Milwaukee Pets Alive


by Jessica Tighe

Every year about seven-thousand animals are killed in Milwaukee County. They have to be put down because they don't have a home and there's not enough room to keep them. Now a fairly new non-profit organization, Milwaukee Pets Alive, is working to change that.

"I'm welling up with tears as we speak because there are so many wonderful animals. More than likely they wouldn't have made it out alive so when we take them out of animal control, you can tell their demeanor changes and they almost know they're safe," Lisa Grabowski, Executive Director for Milwaukee Pets Alive says with tears in her eyes.

Za Za is one of the lucky ones. Also known as "Zippy" for her zest for life, the Border Collie mix loves to work and play. She runs around while getting her energy out at Bay View Bark, an indoor/outdoor dog park and activity center in Milwaukee. When Za Za is excited she snorts! She's snorting a lot these days thanks to the MPA workers who rescued her.

"In her case, lots of other groups had the opportunity to take her and for whatever reason could not. A lot of times they don't have the space or they don't have a foster home. They don't have the resources and so that's who we're looking at," Jes Berndt, the Dog Foster Coordinator for MPA explains.

The volunteers at MPA identify at-risk animals and then take them directly to the vet. The non-profit doesn't have a building at this point, so the animals are immediately placed into foster homes.

Joe Wilke is Za Za's foster dad. He lost his dog Roxy two years ago and now he's trying to help others. "I've had Za Za since October so coming up on six months now. She's a very good dog, a very good dog. She's going to find a great home," Wilke says.

While the foster family is providing a temporary home, the crew at MPA is busy trying to find a permanent one. In Za Za's case, they want an active family.

"She can just go, go, go. So someone who is training for a marathon, someone who loves to go for a hike, loves to be outdoors. Perfect! That's what we're looking for," Berndt explains.

The group takes great care in placing the pets because they want this move to be the last. The volunteers know they can't save every pet in the county, at least not yet, but they're trying.

"No more animals should die in Milwaukee County. It's not necessary. We can do this. We can end the problem of killing homeless pets in Milwaukee. A community where no homeless pets die is a great community for both animals and people. We're only going to great things for both," Grabowski says.

If you're interested in adopting Za Za or checking out the other pets available, you can go online to or the group's Facebook page.

MPA has a number of adoption events throughout the community each month. The group is also looking for more volunteers if you'd like to help in that way.


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