Other News

Safe Haven helps out-of-town pet parent in need (5/23/2014)

It was not such a common day, yesterday, at the shelter. A call came in from a gentleman who was out of town. He had received a call that his dog had slipped out of his collar and had been hit by a car. The person who hit the dog called someone to let them know it was on the side of the road and still alive. Mike, the dog's owner, was frantically looking for someone to check on Lou and possibly get him to a vet. He lives about 8 miles from Safe Haven and got our number from the West Bend Police Dept.

Penny and Cody were just about to leave the shelter for the day when the call came in. So, when Mike explained the situation, they left immediately for his house. When they arrived they found Lou in the ditch and he was dead. So, Penny had to call Mike to give him the horrible news. Mike was upset and concerned about his sons coming home and finding their pet dead in the ditch. Penny asked him where he would like them to put Lou and they picked him up out of the ditch, put him on Penny's lap in their jeep and drove him up to the garage area where Mike's sons would not see him until he got home. Mike was extremely appreciative and thanked Penny and Cody over and over again.

When she called me to tell me what had happened I also thanked them through my tears. My tears were for the sweet Lou and the hope he did not suffer long, the boys who no longer had their pet and Mike for his loss. But my tears were also for the selfless compassion that Penny and Cody displayed. They had been working at the shelter all day and no doubt tired and looking forward to going home. But none of that mattered when Mike called. And while their first concern was for Lou and the hope they could get to him in time, it quickly turned to concern for Mike's boys. I am so proud of Penny and Cody for the compassion they extended to this family. I am proud of our shelter and the people who share our mission and the vision that keeps us fighting every day to keep the doors open to help pets and the people who love them and protect them from the people who harm them. Both Penny and I agreed that, while often we question if we are in the right fight, after the tears dry from everything we see and hear, there's no doubt we are where we need to be.

And finally, I asked Penny how many buckets she cried while taking care of Lou and delivering the bad news to Mike. She told me she didn't shed the tears until, while stepping through the shelter door, she looked down and saw a drop of Lou's blood on the tip of her shoe. Please help us keep the word out there that the work Penny, Cody and everyone at the shelter does is important, not just to the animals, but to people as well.

Your support is critical to our ability to survive and our regular pleas for your help is so that we are available, not only everyday for the residents at Safe Haven, but for uncommon days like yesterday when Penny and Cody helped Mike and his boys with Lou.


Open letter to Blacky's former owners (2/18/2014)

I commend everyone who loves their pets enough to take care of them throughout their life and in their old age. You might be surprised how many people get rid of a pet as soon as it becomes 'inconvenient'. At the shelter we receive many animals just after they reach sexual maturity, after the unfixed pet is unlucky enough to get pregnant, and senior pets with medical needs. This post is about one such senior dog who came to the shelter. Blacky came to live with me because we didn't consider him adoptable.

Open letter to Blacky's former owners...

I wanted to let you know that Blacky passed away this week. He came to our shelter as a stray. We found you, his owners, but you said you didn't want him back. Had you "dumped" him before he came to us? I'll probably never know.

Blacky was blind. However, smell is a dog's primary sense, so blindness didn't hinder him much. He could still find a cracker on the floor 7 feet away. He also had cancer. The vet told us the tumors weren't painful and he might live out his natural life span before cancer started to affect his quality of life. As it turns out, he did.

I want you to know that Blacky enjoyed three more summers of sunshine, three more autumns of rolling in the leaves, and nearly three more years of sleeping next to me on the bed and sitting next to me on the couch. He was a sweet dog who rarely barked and only wanted to give and receive affection.

Someone once commented that he must have been a very cute puppy with his white paws and chest, floppy ears and white tail tip. He was a gentle soul who shared his life with you for nearly 15 years. Then, you left it to someone else to care for him in his old age. You left it to someone else to carry him outside the last two months of his life, when he could no longer handle the stairs. You left it to someone else to clean his messes the last few days of his life when he no longer had the strength to walk to the door. You left it to someone else to make the agonizing end-of-life decision.

I wanted to let you know that, after you abandoned him, Blacky didn't starve to death. He didn't freeze to death or meet with an accident. He died peacefully and as painlessly as possible. You should have been there to comfort him. You owed him that. Dawn
I had the pleasure of meeting Blackie and his extraordinary care-giver last summer. Blackie had other friends so he was never alone, he had a yard so he could snooze in a favorite sunny spot, and best of all he had the amazing and selfless people that took him in. He was such a gentle soul and God has truly gained a gem in His pack.
This letter was written by Dawn. She is my co-director at the shelter. Dawn took in Blackie because she knew he was virtually unadoptable with his disabiilties. She loved and cared for him till the day she let him go to the other side of the bridge. She took care of the veterinarian bills, medications, food and anything else he needed out of her own pocket. When we learned who had owned Blackie I called her and she told me she didn't want him because of the trouble he was becoming due to his vision and tumors. So, at that minute Blackie's luck changed for the better and Dawn became his family, along with those of us who also fell in love with him.
In addition to the animals living with Dawn, I have three shelter dogs living at my house. Unwanted, they were dropped off at the shelter. At that time we were in Pocahontas and had no room for them so they came home with me and they are still with me. In addition to those three I have been in Dawn's shoes by taking on two other dogs who were ill and terminal. One little rat terrier, Sadie, was partially blind, didn't hear real well and had a mammary tumor. She was given three months to live, but she made it 11 months with me before the tumor got so large it created problems with her breathing. I was with her when she took her last breath because her owners didn't want to be bothered with her end of life inconveniences. Nellie the American Bulldog battled thyroid and kidney problems. She came to our home and ran and played with the other dogs in our family until she could no longer stand. I carried her outside many times to be where she loved to be during her last couple of weeks with us. Sadly, I held her head while she too passed away when her kidneys failed. Again, all their end of life expenses were paid by me, not the shelter, and we will do it again and again until we can no longer physically do it. Dawn and I don't want credit, accolades or pats on the back. We aren't the only ones who give respite to these sweet creatures and we appreciate anyone who shares our cause. We want to love these forgotten souls while they are in this world and continue to pray that people wake up and realize that when they take on the responsibility of an animal's life, it is for the length of their life, not until they become an inconvenience. And also, we want people to realize that the animal shelter does not operate on air. It takes a lot of money to provide a shelter with a roof, utilities, food, vet care, medical supplies, litter, cleaning supplies and people to care for the animals. We operate solely on donations and every dollar donated makes a difference. Every spare dollar Dawn and I have has gone to the shelter the last two years for the care of the animals who find their way to us. We are unpaid directors who give countless hours and dollars to the shelter and are so proud of how far the shelter has come, however, there is so much more to do and we are dependent on the kindness of others to help us move forward. We thank everyone who has donated to our shelter and hope you continue to support our mission.