Jim Willis Appeals For Help For North Carolina No-Kill Shelter in Danger of Being Closed

Many of you are familiar with Jim WIllis' moving essay about an abandoned dog, "How Could You?" I'm interviewing Jim next week for the Dog...

Friends for Life Logo

Many of you are familiar with Jim Willis’ moving essay about an abandoned dog, “How Could You?” I’m interviewing Jim next week for the Dog Blog but in the mean time I just got this direct appeal for help for the shelter he assists. Its kind of a long post but its so important.

Save The Dogs By Saving The Haven Shelter

Pieces of My Heart cover

As a personal favor to me, please take a few minutes out of your busy schedule to read the below, visit the website for The Haven, and participate in the campaign to save this valuable resource for animals. Please cross-post and distribute wherever you can.

North Carolina ranks third in the USA in number of animals killed by “humane authorities.” The gas chamber is the method of choice to murder animals in many NC counties.

North Carolina’s largest, most successful no-kill shelter, Friends for Life at The Haven, was founded in 1996 by Linden & Steve Spear. Since then it has provided safe haven to over 15,000 animals, adopted out over 10,000 animals, spays/neuters close to 4,000 animals per year, and currently houses about 1,000 animals. It is located on a 160-acre farm in Raeford, NC.

The NC legislature has passed amendments to NC’s Animal Welfare Act and all private shelters must be in compliance by June 30, 2006, or they could be shut down. The State’s Department of Agriculture is responsible for insuring compliance (which begs the usual question, since when are dogs and cats livestock or an agricultural product?)

The changes in the AWA are so sufficiently vague and poorly thought out that one wonders why a “grandfather” clause wasn’t introduced to protect the private facilities which have limped along filling the void for animal welfare that the State has such a poor record in.

The Haven employs local people, spends over $300,000 per year in the local economy, and has greatly eased the burden on any animal control facility in its region. How does the State intend to make up for the shortfall in dealing with the local animal population explosion – immediately update and expand animal control facilities paid for by taxpayers? (Some government run facilities would not be considered to be “in compliance” with the new regulations that private shelters are expected to meet.)

Haven pets
It would take about $1 million to bring The Haven in compliance with some of the new regulations which should be open to dispute. (Here’s a newsflash: Dogs like to roll in the dirt, chew on grass and pee on trees – not be forced to walk on boiling hot concrete and gravel. Here’s another newsflash: Toy breed and small dogs cannot jump a 4 or 5 ft. high fence, so why do they need one “6 ft. high or higher”?)

The Haven and the rest of us are just as concerned, probably more concerned, with sanitation, animal health, animal and public safety. The State of NC could make better use of its time and resources by going after the bad guys (e.g. puppymills and backyard breeders who don’t pay sales tax/report the income and who keep animals in deplorable circumstances) and should leave the good guys alone.

Elected officials should also remember that we pay taxes and vote our conscience.


Please read the explanatory letter from The Haven’s co-founder and executive director, Linden Spear:

Visit this page at The Haven website and contact your legislators through the link provided (non-NC residents can write to them too!) There are other links and phone numbers there, and I am putting some suggested contacts in the following.

If you are a North Carolina resident, please sign the petition at:

E-mail NC Governor Michael F. Easley and send an email to Lieutenant Governor Beverly Perdue (pictured with her dogs on the Lt. governor’s website) at ltgovernor@ncmail.net.

Send a message to Steve Troxler, commissioner of the NC Dept. of Agriculture through this link. Email Dr. C.F. Kirkland director of the NC Dept. of Agriculture Veterinary Division at this email address — fred.kirkland@ncmail.net. Note the addresses for Perdue and Kirkland are NOT hotlinks.

Contact the newspaper local to The Haven, The Fayetteville Observer at all of the following addresses:
Executive editor Brian Tolley, tolleyb@fayettevillenc.com
Letters to the Editor, e-letters@fayettevillenc.com
Newsroom, news@fayettevillnc.com
and contact any other NC media, both print and broadcast!

Please ask all of the above to do whatever it takes to insure The Haven and other similar shelters are not shutdown. Instead of being able to concentrate on their mission – saving animals – they have had to devote time, energy, and finances to stave off this threat from the State they love and have tried to help. (In my dreams the State will give them the money to get in compliance with any of the regulations that make sense.)

Please explore The Haven website. Consider donating to them, see what kinds of supplies they need; if you’re local to them, consider volunteering or adopting one of their beautiful animals.

Tell Linden & Steve Spear, their volunteers and staff, how much we appreciate their efforts for animals, and how much we support them and will work to keep The Haven open and thriving:
(If you have a really good idea or offer, call Linden, 910-977-5752.)


Beside the fact that this has to do with animals who can’t speak for themselves, anything we do for animals legislatively and legally sets important precedents on their behalf. Being uninformed, misguided, shortsighted, ineffective, some times downright cruel (e.g. gas chambers) is not the exclusive territory of North Carolina, and your favorite no-kill effort in your state/your country (yes, this is going international) could be the next victim. Please don’t rely on everyone you forward this to to take care of it – your direct participation is needed.

I, the animals, and The Haven, will all appreciate your efforts.

Jim Willis

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