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After two years of operating as a foster-based rescue, Safe Haven Humane Society and Outreach Center successfully signed the lease on a new space that will serve as a full-service animal shelter and community pet pantry. The organization will operate out of 991 N. Military Avenue in Howard.

“The new space will help us fill gaps in service for homeless pets in our community,” said the group’s founder Leigh Ann Wagner Kroening. “Not only will we be able to take in more pets who need help finding their forever families, but now we also have a place for struggling pet owners to come for assistance.”

The new building is not the only big news for the organization. The group also has decided to add a doing business as (DBA) name and over the next few months will fully transition its operations to Haven Animal Rescue and Community Outreach.
Board President Jamie Lotto said the new name more accurately reflects the organization’s work and sets it apart from other rescues in the community.

“We’ve never really been a humane society,” Lotto said. “Our slogan is ‘Not Your Ordinary Shelter’ and Haven Animal Rescue and Community Outreach is a name that is more reflective of the rescue work we do and the services we provide to people and pets in our own area.”

As if a new building and new name aren’t enough to keep the rescue busy, for the third year in a row, the organization also was selected to participate in the Michelson Found Pets Saving Animals Challenge. The fundraising campaign is for animal shelters, rescue groups, and spay/neuter clinics from around the country that will compete for $250,000 in grants toward programs that expand lifesaving capacity in their communities. The campaign launched May 1st and runs through May 31st.

This year participating organizations have been divided into two tiers broken up by operating budget. Since Safe Haven Humane Society is a grassroots organization run completely by volunteers, it is competing in Tier 2 with the smaller organizations. The seven top teams in Tier 2 at the end of the challenge will earn cash prizes from $2,000 to $25,000, and there are an additional $35,000 in prizes for weekly bonus challenges.

Wagner Kroening said all the money raised during the Saving Pets Challenge will go directly toward making the new shelter space the perfect home for the homeless pets in the rescue’s care.

“Since our organization is completely run by volunteers, we don’t have to spend our precious dollars on salaries or benefits,” she said. “Of course, a new building brings with it some expenses. We will have rent and utilities, but more importantly we need extra dollars to create a comfortable living environment for the dogs, cats, and critters who will be calling the shelter home while they wait for their forever families.”

Wagner Kroening said the organization is fundraising to fence the spacious outdoor play yard, as well as to outfit the large dog kennels with beds, toys, and spill-proof dishes. Every pet that comes into rescue also gets a wellness check, and most pets need some type of vet care, she said.

“We have a busy month ahead of us getting the new building ready and fundraising for a variety of needs, but we can’t wait to open the doors and welcome our community inside,” she said.

For more information about Haven Animal Rescue and Community Outreach and the Saving Pets Challenge, visit

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