Save Haven Animal Sanctuary outside Georgetown won the Kent County dog-control contract in June, and the still unopened shelter plans to work toward getting the Sussex contract as well.
“It might be two or even five years down the road, but I do think we will bid on it,” said Safe Haven Executive Director Anne Gryzcon.
On Tuesday, June 26, Kent County Levy Court voted unanimously to approve Safe Haven’s $827,592 contract. Levy Court commissioners had tried for the past month to reach an agreement with Kent County SPCA, which had held the contract for the previous year.
Kent County Administrator Mike Petit de Mange said June 27 was the deadline for the county to reach an agreement with Kent County SPCA. Petit de Mange said Kent County faced having no dog control as of midnight on June 30, which forced officials to seek a new contract with Safe Haven.
Petit de Mange said he had been in discussion with Safe Haven for two weeks, during which he visited the Georgetown facility and toured the 20,000 square foot, LEED-certified green building. He did express concern that Safe Haven’s facility is outside Kent County, but Gryzcon plans to remedy that by purchasing a building in southern Dover.
On July 10, Gryzcon was in the midst of negotiating a deal on a warehouse in the Little Creek area of Dover. She said the building would need to be retrofitted for kennel space, but she thinks it will serve as a great location for a Safe Haven satellite office.
Stray dogs would wait the mandatory 72 hours to five days at the satellite kennel so they could easily be reunited with their Kent County family. After five days, the dogs go up for adoption, and either remain at the Kent County kennel or are taken to the Georgetown facility, depending on the dog’s needs, Gryzcon said.
“Our goal is to have stray pets reunited with their owners,” she said. “If no owner is found, then we want to get the dog adopted as soon as possible.”
The contract allows Safe Haven to:
• Provide medical care for all animals that need it, paid for by Safe Haven; with emergency medical care or surgery to be paid for by Kent County
• Reunite stray dogs with owners
• Operate clinics to spay female dogs, especially pit bull-type dogs
• Purchase air-conditioned cargo vans for transporting animals
• Open a dog food pantry in Kent County
Gryzcon said Safe Haven would honor the contract at the same price for the second year if Kent County officials decide they want to continue with Safe Haven.
“I feel like our contract was very fair, and Kent County agreed,” Gryzcon said.
For now, Safe Haven officials are focusing on getting set up to handle dog control in Kent, she said. A job fair to staff the southern Dover satellite facility is set for 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 17 at the Kent County Levy building. Safe Haven is looking for licensed vet techs, dog control staff, kennel staff and an intake/adoption coordinator. Safe Haven is also still looking for licensed vet techs for the Georgetown facility.
The no-kill philosophy
Gryzcon’s office is a testament to her passion and conviction for no-kill animal shelters. Stacks of papers pertaining to the Kent County dog-control contract sit on a sparse table mingling with real estate listings for warehouse space outside Dover.
In bounds a loveable Chow mix, Grizzly, a shelter dog that Gryzcon has fallen in love with. The walls around Gryzcon’s office are rubbed and discolored, a testament that Griz was there. Gryzcon said her fluffy officemate can be shy at first, but with some attention, he blossoms into a fun-loving ball of fur with a great smile.
Gryzcon hopes all animals staying at Safe Haven receive the same kind of attention as Griz while they are there.
She believes the no-kill philosophy can work in Delaware, but she knows it will be challenging to find homes for so many animals. She hopes by having the Kent County dog contract, Safe Haven can provide a kind middleman between pet owners and the shelter.
She hopes her passion for the no-kill philosophy extends to all Safe Haven employees. In an effort educate new employees on no-kill, 11 of Safe Haven’s employees and board members traveled to Best Friends, an animal rescue in Utah. Best Friends has made the no-kill philosophy work for many years.
Safe Haven is currently not accepting any feral cats, unless the cats have been abused or they have an impairment that makes it impossible for their survival in a feral colony. Safe Haven does accept cats whose guardians have passed away. For now, Safe Haven is housing a handful of dogs and about the same number of cats. All of the animals are up for adoption at the Georgetown facility.
The Safe Haven shelter is slated to open mid-August in Georgetown, but for now residents can make appointments to adopt animals by calling 302-856-6460.