over 700 animals from the previous year. By comparison, in 2011, HSWM adopted out 1,854 animals. Within the past 5 years the number of animals annually sheltered and adopted into healthy, happy homes has nearly doubled.
In partnership with over 300 active community volunteers, we are:
- Passionate about animals and their care
- Committed to ending pet overpopulation
- Dedicated to placing homeless animals in permanent homes
- Advocates for the protection of animals
- Our area’s foremost educator of children and adults with regard to humane animal treatment
- Focused on behavior training and support for adopters by way of behavior consultations, behavior classes, and a dedicated behavior department
- Vigilant about ending pet overpopulation by spaying and neutering shelter animals and we provide the best medical and behavioral shelter care possible.
With a dedicated staff of 45 part time and full time employees, and an annual budget of over $1.8 million (entirely supported by charitable gifts from our community) we work tirelessly to attend to the animals entrusted to our care. We are distinct from other regional animal organizations in that we:
- Do not euthanize animals based on space or time considerations
- Provide a full range of educational programs for the public
- Provide exceptional shelter care
- Have a dedicated and expansive Animal Behavior Department with trainers and staff who not only provide animals with nutrition, exercise and love, but also enrichment plans to help animals manage shelter stress (most shelters do not have behavior staff who are trained in animal behavior).
With over 130 years of service to our community, we are proud of the support for our shelter animals from local foundations, businesses, families and individuals. In 2016, over 7,600 donors supported our mission and partnered with us to improve the lives of rescued animals.