Editorial: January 21, 2005

The people have spoken ... but, apparently, dogs are not permitted the same privilege.

Local attorney Hal Dukes, a member of the board of directors for the Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary of Sussex County, donated a 5-acre parcel of land south of Frankford for the organization to start a “no-kill” shelter for homeless pets. Residents surrounding the site, however, expressed concerns with barking dogs and the organization pulled the plug on their plans.

Well, for that specific location.

The group vows to continue its search for land, thus continuing its mission of saving animals who would most likely not be afforded such opportunities if left on their own. According to Board member Mary Miranda, between 18,000 and 22,000 animals are euthanized in shelters each year. This is by no means a condemnation on those shelters. Space is not a luxury always at their disposal, so sometimes animals that cannot find a home must be put down. That’s where the Safe Haven sanctuary comes in.

And this is where the rest of us have a chance to chip in for a worthy cause.

Though land is disappearing here more quickly than ... well, anything else imaginable, there is still some to be found. Do we want that space to go toward another development of houses or strip malls, or would we prefer open space earmarked for saving the lives of abandoned or mistreated animals? What we’re looking for is five acres, preferably not bordering on residential properties.

A donation of that magnitude is almost too much to ask, what with the soaring costs of real estate in our community as of late. However, perhaps one of our towns could tie it in to a developer’s costs for approval of a new project, or Sussex County Council could move away from making miniscule individual refund payments and instead shoot that money to a cause that benefits the community as a whole.

This could be that cause. And this would be the time to get a program like this rolling.

If you would like to become involved in the Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary of Sussex County, simply call Executive Director Marianne Fleetwood at (302) 644-3570. We’re sure she’d like to hear from you if you knew of some cheap land, as well.