Safe Haven Running Out Of Money

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By Terry Rogers

Safe Haven Animal Shelter Seeking Funds

Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary, a no-kill shelter located on Shingle Point Road in Georgetown, says it will have to close its doors by the end of the month if they cannot raise $200,000. Despite receiving an $800,000 donation to open their doors last year, the shelter is out of money, according to volunteers at the shelter.

“We have too many animals. Our building is full and we have to place the animals in kennels that cost a lot of money,” said Karli Swope, a volunteer who uses Safe Haven dogs in her Dogs in Schools program in Milford School District. Ms.Swope, a teacher at Milford, also fosters animals for the shelter.

“Our biggest cost is paying boarding kennels right now,” said Ms. Swope. “In addition, the animals coming into us often have diseases such as Lyme diseases and heartworms, both of which are expensive to treat. Some of them have been hit by cars, and we then incur the expense of an emergency veterinary service.

Ms. Swope, who is not on the organization’s Board of Directors, understands that it costs approximately $125,000 a month to operate the no-kill shelter as it runs right now, and this is mainly due to the number of animals they are housing. Currently, the shelter is home to 200 dogs and 100 cats, and they are unable to house all of them in their facility. Ms. Swope said that finding more people willing to foster the animals would significantly reduce the overhead costs.

“If more people would come forward and foster these animals, promote their adoption to family and friends to get them adopted, our costs would drop significantly,” she explained. Currently, many of the dogs are pit bulls and pit bull mixes that are difficult to place in a foster situation due to the belief that the breed is dangerous.

“They really are not any more dangerous than other dogs,” Ms. Swope said. “They are very much misunderstood.” Ms. Swope also explained that dogs that are brought into the shelter are checked by a veterinarian, given vaccinations and placed on a seven-day hold should it be possible to reunite them with their owners. This means that they need the space to keep the animals temporarily until placement in a foster situation is possible while the animals await adoption.

According to the website, GuideStar.org, a group that promotes transparency in the financial operation of non-profit organizations, Safe Haven’s 2011 tax returns reported income of $1,082,118 with expenses $279,810, leading some to question how the non-profit group found itself in a financial bind. Ms. Swope believes it is due to the increase in animals dropped off at the shelter that they were unprepared to care for, a reduction in adoptions and fewer foster homes for the pets. The shelter is a green facility, using very little electricity, and is heated and cooled using geothermal technology, which does keep costs lower.

“We are working with other no-kill shelters up and down the East Coast, trying to place animals with them and getting advice on how we can better serve the needs of these animals,” Ms. Swope said.

The director and board of directors could not be reached for comment regarding the matter. Individuals interested in becoming a foster family for animals at the shelter, adopting one of the pets housed there or wanting to make a donation can visit the organization online at www.safehavende.org.