Safe Haven Project planned for 2020 launch

EAST CENTRAL — The North East SPCA (NESPCA) and North East Outreach and Support Services (NEOSS) have their Safe Haven Project planned for a 2020 launch.

The Safe Haven Project is a program that allows the NESPCA to take in and care for domestic abuse companion animals for as long as it is needed free of charge to the victims of abusive relationships.

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“We’re going to be working alongside with NEOSS so when somebody needs to go into one of their shelters or reaches out to them that they need that assistance, their animal can come to us and stay with us for as long as they need to get back on their feet — free of charge for them,” said Kristy Mason, shelter manager at NESPCA.

She said, while she hasn’t been the one working with NEOSS directly, it’s been positive.

“We have the same goal, different species but kind of the same goal,” Mason said. “To get somebody in a safe and stable place.”

In a 2004 Canadian study, promoted by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, 56 per cent of pet-owning women seeking refuge in shelters reported that their abuser had threatened or had harmed their pet.

The animals taken in through the Safe Haven Program will typically be kept in the back of the Harry and Eve Vickar Shelter in Melfort.

“If there was any threat to the animal they would be in a safe area only we know about,” Mason said.

When the victim of the abusive relationship is in a stable place, they can come to the shelter and pick up their animal.

She said the next step for the program before it can launch is to finalize the budget, so they have an idea of how much should be set aside.

To keep the program going through the year at no charge to the victims, the NESPCA will be undertaking regular fundraisers.

“Always fundraisers,” Mason said. “We’re going to be putting on a lot of things to kick start our projects and keep them afloat.”

Recently the project received $3,000 in funding from Community Futures Newsask with their Challenge 4 Communities contest. The project had received the most public votes, earning them the funding.

“It feels really good to have so many people standing beside us with this because it is something that I’m very passionate about,” she said. “I think it’s something that’s really needed.”

Mason said this program won’t just help cats and dogs — much like the shelter, they are open to taking in snakes, turtles, rabbits, birds and other unique pets.

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