Memory Lane

by Diane Meier, May 2017

Here are a few photos from the Facebook page for No Kill Delaware, which is the one bit of reality in the novel.   The Facebook page started in 2010.  The earliest posts seem to be gone from Facebook.  Here are screenshots of a few of the posts that remain.  The photos & posts are still on Facebook if anyone wants to see more.

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January 2014 – Safe Haven

The killing of the last 19 dogs at Safe Haven in November 2014 is one of the most painful experiences of my life.  And certainly my worst day when working in rescue.   I created a Memory Wall on the Facebook page that is heartbreaking but I think that it helped some people.

Safe Haven was a no kill shelter that built a large building and then went bankrupt because of too big a mortgage, bad management and a Board that refused to make tough decisions.  I was on the Board for 3 years and resigned 18 months before Safe Haven went bankrupt because I was exhausted from fighting against the bad management.

After Safe Haven went bankrupt, the ASPCA came and took over the shelter to help close it down.  ASPCA would not let rescue groups have dogs unless they had a building, which of course, almost none of them have.   Faithful Friends, a no kill shelter, and Response-A-Bull Rescue, a Pit Bull rescue group that has a facility, took as many dogs as they could.   Delaware Humane and Delaware SPCA each took a couple of animals.  I tried to market the dogs on No Kill Delaware.  A Facebook page called Hope for Delaware Dogs marketed the dogs, too.   Volunteers did everything they could and most of the animals were adopted.   Sierra the Chow was saved from being the 20th dog killed by ASPCA by Home for Life but no other sanctuaries, including Best Friends in Utah would take any dogs.

The community worked hard to get the last dogs and cats adopted, but the APSCA left two weeks earlier than promised and killed the last 19 dogs.  The hearts of animal lovers throughout Delaware were broken.   Karli Swope Crenshaw, Grass Roots Rescue, tried to get dogs but was not allowed to do that, despite the fact that she had been an incredibly successful part time adoption coordinator for Safe Haven.  Karli organized a candlight ceremony for the community that was well attended.

I reached out to Mark Barone through the No Kill Delaware Facebook page.  He decided to paint each of the 19 Safe Haven dogs, so they are memorialized in his amazing An Act of Dog project, which is paintings of 5,500 dogs.  That is the number of dogs killed every day in America.

I reached out to Mark Barone through the No Kill Delaware Facebook page.  He decided to paint each of the 19 Safe Haven dogs, so they are memorialized in his amazing An Act of Dog project, which is paintings of 5,500 dogs.  That is the number of dogs killed every day in America.

This is Mark Barone’s painting of Ruby, one of the Safe Haven 19.   More info about the Safe Haven 19 is here.  At that meeting, I read the names of the Safe Haven 19.  The “security” for the meeting – a bunch of volunteers for the group that sponsored the meeting – literally chased me around the room to try and stop me from reading the names.  That was certainly something I’ll never forget.  It turned out that Hetti Brown later succeeded in getting the state to take over dog control and for that, I give her much credit, although her response to the killing of the Safe Haven 19 was a letter that claimed that killing the dogs was absolutely necessary.  The community completely disagreed.

 

 

I also wrote all of the state legislators about the horror of the killing of the Safe Haven 19 and I did get a response from Ruth King, as described below. The letter was printed on the No Kill Delaware blog.  When I took down the blog, I didn’t save any of it.  It was too painful.  I’m glad the Facebook page still has the posts but it has been very painful to even look at all this even now, about 3.5 years after it all occurred.

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I managed to get the 20th Safe Haven dog into Home for Life, a no kill sanctuary that has been operating successfully for decades.  A young man who had rescued her before the shelter closed couldn’t take her home.  Sierra had a biting problem.  In fact the first time I met Sierra at Safe Haven, she bit the hell out of my hand because I approached her stupidly.   But Sierra had bonded with that young man and the acting director of Safe Haven, who says she read Sierra story books.  Sierra does beautifully with the staff at Home for Life.  Donations to Home for Life are always needed.  I wrote a blog about Sierra’s story on the Home for Life web site: http://www.homeforlife.org/sierra

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This was the banner for the Facebook page for a long time.  The No Kill Equation is the set of components for success spelled out by the No Kill Advocacy Center.

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