When word came down earlier this week that the Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary would be officially closing on Dec. 1, there were a few cautious comments about this not being the first time over the past several months we have heard this. However, after talking to the organization’s president, we are convinced this is truly the end of the Safe Haven effort.
This has been an emotional roller coaster for many in the community for years. At first, the notion of a no-kill shelter in the area got people excited. Fundraising efforts to construct a building were succesful, and many in the area were truly dedicated to this organization’s efforts. A contract with Kent County to take care of dog control for the county appeared to provide the financial stability the group would need to continue on its path, and all seemed well.
But rumors started circulating that all was not well with Safe Haven, including fairly loud allegations of financial mismanagement, through press releases, social media sites and word-of-mouth. Board members came and went, and several announcements came from Safe Haven saying the shelter would be closing, only to see them put out a contradictory statement a short time later.
When the Kent County Levy Court voted July 30 to terminate the dog control contract the county had with Safe Haven, it seemed to be only a matter of time before the group would have to close their doors.
Board members told us they received death threats from people in the public, and some local kennels that had stepped in to help take control of the dogs under Safe Haven’s control spoke out that they were not receiving help from the organization in regards to food costs. Eventually, the money ran out on Safe Haven, and now it seems like a certainty they will be closing for good.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has stepped in to help take care of the 70-or-so dogs left at Safe Haven, and a few volunteers are helping out, as well, until the dogs find homes. But there are no longer paid employees at Safe Haven, and this is obviously a situation that is only going to help short-term.
“There is no money for staff. The hardest part was letting staff go,” said the group’s president, who asked to remain nameless because of threats received by board members. “... This is what donations people make to ASPCA really go to, this kind of thing.”
It’s a sad chapter to a story that once held so much promise.
But there are still dogs that need good homes at Safe Haven, and people who care enough to take care of them before they find those homes. And that’s what all this was supposed to be about from the start, right?