Second Chances

LAS CRUCES, N.M.-The drive west of Highway 70, on the outskirts of Las Cruces, lies a haven for stray dogs that is unlike anything in the region. The animals that call this sanctuary home, have been given a second chance at life and anxiously await the day someone will come along and grant them what volunteers at the Safe Haven Animal Shelter call a “forever home”.

The sanctuary is home to a huge variety of dogs, some of which were abandoned by previous owners, others were found as strays around the borderland.


Joy was brought to Safe Haven more than a year ago. She is very shy and doesn’t warm up to strangers easily. Volunteers tell me once she gets to know you she is very loving, enthusiastic, and gives lots of kisses. There’s a running joke around the shelter that everyone has ‘made out with Joy’ at some point.


They come in all shapes and sizes. The volunteers here aid their individual needs that include maintaining medical diets, social activity, and shelter cleanliness among other things.

Many of the dogs have been residents here for years, others for most of their adult lives. Though the volunteers at Safe Haven are optimistic, prospects for potential adoptions for these animals are slim due to their old age and fickle habits.

Despite these ‘setbacks’, these dogs will never be euthanized. The shelter was founded on the principal that no dog who enters will ever be put to sleep. If these dogs don’t get adopted out to live the rest of their lives with an adopted family, they spend the time at the modest shelter.


Named after his love of tennis balls and playing fetch, Wilson is never quick to deny a game when a human is in his play space. He’s been known to play fetch for as long as 30 minutes straight on any given day, as long as there is a volunteer there willing to play with him. Due to diet restrictions, volunteers have to be careful which food he is given or else Wilson will become severely ill.

This project is a glimpse into the day to day activities of Safe Haven and gives a unique insight into the practices that make this shelter a living sanctuary.


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