Dogtime salutes North Carolina’s S.A.F.E. Animal Haven.
How did your organization get started?
S.A.F.E. Animal Haven started about five years ago when a group of friends who had met through rescue efforts joined forces and had the same vision for the plight of homeless animals. Many of us were involved in other rescues or trying to survive as an independent rescuer when we realized that our philosophy was the same and if we joined together, we could accomplish more as a group. We have slowly increased our volunteer base through our tireless efforts and have stayed with the philosophy that every dog should have the chance at a forever home.
What is your mission?
We are a small foster home system who wants to make sure every pet can find its way home. If it can’t find its way home, then we will provide a safe, caring, and secure environment until it finds a new home. We believe that a caring and compassionate commitment to the pets that we share our lives with provides for an enriching environment for us all. We believe that it is our responsibility to leave the footprints for the ones that will come behind us, to make a difference and to make our contributions meaningful and long lasting.
We are a non-profit group of volunteers that care deeply about animals and our community. We exist entirely on donations from our supporters. We see hundreds of animals whose bonds with humans have been broken. To help maintain those bonds, we serve as a community resource for information about companion animals and their care. From the importance of proper food and regular veterinary visits to tips on housebreaking a puppy or preventing a cat from clawing the new couch, we give people the skills and knowledge they need to enjoy the animals in their lives.
We want to create awareness within our community about the immediate need to reduce the number of unwanted and discarded pets. The cornerstone of our program is to educate and promote the concept of spaying and neutering. Our educational programs are designed to foster those values of respect, compassion, and reverence for life that make the world a safer place for both animals and humans. Each year, our staff of volunteers takes our message of compassion to schools and community groups.
How do most of your animals find their way to you?
We find our pets on the side of the road, dumpsters, neglect/cruelty cases, shelters, good samaritans who have found an animal and a variety of other situations.
What happens to the animals once they are in your care?
Once the animals are in our care, we make sure that their medical needs are taken care of and that they are spayed and neutered. We microchip and take care of any behavioral problems. We nurse them back to health and make them part of our family so that when their forever home comes they will be acclimated to a home and an indoor life. They are a part of our family, our life, and our hearts. When they find their match and move on to their forever home, we stay in contact so we can watch our babies mature. If that forever home does not come then they live with us. We do not euthanize unless it is medically necessary due to a lack of quality to their life or they are a danger to society and training cannot change this behavior.
Tell us about a particularly compelling animal or inspiring rescue.
We were placed in the back of a truck in a cold steel box. It was dark and scary , so I snuggled close to my sister for warmth and comfort. We bounced around until we arrived at a place where I heard a lot of barking. A man grabbed us by the scruff of the neck and carried us to a room with bars. Someone held my face but looked so sad. I did not understand. I gave her my best puppy look and my sister licked her hand. I don’t remember the pain since I was so young but the left side of my face was damaged. I did not have an eye and my skull was not even.
They finished the examination and placed us into another room with bars so we huddled close together. I saw big and little dogs everywhere but no one to comfort us. I heard the people talk and I peeked around the corner to see if maybe they knew we were here but they did not seem to notice. A kind lady who spoke to us came back and took us from our enclosure. I felt the warmth of her body and tried to snuggle close. She took us into a room filled with people and two of them rushed forward and swept us into their arms. I could see my sister giving them kisses so I joined in the fun! Their voices were sweet and comforting as they promised we would be S.A.F.E. for the first time in our lives. We were only 4 weeks old. I heard one of the people tell them that we would have been “put to sleep” if they had not offered to take us. I actually thought sleep might be a good thing so I buried myself next to my sister in the warm blanket and enjoyed my first sleep without fear for the first time in my life.
Puppy-hood was fairly normal but no one seemed to want me because of my deformity and being blind in one eye. My sister moved on to her forever home leaving me behind. There were other foster siblings who came and went but I was never chosen.
I grew into a large lab mix full of mischievous and then one day my body began to quiver without warning. I fell over on my side, foam coming from my mouth, uncontrollable twitching in my limbs and my feet paddling in the air. My foster Mom ran to my side but I didn’t recognize her. After several minutes I was back on my feet and ready to eat! My foster Mom called the vet but there was little they could do. They told her to watch me closely but that might be the only seizure I would ever have – my foster Mom and I were hoping that was true!
Luck was not on my side! I have had many more seizures since and the vet gave me several medications to combat the seizures. I still have them despite the medication. My foster Mom loves me although I have these problems. She sits and talks to me in a soothing tone, often with tears rolling down her cheeks. She pets me and holds me if I allow her – sometimes I don’t recognize her until the seizure is over.
I am 3 years old now and still in foster care. I still have seizures. My foster Mom makes sure that I have everything I need despite the financial burden. If you could help, please send a donation to S.A.F.E. Animal Haven or Carolina Vet Clinic in my name. On a monthly basis, my medication costs $100 and around $300 for food and treats. This does not include my visits to have my blood count checked and once in a while a trip to the Emergency Clinic.