The Kent County Levy Court will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. tonight, July 30, to determine if Safe Haven will adequately fulfill the county's dog-control contract.
Safe Haven has been asking for public support for nearly two months to keep its doors open. Last week, half the staff was dismissed and three board members resigned.
Further evidence of problems surfaced this week when Safe Haven spokeswoman Lynn Lofthouse also said that when the shelter closed for the day July 27, acting executive director Cindy Woods and others loaded up the 86 cats in Safe Haven's care and took them to various rescue groups.
Lofthouse said the cats were removed without the board's knowledge, and while Woods was not officially dismissed, she is no longer with Safe Haven.
"When our staff and volunteers arrived, all the cats were gone," Lofthouse said. "Everyone was so upset. The board members were called."
Lofthouse said board members called the police, who questioned former board member Diane Meier of No-Kill Delaware and Woods. According to Lofthouse, Woods said that in her role as acting director, she relocated the cats.
Woods could not be reached for comment.
John Day, spokesman for Delaware State Police, said, "A trooper responded to the animal shelter July 28 after the theft was reported. He determined that the complaint was unfounded. There is no report, and we are not conducting an investigation."
According to online reports, cats were distributed to regional cat rescue groups, including Josie's Place in Millsboro.
"These small, podunk rescues cannot take care of cats like Safe Haven," Lofthouse said. "Yes, Safe Haven's been having trouble, too, but we have air conditioning; we publicize the animals and give them every chance to be adopted."
Lofthouse said donations are coming in to the facility. In addition, board members have asked former Executive Director Anne Gryczon, who was dismissed earlier this year, to write grants.
"We were hoping she would help us, but right now she is not," Lofthouse said. "We asked because we knew she would help us for free."
Dogs that have been housed at Safe Haven's expense in other kennels are expected to start arriving at Safe Haven this week. Temporary cages have been set up both inside and outside to house them.
"Having the dogs here will cut down on some of our bills," Lofthouse said.
Kent County Levy Court's special meeting is set for 7 p.m., Tuesday, July 30, in Dover to discuss the dog-control contract. Safe Haven Board President Lois Fargo will be giving a status report.
The meeting will be held in Room 203 at the Kent County Administrative Complex, 555 Bay Road, Dover.