As recently as Nov. 13, Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary was still looking for a few good people to adopt dogs.
A day later, the Georgetown shelter was being guarded by Delaware State Police officers who allowed only authorized visitors into the shelter.
According to Jamie Werner, a former Safe Haven employee who went to the sanctuary to adopt two dogs, the police were called by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, who sent personnel to take care of the dogs after Safe Haven could no longer pay staff.
Officers told those who were not authorized to be at the shelter that they would be charged with trespassing if they did not leave.
Cpl. Gary Fournier said police were called in to keep the peace.
"We were initially called by someone at Safe Haven who said someone was trespassing," he said. Fournier said no arrests were made.
Gathered at the shelter were frustrated dog lovers such as Tacia McIlvaine, who had come to adopt two dogs, Barker and Wilton, both male American Staffordshire terriers. McIlvaine said she had spoken to and been authorized to take the dogs by Safe Haven board member Lynn Lofthouse. When she arrived to pick up the dogs Nov. 14, McIlvaine said the ASPCA would not allow her in.
“They didn’t tell anyone they were doing this today,” she said.
Werner was at the shelter to adopt a female pit bull named Jazzy and also was not allowed in. When he asked why he couldn’t adopt Jazzy, Werner said, he got very vague answers from ASPCA officials. He said he was concerned the remaining dogs at Safe Haven would be taken to kill shelters to be euthanized.
“It’s a shame because this place was built to protect these dogs from being killed,” Werner said.
Lisa St. Clair of No-Kill Delaware Alliance was at Safe Haven about 2:39 p.m. when the remaining Safe Haven dogs were loaded into vans to be taken away. When she questioned one of the officers onsite, the officer told her he did not know where the dogs were going. St. Clair said she thinks there were 17 to 20 dogs left at the shelter Nov. 14.
Lofthouse did not respond to calls for comment. Representatives from the ASPCA also did not return requests for comment.
Safe Haven will officially close Sunday, Dec. 1.