Pet Rescue Program Shuts Up Shop


1 comment


Since 2003, victims of abuse who flee their homes have had a friend in Safety for Animals and Families in Emergencies. SAFE was founded by past victims of domestic abuse, who tended to notice how morons who beat people are way more likely to beat Barkley too.

The concept was simple: When abuse victims would check in to shelters, intake workers there would notify SAFE if pets had been left behind. SAFE would then rescue the animals and hook them up with new homes, often with the assistance of the Animal Protective League.

With no home office, SAFE has always operated on a shoestring budget, relying on small grants to pay for vet bills and supplies. But mostly, volunteers did the heavy lifting — and those volunteers have been in short supply. That’s why SAFE was pinched out of existence late this summer.

The problem, says former coordinator Leslie Gentile, is that staff in domestic-violence and animal-rights fields — the main folks who care about SAFE’s efforts — are “overworked and overwhelmed” with their own paid jobs.

Compounding their woes, local APL shelters are already at maximum capacity, according to executive director Sharon Harvey. It seems that pets from violent households take a backseat these days to the new flavor of the decade: pets left behind in foreclosed homes.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.