GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – A day given to Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary, customers can walk and play with the resident cats of the shelter.
All cats are adoptable.
They are also all a little different.
“I just wanted to have a place the cats could go instead of being euthanized when they had a disability or a special need,” said Elizabeth Feldhausen, founder of Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary.
It all started when Feldhausen’s cat was partially paralyzed. He was told putting him down was the best option.
“He was still enjoying life and purring, he just needed help getting around,” she told Local 5.
She therefore took matters into her own hands. “I rehabilitated him myself and I was quite young at the time,” Feldhausen said, “and in six months he was back to being a normal cat.”
Seeing firsthand what some TLC might do for a cat with special needs gave Feldhausen an idea.
“I kind of saw a need in the community, a place where cats could go instead of being euthanized when they had a disability or a special need,” she explained.
Originally located in a smaller space in De Pere, Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary’s first location opened in December 2016.
It turns out that Feldhausen was right about the need for a disabled shelter.
“We kept getting more and more calls to take cats from owners or other shelters who didn’t have the resources or the time to care for them, where their only other option was. euthanasia, “she said,” and before we knew it we had more cats than we could handle in our small location.
Since opening in 2018, the sanctuary has become its location in downtown Green Bay.
At the same time, Feldhausen grew in his role.
“We got so big so quickly, and I’m not a boss,” she said, “It was just me and a few friends running it. [I] had to quickly learn how to staff and have a bigger business.
She focused on developing new skills and learning to use existing ones.
“I was working in social media before I started Safe Haven, so that’s always been my special thing,” Feldhausen said.
Feldhausen’s “special thing” is what put Safe Haven on the international map.
In September 2018, she posted photos of “Cat Grandpa Terry” dozing with some of the cats at the shelter.
The post quickly went viral.
“I’ve received emails from England and Portugal from every other place you can think of,” Terrence Lauerman, the so-called “Grandpa Cat,” told Local 5, “saying that they had seen the photo on the internet, so it was quite surprising that she spread this quickly.
More than 45,000 Facebook users follow the Safe Haven page, a lasting effect of the post featuring Lauerman.
“We have people all over the world following us on Facebook and then we have people going to Green Bay just to come to the cat cafe or just to meet Grandpa Terry,” Feldhausen said.
Attention has helped the shelter grow.
“A lot of people sent gifts and donations for the cats just because they saw my picture on the internet,” said Lauerman, “so it was great for the cats and that’s what we work for. “
For Feldhausen, everything revolves around cats.
“Before we were here, most of these cats would have been euthanized,” she said, “and I think it’s important that more and more people come to Safe Haven and meet these cats, because the more we can get the word out there, the fewer cats will be euthanized.
His business is still growing, as are his dreams.
“I thought I was going to own a tiny little cat rescue in De Pere forever,” she said, and I was totally cool with it, so this is all beyond my wildest dreams. right now. “
Feldhausen is also co-owner of the Pawffee Shop Cat Café in Appleton.