Sierra’s Haven starts new fundraiser to keep lights on, continuity of services at risk

Board members, volunteers and employees of Sierra’s Haven for New and Used Pets have been reevaluating the way the lights stay on, concluding that they need to ensure continuity of support to serve the community at the same rate and services.

This realization comes after continuous struggles to deal with low funding and basic survival. The organization has reached a realization that monthly support needs to be a factor in sustainability.

Most people might not realize that Sierra’s Haven does more than take in homeless pets.

“Nearly every day, people bring us sick or injured stray pets that we take in, care for, and rehabilitate until they are ready for adoption,” Dr. Gail Counts said. “We do this as a service to the community and rarely are reimbursed for the cost of medical care given these pets.”

Many cats and dogs are left for adoption and many more are dumped. A large portion of these animals require extensive care before they can be adopted out.

“We are determined to continue to provide this service to our community and our homeless pet population,” Counts said. “However, to do this we need a sustainable monthly income we can count on.”

After meetings to discuss the future of services and sustainability of the organization, the agency board has come up with a final option that they hope will keep them sustained, and without problems, from here out.

The organization has launched a fundraiser they are calling the Save our Shelter Campaign, 2016 Monthly $10,000 Cash Prize Giveaway.

They will be selling 1,000 tickets for $20 each per month. Buyers must commit to pay $20 each month, preferably by signing up on their website for recurring donations using major credit card or PayPal or by paying 6-12 months in full.

Each ticket has a 3-digit number, beginning with 000 thru 999, and that ticket number will be your number for the entire year.

“We have a calendar of prizes posted on our website for each month,” Linda Cottle, board member of Sierra’s Haven explained. “Beginning Jan. 1, and continuing all 365 days of 2016, winners will be determined each day by the Ohio Lottery Mid-Day Pick 3. Daily prizes range from $100 to $2,500 each month. Once all the tickets are sold, this fundraiser will raise $10,000 monthly for Sierra’s Haven and we will give away $10,000 each month to lucky participants.”

The drawing is to entice people to donate, while giving them the opportunity to earn something back.

The organization will rely on this as its only form of fundraising; outside of its annual yard sale.

All funds raised will go to sustain the organization, so that they can continue to serve animals in need. Some of the circumstances can be severe and cost the facility a bit of money.

In August, someone left a mother dog and her puppy in their parking lot. They both had mange and worms, and the puppy, now named Dexi, had an injured eye. They required several weeks of medical treatment before moving to the adoption area.

In November, a stray hound mix was brought to them. He had been attacked by another dog and had a large, gaping wound under his neck. He, now named Rex, required hospitalization and extensive wound care. He is now happy and healthy.

In October, Toby, a red heeler mix, was left with them after being hit by a car and found on the road. He had a fractured femur and his front leg had sustained a degloving injury in which the skin and tissue overlying a joint had been sheared off. He required extensive daily wound care and bandaging and his fracture had to be repaired with a pin inside the bone.

In October, Breezie, a shih tzu mix, was left at the shelter in October with severe skin disease. She had demodectic and sarcoptic mange, as well as yeast pyoderma, leaving her with almost no hair. She required weeks of injections, antibiotics, and daily baths just to get her to a point that she was comfortable in her own skin.

Arrowsmith, a cat, was treated for having an arrow through the chest. Vets removed the arrow, treated him back to good health and found his owner weeks later.

Most recently, a person dumped a total of 30 cats that were crammed into two pet carriers. They were already over capacity and the cats were nearly half of what they are allowed to have total. Those cats all had to be tested for leukemia, vaccinated and treated for fleas, which cost them hundreds of dollars.

“People don’t even think about this when they dump animals on our doorstep,” Dr. Gail Counts explained. “These are just a few examples of what Sierra’s Haven does nearly every day of the week, every month of the year. It amounts to thousands of dollars in veterinary bills, and we typically only receive a small donation for their care, leaving us struggling to pay our bills.”

Dr. Counts said that Sierra’s Haven is always struggling to survive, but it is something the volunteers and employees feel committed to.

“We do this community service because it is part of our mission, and we have resolved never to turn down injured stray animals,” Dr. Counts said.

While the shelter finds homes for the pets, or attempts to move them via Rescue Waggin’, they keep many for extended periods.

Dr. Counts is serious about providing medical attention to every animal that they serve and refuses to cut corners to save a penny. She explained that people don’t often understand why they cannot take more or why adoption fees cost what they do.

According to their numbers, it costs Sierra’s Haven over $25,000 a month to operate. The shelter explains that they’ve seen a decline in grant opportunities in the past two years of between $60,000 – $80,000.

“This has made it harder and harder for us to keep our doors open,” Dr. Counts said. “We have very few volunteers at the shelter, causing us to have to hire more employees. We still only have 9, and we need, but cannot afford, to hire more. Besides payroll, we have rising utilities, veterinary and surgical supplies, dog and cat food, cleaning supplies, sanitation, water bills and propane. We spay and neuter every pet before it gets adopted to help with our goal of curbing the over population of stray pets in our community. Veterinarians volunteer their services, but Sierra’s also vaccinates, provides flea and tick prevention, tests for and administers heartworm prevention to dogs, tests for feline leukemia in cats, treats illnesses and provides food and shelter to over 140 cats and 80 to 100 dogs daily. These costs can be staggering.”

Sierra’s Haven for New and Used Pets is at 80 Easter Drive, Portsmouth. Someone can be reached by phone at 740-353-5100. They operate 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

The monthly tickets are available on their website at, or by visiting Sierra’s Haven or Shawnee Animal Clinic.

The shelter expresses the need for this program to work, stating that it is instrumental in continuity of services.

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Joseph Pratt | Daily Times
Dave Gowdy playing with a new kitten and getting it adjusted to being handled more Pratt | Daily Times
Dave Gowdy playing with a new kitten and getting it adjusted to being handled more

Joseph Pratt | Daily Times
Damon Blevins cleaning a kitten kennel Pratt | Daily Times
Damon Blevins cleaning a kitten kennel

Joseph Pratt | Daily Times
Melissa K Stiltner cleaning a cat room and preparing a bed for one of the guests. Pratt | Daily Times
Melissa K Stiltner cleaning a cat room and preparing a bed for one of the guests.

Joseph Pratt | Daily Times
Dave Gowdy giving attention to his favorite dog who needs a home. Pratt | Daily Times
Dave Gowdy giving attention to his favorite dog who needs a home.

By Joseph Pratt

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Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.