Central Delaware
Safe Haven shelter to close from fiscal woes

GEORGETOWN — Due to dire financial straits, the nonprofit, no-kill Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary will close its doors Aug. 30.

“Being a nonprofit, we have always been operating month-to-month,” said Cindy Woods, Safe Haven director of operations. “Recently, it had become week-to-week.

“Like most businesses, in our first year, we really didn’t know what to expect. The operating cost turned out to be more than what was originally estimated.”

Safe Haven’s monthly operating cost has been about $125,000 since fall 2012, when the shelter moved into a new, green, 18,000-square-foot facility. The monthly tab pays for its 28 employees, vaccinations, animal food and running the building.

They can no longer afford food or medical care for their animals because they have no remaining funds and have already racked up substantial debt with the local veterinarians and food and medical vendors.

Safe Haven is seeking food donations to last the next five weeks and monetary donations to help pay off those debts.

The shelter has 180 dogs and 100 cats. Employees are hoping a large portion of these animals can be adopted or transferred to no-kill facilities before the shelter closes.

Kent County awarded Safe Haven management of the county’s Dog Control in June to last from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014. There is a termination provision in the contract, said County Administrator Michael Petit de Mange.

The county is expecting notice from Safe Haven by the end of the week to terminate the contract.

“Our goal is to provide high-quality, continuous dog control to our citizens,” Mr. Petit de Mange said. “Once we receive official notice, we will move to implement a new service.”

Kent County SPCA Executive Director Kevin Usilton said the facility would consider reapplying for the Dog Control contract.

“We don’t have a designated space currently set aside for dog control, but we do have the trained officers that would be needed,” he said.

The KCSPCA has four buildings and typically cares for about 250 animals. The facility currently has 310 but could potentially hold a maximum of 600.

“We haven’t entered in any talks with Safe Haven, but we do have the space to take on some of their animals,” Mr. Usilton said. “We do not euthanize any animals just to create space, so we would only take on what we could handle.”

The fates of the animals that are not adopted or taken by the KCSPCA before closing are unknown. Safe Haven is trying to send as many animals as possible to permanent homes or other no-kill shelters.

“This is a sad day for Delaware animals,” Mr. Usilton said. “It’s a shame for a shelter to go out of business for lack of resources. I hope this is an eye-opening experience for the state that more needs to be done to help these animals.”

Those interested in donating to Safe Haven or adopting a cat or dog can call 856-6460 or stop by the facility at 19022 Shingle Point Rd. in Georgetown.

Staff writer Ashton Brown can be reached
at or 741-8272
. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.