Another Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary board member has resigned.
Diane Meier, who has been working with Safe Haven for three years said she decided to leave the no-kill shelter because the shelter is not doing everything it can to get dogs adopted.
Meier, a longtime animal advocate, said she is sad to know that so many animals are sitting in pens when they could be with families. Earlier this year, two other Safe Haven board members resigned.
“I spent so much time trying to help the animals. Sometimes I would work from morning to night on Safe Haven stuff,” Meier said. “You don’t want a no-kill shelter to be holding onto animals. You have to turbo-charge adoptions.”
Safe Haven Board President Hal Dukes said he received Meier’s email to the board about her resignation.
“Diane was extremely helpful to us,” Dukes said. “When we reached our goal of getting the building up and opened, then people decide what they want next. Some want to do different things.”
Dukes said all the animals at Safe Haven are up for adoption.
“The key is to find a good home,” Dukes said. “We have a committee that decides the animal is ready to be released. If the animal is not friendly, it will be hard to adopt it out.”
When Fannie, a pit bull mix, was found wandering and pregnant in Bridgeville, Meier picked her up and took her to Safe Haven. When Fannie had her puppies, Safe Haven raised them with the intention to adopt them out. All of the puppies and Fannie have been adopted, except for Gabe, a puppy who remains at the shelter outside Georgetown.
Dukes said he doesn’t know the specifics of all of the animals at the shelter, but he said he trusts the committee to determine if the animal can be adopted.
“I think the animals needed more socialization,” Dukes said. “But there is no shortage of animals out there.”
Meier said several residents who have wanted to adopt dogs from the shelter, including Gabe, were turned down.
“I would have been willing to stay on the board and work if the issues had been resolved,” Meier said.
Safe Haven Executive Director Anne Gryczon said the shelter’s top priority is matching the right pets with the right owners. She said Safe Haven is always looking for good board members.
“It takes time and training, and we are getting there,” said Dukes. “We keep pushing the opening of the shelter back to make sure we are ready.”
Mom: “My son was devastated”
Tanya Passwaters and her 8-year-old son visited Safe Haven’s shelter to look at the dogs.
Her son fell in love with Max, a Jack Russell terrier at the shelter, and so Passwaters filled out the adoption paperwork. When they left the shelter, Passwaters was told a shelter representative would tour her home the next day and bring Max to come live with them.
“We were so excited to be getting the dog,” said Passwaters. “We went and bought a bunch of stuff for Max.”
The next day, Passwaters received an email informing her that Gryczon would not let Max be adopted without another dog.
The two dogs were bonded, which means the shelter tries to adopt them as a pair.
Passwaters said there was no notation on Max’s cage stating he had to be adopted with another dog.
Meier said in other cases bonded dogs have been adopted separately. She wanted a board policy on how bonded dogs are adopted out.
“It just seemed so arbitrary to me,” Meier said. “It has to be fair. I wanted a board policy on how this would happen. It’s so sad for people who want to adopt these dogs. Having a dog in a home is better than having two dogs in the shelter.”
Gryczon said Safe Haven has a contract with Kent County SPCA stating it will adopt out bonded pairs together.
“When we receive a pair of bonded dogs from Kent County, we are only able to take them under the idea they will be adopted together,” said Gryczon. “They could potentially sue us if we don’t adopt the bonded pairs together.”
Gryczon said Max and Diamond came to Safe Haven together from Kent County.
“Our employee made a mistake telling them they could adopt Max separately,” Gryczon said. “We are still trying to work it out with them.”
Passwaters said, “My son was devastated.”
“Here we had bought all this stuff for a dog that we were no longer getting. It was so sad,” she said.
Passwaters talked to Gryczon on the phone about the situation. Passwaters said she was told if she could find a home for the other dog, then she could adopt Max.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Passwaters said. “I asked about Gabe, a puppy at the shelter, and was told he had an adoption pending.”
Nearly a week later, both Gabe and Max are still up for adoption at Safe Haven.
“I knew nothing about Safe Haven going in there, but after all this I have a bad feeling about it,” Passwaters said. “To say we have a dog, but then change and say we don’t … it’s just heart-breaking. Max could be home cuddling with us right now.”
Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary is located on Shingle Point Road outside Georgetown. The environmentally friendly building was completed in June. BY RACHEL SWICK MAVITY