A few months ago, we were here in these pages to introduce you to Haven, our new Vashon nonprofit animal rescue and welfare organization, and the opening of Haven House, an innovative model designed to support animal care needs on the island.
At Haven, we hold a foundational belief that communities and the people within them are stronger when we support each other. To do our part, we developed our Haven Cares program to establish community-centric services providing animals and their human families with the resources they need to ensure the health and safety of their pets.
Core vaccinations are critical for the health of a dog or cat, saving millions of lives each year by preventing highly transmissible diseases like parvo in dogs and distemper in cats. Microchips also provide a lifesaving tool by allowing lost or displaced cats and dogs to be reunited with their human families. This is important for both indoor-only pets who may accidentally escape, or outdoor pets who become displaced, and for all pets in the event of an emergency situation.
One recent Haven experience underscores how important micro-chipping is. In February, a community member found a stray cat that had taken up living near their barn. We took the cat to the safety of Haven House, but this young male was scared and wanted more than anything to get back to wherever home was.
But he didn’t have a microchip, so we didn’t know where that was. After more than a month of putting up flyers, posting on social media and conducting direct outreach with neighbors in the area, Haven finally found the owner and reunited the family.
Sadly, most pets without microchips don’t have a tenacious rescue organization going the extra mile. And they miss out on that happy ending, causing immeasurable heartache for owners and the dog or cat that can’t be connected back to their lifelong home.
It is with all of the above in mind that Haven is formally kicking off a community-focused program designed to provide a direct pathway for free vaccinations to pet families experiencing financial hardship and free micro-chipping to all.
In addition to these services being financially out of reach for many community members, we know that getting a pet to a clinic or centralized event can be difficult, which creates a barrier for pet owners who may have physical or transportation limitations or who can’t take time off of a workday.
So, in true bold and innovative Haven style, we will be providing this service to Vashon community members who are experiencing financial or transportation challenges, in the comfort of their own homes.
Our kickoff to this program begins with services for the tenants of Vashon Household, from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 20 and 27, when Haven will visit each of the Vashon HouseHold properties to provide free in-home vaccinations and micro-chipping. Vaccinations will be performed by Dr. Larry Siegler of Vashon’s Animal Healing Center, with assistance, treats and TLC provided by Haven Volunteers.
Vashon HouseHold tenants can register for this free service by filling out a form at havenrescue.org/register. Tenants without computer access can register by calling us at 206-876-9652.
The Vashon HouseHold event is just the start of this lifesaving program work. Additional service dates will be held in upcoming months at targeted locations in the island community and will continue throughout the year. Additionally, a community member in need with kittens or young pups who are most at risk of distemper or parvo can contact us directly to coordinate immediate vaccination care.
While we are excited to announce the Vashon HouseHold dates and this program launch, our Haven Cares support services are comprehensive and don’t end with vaccinations and micro-chipping. We also offer free spay and neuter services for community members with financial barriers — including transportation to and from the clinic if needed.
Finally, because pet families should never have to choose between feeding themselves and feeding pets, we offer an on-demand Pet Food Bank service to regularly provide community members with cat or dog food at any time, with delivery provided if necessary.
We are honored to have the partnership of so many in the community as we put our boots on the ground to help pets and the people who love them, providing care to cats and dogs in need of new homes or interim housing, lost and found pet support — and now, this new work going directly to community members to provide support.
For more information on all of our program elements or to sign up for spay and neuter services or connect with us for food support — or to see the amazing pets we have that are looking for new forever homes, please visit our website at havenrescue.org.
Amy Carey is a co-founder of Haven, who wrote this commentary in collaboration with the organization’s other co-founders, Janet Evans, Kay Farris, Ann Graves and Lisa Peyer.