If you are an animal rescuer, you likely have a thankless job. Late nights, hard work and countless tears are part of the territory. Every shelter and community has different struggles, yet the volunteers, workers and board members we have met on our Adventure Of A Lifetime are more than happy and excited to do what they do. It was no different when we met Alison Kuder from Strayhaven Animal Shelter who is proud to serve on their board. It was a very hot and humid day in Pennsylvania to say the least. But for Alison, it was her chance to talk about the shelter she loves so much.
According to their website, “In the early fifties, there was no Strayhaven Animal Shelter. There was only a group of caring people, who rescued strays, keeping them in their homes until these pitiful dogs and cats were found loving homes. In 1960, this dedicated group decided it was impractical and impossible to keep all the animals in their homes, and Strayhaven Animal Shelter was built and Incorporated. A retired gentleman by the name of Perry Dehart, donated the land and his time to build the shelter. With help from concerned citizens and some government loans, the shelter was completed. From the beginning, the shelter was, and still is, privately run.”
As this shelter was hours away from our Pennsylvania camping location, Alison and her friend so graciously agreed to make the drive to US to talk about their cherished, small, community shelter. Strayhaven grabbed our attention and became our Pennsylvania rescue pick for a few different reasons. We started off by asking her a few questions for our latest episode of “Stop Hounding Me”!
As Alison mentions in the video, Strayhaven has a shelter program called C.A.R.E. Strayhaven has partnered with a local state prison. They send about 6-7 dogs at a time to be trained in basic obedience and they each live with an inmate 24/7 for 6-8 weeks. They do their best to have homes lined up for each dog before they graduate so the transition to their new forever homes is seamless and they retain all that they learned much easier. According to Alison, they have had a lot of success with this program and it really helps with their adoption numbers. The trainer they have hired to run the program works with the inmates and the dogs at the prison about once or twice a week. Not only do the dogs get socialization, but it helps with the inmates’ rehabilitation as well! What a special place Strayhaven is!
The shelter explains their many success stories. “We’ve adopted out 150-200 dogs and cats every year for the past three years. We average 129 dogs per year, 54 cats per year, 183 animals total per year. At least two former inmates have gone on to become professional dog trainers, with one of them founding Matt’s Mutts University! His demo dog is a former graduate of the training program as well. At least one C.A.R.E. graduate dog went on to become a therapy dog and visits the elderly in nursing homes, and I hear back from the adopters now and then about several of the former graduates who have adjusted well to their new homes. Brother and sister beagles, formerly known as Juno and Jaime, both went to training and learned some basic obedience that allowed them to become a perfect companion for their special needs human brother. Socks joined a pack of five (including another former C.A.R.E. graduate, Diesel), and Socks formed a special bond with her adopter’s older sister, who has health troubles. Most of the stories are not especially dramatic, but every single one is special, from the shy Fannie who failed the program but met her new mom at the prison, to Althea (still available for adoption!) who went from a complete Wild Child to a (still hyper!) well-mannered young dog. The C.A.R.E. program started when officials at SCI-Mercer contacted the shelter to set up a mutually beneficial training program. The inmates get job training, and the trained dogs are more likely to be adopted. (The adoption rate is almost 100%!) There are several similar programs throughout the state correctional facilities, including a similar program in Albion. Most of the dogs go to the program because they have lingered at the shelter or because they have minor behavioral programs, so it is a great opportunity for them to learn the skills needed to succeed in a new home.”
Their Facebook page is constantly updated with not only animals available for adoption, but success stories and community pleas for lost animals. The love for their community and their temporary residents, along with trying to make a difference for people in the prison system is beyond admirable. We can only imagine the wonderful things they have yet to accomplish but of course, as many shelters and rescues across our country, donations are sorely needed. According to the shelter, “We always need bleach, paper towels, and cat litter (both clay and scoopable). Right now we are trying to paint kennels, and because of the constraints of the space, we can only paint one or two kennels per day. Our volunteers are stepping up, but any new volunteers are definitely welcome to come out and spend an afternoon painting, walking dogs, or socializing cats.”
Find out how to help by donating, checking out their wishlist and see how you can help by volunteering or adopting. Strayhaven taught us that by making a difference for homeless animals, you are making a difference for people as well. And we thank Alison for caring enough to reach out to us, making the long drive with her two Strayhaven rescue dogs, and for bring beautiful Gerda, a 7 year old girl, as seen on our video.
Find all of their adoptable animals, events and other information on their website, www.strayhavenanimalshelter.com
Stray Haven Animal Shelter Inc.
94 Donation Road
Greenville, PA 16125