Alice lie in her bed alone, except for the quiet mass of fur with soft, round eyes of coal lying along side her body. This was her support and companionship to shadow her last days. Jasper was never demanding, yet totally present and focused on her every move. Unconditional love at its finest - the beauty and lessons from our furry friends.
We saw this often with our hospice patients. Sometimes pets were an integral part of the patient's emotional support team, and sometimes, the beloved pet was the sole emotional support team.
What was also happening was an incredible angst was developing as some patients came closer to dying. What would happen to their beloved pet? Would they be loved and cared for by other family members who with loving intention transitioned them into their households? Often the patient's pets were older and the transitioning families were young and already had a household of pets. And then, the greatest fear of some patients was their beloved pet would end up at a shelter feeling completely abandoned by them, or even worse, end up in an abusive or neglectful household.
One day, Alice, with Jasper at her side, called us in unexpectedly and asked us to set up euthanasia for Jasper within minutes after she would pass away. Jasper was not ill, but Alice's fear was overwhelming her. We tried to talk her out of it, as this lovely devoted friend still had many years of life in him. But in complete honesty, we could not guarantee Alice an outcome on her pet. A community veterinarian was contacted and agreed to hear her wishes. He came out of her room teary eyed, but understood her fears and that her decision was based on her love for Jasper. All the staff were feeling helpless to change the outcome, but our households were already brimming full with our own pets. What could we possibly offer Alice as a solution for Jasper?
From this angst, Safe Place for Pets was born. It would be a safe place for our patient's beloved pets and would be established with resources from PPHPC and the community. As always, our pet friendly community said yes, how can we help? All Breed Rescue, Humane Society of Pikes Peak Region, Junior League of CS, and veterinarians from the community offered assistance in this new arena for us. A new non profit was establish with wonderful community support.
The rest is history, a glorious history. We never looked back, as this was now our new promise to our patients. We love your pets, as though they are our own. We will honor you, and your wishes, by promising you that we will follow through by placing your beloved pet in only the most loving, caring, life long homes. We have honored that promise made long ago, because of the outstanding individuals who volunteer their time with commitment and love, both for the wonderful pets and the patient's who have come our way.
Footnote: Jasper was placed in a loving home and Alice passed away knowing this.
We compassionately serve terminally ill people through their pets.
Click on the slides below to view our entire vision and mission presentation.
2016 Board Members
President: Chelbye Field
Chelbye is a Colorado Springs native (born and raised), but currently lives in Fountain. She has found a passion in caring for special needs dogs and has raised a few of them herself. She currently has three dogs, Daisy, Rexy, and Skyler. Chelbye works as a Contracts Specialist at Community Health Partnership.
Vice President: Dennis Bagenstos
Dennis is the only SP4P board member who doesn't have a pet. I know, weird, right? But he loves animals and gets his fix by volunteering at the cattery and petting every dog he meets. He got involved in SP4P through Pikes Peak Hospice, and the combination of caring for the terminally ill and caring for their pets, really appealed to his passion for helping the vulnerable.
Secretary: Shandra Hatchett
Shandra has lived in Colorado Springs since 1991, and has worked at USAA Insurance since 1992. She is the mom to "Princess Ruthie", who is a registered Therapy Dog. Shandra and Ruthie used to do the Paws to Read, reading program through the Pikes Peak Library system, and the kids bereavement groups through Pikes Peak Hospice. It's through Pikes Peak Hospice that Shandra learned about Safe Place for Pets. Anything to do with animals tuggs at Shandra's heart strings. She has been involved with Safe Place for over 5 years. She loves to hike, work in her garden, read and do crafts.
Social Media Coordinator: Sandy Thornton
Sandy is a resident of Colorado Springs and has lived here since 2005. She loves the mountains, and enjoys hiking and camping. She lives with her boyfriend and their dogs, Tinka and Tuggles. She runs a Meetup Group for dog owners who love to do and go places that are dog friendly (hike, watch movies, eat at dog friendly restaurants, etc). She is a software tester, and has been working for Progressive Insurance for 28 years (and looks forward to many more).
Wellness Coordinator: April Hoskins
April shares her home in Manitou Springs with two mischievous cats. She is a big outdoor enthusiast and enjoys being a global traveler. For the past 16 years, April has worked at Keysight Technologies and most recently in her current role as US Operations Supply Chain Manager.
Member at Large: Joanne Bonicelli
Joanne is a retired hospice program director, nurse, and a founding member of Safe Place for Pets. She's an avid gardener, scrabble and Pickleball player and animal lover. She is committed to adopting senior Safe Place dogs and having them live out their life with her.
Canine Coordinator: Judi Brodil
Treasurer: Stephanie Campbell
Marketing Chair: Linda Pulman
Business Representative: Rick Gillit
In Memoriam: Paula Fischer
For 17 years Paula served as a foster, placement volunteer, treasurer, event cashier, finance chair, and board member. We miss you dearly. On behalf of the volunteers, past and present, and the hundreds of placed pets, we thank you for your many, many years of incredible service.
Open Board Positions:
- Strategic Planning
- Volunteer Coordinator
- Development Chair
It was started in 1995 by a hospice nurse who recognized a need. It became it’s own 501c3 in 1996 and is overseen by the Colorado Department of Agriculture.
We are funded through donations from the community and grants. Adoptions are by donations of $75 per cat and $200 per dog, with exceptions only by the Placement Coordinator. We have fundraising events and do an annual campaign each year. Over 85 cents of every dollar raised goes directly to caring for the pets.
We are a 100% volunteer organization with a Board of Directors from the community overseeing operations. Volunteers have key roles in the daily operations of Safe Place for Pets.
All pets are assessed to make sure they are healthy and behaviorally sound. Safe Place will make sure they are current on shots and appropriate for adoption. Surrenders are expected to pay for shots and spay/neuter if at all possible before the surrender.
Safe Place works with a network of volunteer fosters to provide a loving and safe environment for the pets until adoption. Some pets stay with their owners until adoption. When our fosters are full, we can place cats in the Safe Place Facility Cattery. We will pay to board up to two pets at a time when necessary.
We do a pet poster each month of available pets that is distributed to poster sites all over town. We advertise in the Independent and any other publications we feel are beneficial. We also have posts on Facebook, Twitter and our website, www.safeplacepets.org.
Go to www.safeplacepets.org and email us through there or call 719-359-0201 and a volunteer will contact you within 24 hours.
Potential adopters fill out an application. A placement volunteer contacts them to set up a meet & greet for them to meet the pet and for Safe Place to explain our program. The pet can go to their home for a 1 week visit where we take a deposit and they keep the pet. This helps all decide if the placement is right. At the end of that time, the placement volunteer decides if the adoption should go through.
We have a special grant for seniors through LexisNexis. If the senior is an appropriate adopter, we can use money from this grant to assist them.
We will take any appropriate pet. We have placed cats, dogs, birds, fish, bunnies, etc.
No, but we can refer them to kennels and pet sitting services.
We use the guidelines of Medicare to determine a terminal illness and may request a doctor's note to verify.
We have a new Wellness Program that serves pet owners who are terminally ill, in keeping their pets healthy. We offer vet visits, grooming, food, exercise, errands, and more to assist the pet and owner. They do not need to surrender the pet to us, but must complete an assessment and a contract with a Wellness program volunteer.
Through donations of needed items, money or volunteer time. Contact us! We have lots of ways you can help us. Let's chat to see what fits your life best.
You must fill out the application and have a site visit before the pet goes to your home. Our placement volunteers will make every effort to speed the process along. Since we are all volunteers, it may take a day or two.
Work at our store or cattery, foster, put up posters, run errands, assess pets, and represent us at events. We have many administrative duties that can be done from home as well. We will work with your schedule and skills to make the proper fit.