Safe Haven sanctuary aims to make Delaware a no-kill state
Green building on track for fall completion
Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary is scheduled to open its doors this fall to cats and dogs in need. The no-kill animal sanctuary is currently constructing a 19,500-square-foot facility on a 13-acre parcel of land in Georgetown. The nonprofit is funded through adoption fees, grants and the public’s generosity through donations. It was modeled after Best Friends, a no-kill shelter in Utah.
“It’s very animal-centered,” said Executive Director Anne Gryczon. “Even a lot of the new buildings – animal shelters that are being built – are still a little too human oriented. This is very animal oriented. The purpose is to have as much space [as possible] for the animals. It’s all room-based, rather than cage-based, making them as comfortable as possible.”
The sanctuary will be able to house up to 400 cats and dogs at a time, and Gryczon estimated approximately 2,000 could be helped each year. It will have both dog and cat wings, as well as a state-of-the-art veterinary facility for the animals. A “free spirit” dog area will offer a way for dogs that need to be socialized or re-socialized to stay in the shelter for an extended period of time.
The building, designed by “green” architect David Quillin, is being built to be as energy-efficient as possible.
“In accordance with Safe Haven’s philosophy, they wanted as green a building as possible,” Quillin said. “They wanted to treat the environment with the same attitude that they treat the animals.”
He noted that the facility includes a lot of passive solar design, so the sun can be kept out in the summer, while the facility will have as much solar gain as possible in the winter months.
“We did that by sort of stretching the building components, so they’re long and thin and all face due south. With overhangs on the south-facing side, we can then control wind gain,” he explained.
The facility is organized around a courtyard with deciduous trees – a buffer zone, in a sense, so that in the summertime that area will be cooler than the outside temperature around the building. In the winter, it will collect the solar heat and be warmer.
The shell of the building is also designed to be as energy-efficient as possible, with 2-by-5-foot walls and blown-in cellulose insulation. There will even be a green roof, as 50 percent of the roof will be vegetative. There will also be picnic tables and little paths, so that the animals and staff may enjoy the vegetation and views, as well.
The building will also have a highly efficient lighting system, with daylight sensors and occupancy sensors, as well as CFLs and LED lights. It will even have dual-flush toilets.
Quillin predicted that the building will be LEED-Certified Silver and added that the payback for any initial costs for green features, such as the vegetative roof, will have been paid back in less than 10 years.
“I think it will probably save about 35 to 40 percent in operating costs over a conventional building of the same size. In terms of payback, the cost to do most of these things is not any higher than normal.
“Nothing is frivolous. It’s not that we just want a pretty building or anything of that nature; everything has a purpose to it. People want it to be environmentally sound,” said Gryczon.
Quillin added that, through design, the building will last for a century — yet another green component.
“Since Safe Haven will be here, owning and operating the building, for 100 years, it’s sort of a win across the board to do these things. A big part of being green is being durable. If it doesn’t last, then it doesn’t matter how energy efficient it is. It’s very heavily built. It’s a lot of metal roofing, siding, concrete slab on grade; it’s really going to be bulletproof to go the duration.”
While the sanctuary is being completed, Safe Haven is continuing with their core programs, focusing on spay/neuter programs for barnyard and feral cats, local fostering and adoptions, their medical program and pet food pantry, through which they feed more than 500 cats each month.
“This is the purpose of the building, to do this in a more organized and in a larger fashion,” said Gryczon.
The organization also has a Life Preserver Dog Program, in which they send homeless dogs to no-kill shelters in New England, to be adopted to families there, as most shelters within Delaware do euthanize animals.
“There aren’t that many puppies available in Delaware, so things are starting to slowly improve,” she said, “and our hope is that, in a few years, we’ll have to start importing dogs, because we won’t have enough dogs, with spay/neuter efforts, adoption efforts and transport efforts. It’d be a very good problem to have. It’s very much a domino effect to come.”
Gryczon said the organization will continue to advocate for no-kill shelters and noted that progress is slowly starting to be made on the issue, as Delaware was the second state to pass a shelters standards bill.
“It increases the likelihood of sheltered animals going out to rescue, being adopted,” she said. “The hope is for Sussex County to be a no-kill county for cats and dogs, and for Delaware to be a no-kill state for cats and dogs.”
For more information, to volunteer or donate, visit www.safehavensanctuary.com or call (302) 856-6460.