Fort Valley State University’s State Animal Facilities for Emergencies (SAFE) Center is the only facility in the state of Georgia that was built for the purpose of co-housing pets with their families while fleeing natural disasters (hurricanes, tropical storms and other wide-spread disturbances which lead to displacement of people and their animals). In addition to the official mission of the SAFE Center, it is utilized for a grant funded reduced cost clinic and to provide assistance with the medical needs of dogs being placed by various rescue groups.The SAFE Center has the capacity to hold 106 dogs, 80 cats or small dogs and 30 horses and is located on the premises of the Department of Veterinary Science and Public Health. Additional pasture lands are available for other livestock. Because the SAFE Center is located within a department that houses an academic, AVMA-accredited veterinary technology program, there is on-site medical and dental care available. The animals fall under the care of three veterinarians, four registered technicians, a full-time caretaker, 5 part-time Student workers and up to 120 student volunteers. To date, since its inception, the SAFE Center has been a haven for animals fleeing Hurricane Matthew and Superstorm Sandy as well as a place of respite for no less than 200 dogs waiting for adoption and placement in forever homes over the past 5 years. All animals that are placed with families are up-to-date on vaccines, dewormed, heartworm free and spayed or neutered – all at no cost to the new owners. Of these 200 dogs, approximately 50% are “seniors” of seven years or older.
A Grey Muzzle grant assists the Senior Dog Advocacy Program, a new SAFE Center program at Fort Valley State University.
This program supports the care of senior dogs presented to the SAFE Center by rescue groups striving to find forever homes for these animals, as a last-ditch effort to save them. The Senior Dog Advocacy Program will focus on providing healthcare and emotional support for senior dogs and will work to educate the local public on the joys and benefits of providing a forever home to a senior canine. They hope to assist an increased number of senior dogs have a comfortable and peaceful life.
This program will also serve as an educational outlet for their veterinary technician students to learn and put into practice the appropriate way to advocate for older animals, as well as approach various factors of geriatric medicine and animal care.