By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Staff Writer
Mike Gresham, a foster volunteer at Oxford’s K-9 Stray Rescue League, was one of 22 people across the country to be recognized as a National Foster Hero by the Petco Foundation and BOBS from Skechers during their celebration of June’s National Foster a Pet Month.
Founded in 1965 and headquartered in San Diego, California, Petco launched their foundation in 1999 and, to date, has invested more than $280 million in adoption and medical care programs, spay and neuter services, pet cancer research, service and therapy animals, and several other initiatives to help animals live their best life.
Teaming with over 4,000 animal welfare partners, including the K-9 Stray Rescue League, the Petco Foundation has helped more than six-and-a-half million pets find homes through adoption and rescue services.
“I started volunteering with the K-9 Stray Rescue League 12 years ago,” Gresham shared.
“My focus was improvements to the buildings to make it a better place for the volunteers to volunteer at, and a better place for the dogs to live. I rebuilt all the kennels, everywhere the dogs stay, and donated the money and the time and got it all remodeled.
“Along the way, I started fostering dogs, been doing that for 12 years, too. I don’t know the exact number, but I’m well over 200. I was close to 200 a couple of years ago when I ran a list of all the dogs I’ve fostered. The thing about fostering, it’s not just saving the dog’s life, my focus has been dogs with temperament issues or pregnant dogs with puppies that shouldn’t be here at the kennel or sick dogs.
“It wasn’t just to save them, it’s the families you touch, you know. You enrich the lives of all them and I still get e-mails from some of those families, so that’s pretty cool.”
Relying primarily on dogs picked up by animal control and dogs surrendered by owners unwilling or unable to care for them, K-9 Stray Rescue provides the animals with all the medical care they need before finding homes for their adoption. While the goal is to find quick, safe homes for these dogs, they are welcome to stay at K-9 Stray Rescue, which can house up to 50 dogs, for as long as the process takes.
“We’re incredibly grateful Mike has been recognized for his rescue efforts. He is the perfect example of a foster hero,” said Justine Hubbard, President of the K-9 Stray Rescue League.
“Saving dogs is Mike’s passion and it shows in every aspect of his life. Among many other actions he has taken, for the last nine years, he has dedicated two of his Saturdays every month making sure dogs needing homes get a chance at that by coordinating fosters and transporting kennel dogs to our local Petco in Auburn Hills.
“Fostering brings people together. During this (COVID-19) pandemic, our foster heroes have connected with people to provide a loving home for a homeless pet. The people adopting have a trust in the foster to help them on their adoption journey. During a time of crisis, it is such a privilege to be able to bring a light into a family’s home.”
Located at 2120 Metamora Road, K-9 Stray Rescue was founded in 1990, meaning the non-profit is celebrating 30 years of rescuing adoptable dogs, finding them permanent homes, and educating the public on responsible pet ownership.
Hubbard started her journey with the business in 2002, while still a student at Clarkston High School, and has worked her way up the ladder throughout her 18-year run.
“One of our counselors in high school was very involved here, and we had the announcements on the TV screen, and they were always looking for volunteers,” she shared of how her involvement unfolded.
“I’ve always been an animal person, so I came out and I’ve been here since. We lived in Waterford and I would drive out here, now we live in Ortonville. I love it.”
Fitting with Hubbard’s story, K-9 Stray Rescue relies heavily on volunteers, not just to foster dogs, but also their team of dog walkers who come in daily and provide the animals with some much-needed exercise.
To help draw up the funds to provide these dogs with the care and supplies they need, as well as keeping their facilities in top-notch shape, the non-profit holds local fundraisers throughout the year.
This year, a new tradition will begin, as K-9 Stray Rescue is holding their first annual Charity Golf Outing at Boulder Pointe Golf Club on Sunday, September 20.
Beginning with check-in at 8 a.m., registrants will be able to enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the facility, stationed at 1 Champions Circle off Market Street, as well as 18 holes of challenging golf on the beautiful course, kicked off with a shotgun start at 9 a.m., and a silent auction.
Using a scramble format, registration costs $150 for an individual or $600 for a team of four players. Expecting 140-plus golfers, sponsor opportunities are available for businesses, too.
For more about the K-9 Stray Rescue League, feel free to call 248-628-0435, e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website, K9Stray.com.
By Teddy Rydquist