Rescue Done Right

For 25 years, SAFE Haven has helped cats land on their feet.

By Carol Wills / Photo courtesy of SAFE Haven

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I’m nobody, who are you? Are you nobody, too? The first line of Emily Dickinson’s poem floated into my mind when Pam Miller, president and CEO of SAFE Haven for Cats in Raleigh, took me on a tour of the enclosures holding new arrivals to the no-kill shelter. These cats have been rescued from county shelters or brought to the haven by members of the community who have found stray cats.

The little kittens without a name have landed nicely on their tiny paws. Miller and her volunteers will see that their immediate needs are taken care of—three nutritious meals a day, a clean, warm bed, all medical issues addressed, vaccinations and microchipping, and—best of all—a name. 

The first safe haven for cats, established in 1994 in Pam Miller’s garage, was for the purpose of rescuing 23 cats belonging to a neighbor. That same year SAFE Haven for Cats was incorporated, and expanded its efforts to save cats sent to county shelters to be euthanized. SAFE Haven welcomes cats from Wake, Franklin, Granville, and Harnett counties.

On average, the shelter has become responsible for the adoption of about 900 cats each year, and recently their total number of adoptions topped 10,300 cats. Miller is the dynamic force behind this effort, and she has inspired hundreds of people to volunteer to help care for these kitties. The shelter relies on 15 volunteers per day, seven days a week. Volunteers also serve as adoption counselors, and some pick up cats from the county shelters through the Tabby Cabby program. New volunteers are always welcome.

SAFE Care Clinic, a low- or no-cost clinic for the community, employs a full-time veterinarian to help cats get ready for adoption. The goal is to ensure that all cats are spayed/neutered and microchipped before being adopted. SAFE Haven is also home to a well-stocked food pantry and has given away 11 tons of food so far this year. 

The shelter extends its support around the globe, especially in the wake of natural disasters. “We partner with the [national] humane society,” says Miller. “When disaster strikes, we are on call for animals that need rescuing.” Following Hurricane Florence last year, SAFE Haven rescued 35 cats from Dare County, and flew in 17 cats from Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria struck.

All of these services are expensive to provide. SAFE Haven receives very little grant money, Miller reports, explaining: “There’s no state or county funding for private animal shelters, so we have to raise our own money.”

Two upcoming events are being planned to celebrate SAFE Haven’s 25th anniversary. On Friday, August 2nd, there will be an event called Catsino at the Amran Shriners Temple on Creedmoor Road in Raleigh. It will feature 10 casino tables, cat bingo, raffles, and refreshments. On Saturday, October 5th, SAFE Haven will host Catfest along with its 7th annual Run For Their Lives 5K. Entertainment will include cat yoga, an open house at the shelter, and special adoption fees.  

For more information, visit SafeHavenforCats.org or, better yet, see the adoptable cats in person at 8431-137 Garvey Drive, North Raleigh.