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Sixty-four: That’s the percentage of dogs that are euthanized each year at shelters due to overcrowding. Then again, it’s probably not. That number was calculated in 1997 (the last time a comprehensive study was done) and based on participating shelters. How many shelters are going to raise their hands and jump up and down to proclaim how many animals pass through the pearly gates when they pass through their doors. When they say, “Our shelter is like Heaven.” I’m not sure that’s what they intend to mean.
In steps Harley’s Haven. A misnomer by no means; it is aptly named after one of founder (Beth Mehaffey’s) many four-legged creatures. Harley’s Haven has established relationships with four high-kill shelters (meaning they euthanize for space) and work along side them to take puppies out of a situation that may lead to their extermination and places them into a loving home. The shelters they pull from are located in Philadelphia, one in West Virginia and two in South Carolina. They are overrun and need more assistance getting the dogs out to give them a chance. Beth then selects a small group of dogs to bring back and adopt out. They are often from the same litter – a handful of playful puppy siblings. She looks for ones that have been there longer. They are more at risk of euthanasia. She also looks for ones that have injuries or medical needs as the Haven is equipped to assist these dogs.
After the dogs are selected they are transported to Harley’s Haven. Volunteers will donate a Saturday to drive down to South Carolina and back. Beth says, “It’s exhausting to do it, but rewarding knowing you’re the puppies ride the freedom.” Other means of delivery involve halfway meet-ups or even a relay transport that’s broken up into 1 – 2 hour shifts.
Upon arrival, some of these pups reside in the foster homes of loving volunteers. Others reside at the Skippack Animal Hospital until they are adopted out. The ones at the Hospital are visited regularly by volunteers for the task of preparing them for a home. Volunteers socialize them (a.k.a, play with them. I know. It’s brutal work.). Some work on training the basics and others help out with the pups at “meet and greets” in the community. This is where the public has an opportunity to learn more about the dogs and Harley’s Haven.
Finally, someone comes along that just can’t live without one of those furry faces and commits to being a forever home. However, the shelter does provide a trial period for adoptees to ensure the pup and persons are a good fit. The fees to adopt are minimal in comparison to breeder charges and provide such essentials as vaccines and chipping among other necessities.
Above are images from a recent meet and greet at Pet Valu in Norristown. I had the pleasure of hanging out with six puppies and six volunteers – all enthusiastic to share about the Haven and find a forever home. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday: knee deep in kisses and fur.