Detroit Dog Boss | Matt Pepper
We’re diggin’ on Detroiters who are the top dogs in the animal care industry. These entrepreneurs, innovators and educators are what make our community a top notch place to own our pups. We hope you enjoy learning about Detroit’s Dog Bosses as much as we enjoy working with them.
Matthew Pepper is the President and CEO of the Michigan Humane Society. We wanted to know more about this #DetroitDogBoss and the oldest, largest animal welfare organization in Michigan.
Q: When did you know you wanted to work with animals and how did you get there?
A: I have always been drawn to animals. I can recall each and every pet I have had throughout my life and, further, I can remember why each of was unique and so important to our family. I began college at Grand Valley State towards a degree in Advertising and Public Relations. I just wasn’t strongly connected to it. I had a great conversation with my father who has always inspired me to follow my heart. I changed my major to wildlife biology. The summer I graduated I got a job working at the Kenosha County Humane Society in Wisconsin and absolutely loved the work. It was a life changing experience. It was a job that I left every day feeling like I had legitimately made a difference – I was making the world better. After college I worked for the Humane Society of Kent County (now the Humane Society of West Michigan) as a cruelty investigator and then with the Kent County Animal Shelter as an animal control officer supervisor. I was hooked.
I followed my passion from there to Louisiana, Tennessee, and New Mexico back home to Michigan when I was offered the opportunity to lead the Michigan Humane Society. Truly a dream come true. This is an organization that has an amazing impact on this community. I’m honored to be a part of it.
Q: What do you like the most about working with dogs?
A: I love the pure, innocent joy of connecting with a dog. I love the pride and sense of responsibility that comes with comforting one. I love the feeling of honor and duty that comes along with delivering a dog from cruelty and neglect. I love being a part of an organization that celebrates and enhances the bond we have with our pets.
Q: What’s the most exciting thing happening in your organization this year?
A: It has been so amazing to see our Statewide Response team taking off and having and even greater impact than we hoped. This week they completed their Animal Search and Rescue (ASAR) course through Code 3 Associates. This makes them the only ASAR certified team in Michigan and in the Midwest. There work developing relationships with local law enforcement has provided critical support to both those agencies and the animals of those communities. They provide much needed education and training to law enforcement reinforcing the connection between human violence and animal cruelty and giving police throughout the state the tools to do their job safely – for them and for the dogs they encounter. It is a great program that we hope to see continue to grow in the coming years.
Q: Favorite dog breed, and why?
A: I can’t really say I have a favorite. I’ve met so many incredible dogs over my career of varying breeds that I can’t say one breed in particular sticks out. That said, if there is a breed that is maybe a notch or two ahead of the rest it would the cocker spaniel. For no other reason than it is what my wife and I have always had – including my beautiful buff, 10 year old, cocker spaniel Blondie that is a part of our family now. I adopted her when I was the director at Memphis Animal Services almost 10 years ago.
I do also have Rocky right now, a three legged, 2 year old chihuahua/rat terrier mix. He has been such a special edition to our family and has pushed that breed up the list as well. I have been blessed with such amazing dogs to welcome into our family.
Q: What’s one thing you want dog owners in Metro Detroit to know?
A: The Michigan Humane Society is the oldest, largest, and most impactful animal welfare organization in Michigan. I want them to know that we are here. I want them to understand the complexity and scope of our services. That, first and foremost, the Michigan Humane Society is here to support the families of Metro Detroit and our pets are an important part of the family unit.
I want them to know that Detroit can be the most animal friendly city in the country. That we can lead the way as we have through this city’s history in so many other ways. Detroit is made up of passionate and strong people and together there is nothing we cannot accomplish on behalf of the animals we all care so much about.