One difference between cats and dogs you may not know is that cats wait until warmer weather to have kittens, whereas dogs tend to be year-round breeders. So if a cute, little furry kitten is in your future, now is a great time to stop by The Haven in Fairhope.
The Haven is a local nonprofit animal shelter that works hand-in-hand with local animal control shelters to place dogs and cats in good homes. I sat down with Kasey Cotten, the Office Manager at The Haven, to learn more about how they work to find forever homes for the animals they board and care for.
Kasey, who is from Mobile but has lived in Fairhope since she was 20, says The Haven is the first no-kill animal shelter in Baldwin County. "We rescue, rehabilitate and find loving homes for homeless animals in the area."
The late Teressa Marshall, a local veterinarian, founded this organization to help homeless animals in the community. She noticed that treatable conditions were causing too many strays to be euthanized and wanted to use her skills to make a difference.
By treating strays at her private practice and placing them into loving homes, her mission became so popular that she ran out of room in her office. In 2000, she established a nonprofit, which has since been able to save an increasing number of animal lives each year.
The Haven makes it easy for those in the market to adopt a rescue. The adoption process is all online at Havenforanimals.org. When you see a pet you would like to adopt, click on the pet’s name, and there is an application to complete. Adoption coordinators receive the applications in real-time and start the approval process immediately.
Matching a pet with a proper home includes questions like, "Does the dog need a large area to run, a fenced yard, or is it a 'lap-dog' that can be inside a lot?" Kasey says it's an efficient process. "We want to provide a home that best matches both the dog and the pet owner. Our biggest priority is that the dog is going to be loved and cared for."
"All adopted pets are dewormed, receive flea treatment, are microchipped, spayed or neutered, and heartworm tested." (If a dog is heartworm positive, that treatment is covered by The Haven). Kasey tells me that most dogs that have been treated for heartworms tend to lead healthy lives. She emphasized that heartworm treatment is costly to owners and one of the top ten reasons dogs are abandoned. What’s the solution? Heartworm Preventative.
The cost of adopting a dog is $175. This includes all of the treatments mentioned above, a sample bag of Hill Science Diet dog food, leashes, and collars from overstock donations from pet stores. "You get a bunch of goodies with your adoption," she says.
Cat adoptions are $125, and because they have kittens in the spring and summer, The Haven works diligently to prepare them for adoption as quickly as possible. "We get an overwhelming number of stray kittens this time of year. Many times, they are 'neonates' and must be bottle-fed because they don't have mothers to feed them. We rely on fosters to help feed and care for them for 4 to 6 weeks until they are ready to adopt when they return to the shelter."
The Haven also maintains a strong volunteer program within the community. They streamline the volunteer process by making the volunteer interest forms readily available on their website, havenforanimals.org. Once you are on the homepage of their website, just click on the programs tab and locate the "Volunteer" drop-down. It will prompt you to complete a volunteer interest form and start the process. Their team currently consists of over 200 robust and devoted volunteers whose skill sets are leveraged throughout the agency to make the most significant impact in the community.
So, how is The Haven supported? “We are supported through the kindness of others, grants, and fundraisers. Donations to The Haven help save the lives of homeless animals in your community, just like Maddie, a 3-year-old German Shepherd mix who came to us lonely and afraid with her four puppies in tow. Maddie needed love and nourishment so that she and her puppies could thrive.”
The Haven’s lifesaving crew got to work immediately, ensuring this little family got the medical care and TLC they needed before placing them into life-long homes. None of this could have been done without the support of the community.
If you want to be part of the No-Kill solution, you can make a tax-deductible donation online through their website or by mail at PO Box 1063 Fairhope, AL 36533. No donation is too small and will make a world of difference in the lives of these helpless animals. Monthly donors, however, give the organization a much-needed sense of stability.
By knowing they can count on your donation every month, The Haven can confidently budget to care for animals coming in with more severe medical issues, such as broken bones and heartworms.
Thank you, Kasey, for an enlightening experience, and thanks to all the folks involved at The Haven for the work you do to find good homes for shelter animals. We are deeply grateful to all the pet adopters and donors who offer second chances to as many abandoned dogs and cats as possible.