Dogtime salutes New Mexico’s Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary.
How did your organization get started?
Juanita Fisher brought Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary into being in 1996. She had been a visitor and volunteer at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, and wanted the same type of organization for Dona Ana County. She invited Faith Mahoney, Best Friends’ Director, to come to Las Cruces to address people who had an interest in animal rescue and adoption. About 150 people attended her talk, some of who are still volunteering with Safe Haven to this day.
How do most of your animals find their way to you?
Most come from people who, for one reason or another, have to give up their pet. Some come to us from service people being deployed overseas, an elderly person moving in with a family member or into assisted living, a family that has lost their home and job, people who are terminally ill, to name just a few. Other pets come to us from abusive situations where the animal is kept under terrible conditions, saved only by a good Samaritan and yet others are found abandoned when their owners have moved on.
What happens to the animals once they are in your care?
Once in our care, the animals have already seen a vet and either put in foster until well or brought directly into Safe Haven. We make sure all our pets are spayed or neutered. We practice a “no kill” policy and the cats and dogs are prepared for adoption or to stay with us for the remainder of their days. We work with those requiring behavior remediation. Our dog park allows for the dogs to learn to get along with each other and have some play time. The cattery is an indoor/outdoor facility and the cats roam around freely. There is an isolation unit for very young kittens. All our pens are large and outdoors in a park-like setting.
Tell us about a particularly compelling animal or inspiring rescue.
They were found by a couple taking a walk out in the desert. Huddled around their dead mother who had been shot, they were trying to nurse on her. Eleven Labrador cross puppies about 8 weeks old, unwanted and abandoned that would have surely perished either from starvation or as prey for the coyotes that roam this area.
The call came in and they were brought to Safe Haven, huddled together in bewilderment in the back of an SUV. They were thirsty and starving and were placed in two different foster homes while vaccinations were administered. Once they came back into the sanctuary, healthy and happy, it was not long before they were spayed and neutered and adopted into loving homes. They became the “poster children” for Safe Haven’s mission and the darlings of our volunteers.