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A haven for pets at Loaves and Fishes

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The four-legged friends of Sacramento’s homeless have a new place to call their own at Loaves & Fishes.

“Anneke’s Haven” was dedicated Wednesday, and it will serve as a day-use kennel for pets belonging to the homeless.

“What we offer for the animals is actually a place to rest, a meal and care,” said Sandra Morris, volunteer coordinator for Loaves & Fishes. “For many of our guests, the pets have an especially strong bond because, unlike humans, they give you unconditional love, and they provide safety.”

The new kennel is across a walkway from the previous structure, which served the area for the past 15 years but was half the size and becoming run-down, Morris said.

The old kennels will be used for food storage for the pets and also more space for Mercer Clinic, said Sister Libby Fernandez, executive director of Loaves & Fishes. The new kennel was designed by Dennis Greenbaum, a Carmichael-based architect.

The kennel was funded by private donations – two major anonymous donors and individual contributions for the kennel, Fernandez said.

Anneke’s Haven will shelter up to 20 pets. It is mostly intended for cats and dogs, but Morris said any pet that is legal in Sacramento County will be cared for.

“For example, we don’t allow ferrets, because they’re illegal here,” she said.

The kennel is named for Anneke Voss, who was a longtime supporter of animals at Loaves & Fishes.

Voss died at age 85 about a month ago, and Morris said the dedication of the new facility to her was a natural choice.

“She was a longtime volunteer who created our animal emergency services program, and she also worked with SPCA and Mercer Clinic,” Morris said. “She was so splendid. She worked the day she passed away. She was very, very dedicated and just wonderful with the pets.”

The kennel offers a place where pets can stay while homeless visitors to Loaves & Fishes eat, participate in programs on the site or even go out to job interviews.

On the second Saturday of each month, Mercer Clinic – with the aid of UC Davis students – provides free care to homeless pets.

Morris said the clinic gives the opportunity for homeless pets to be spayed or neutered and be seen by a veterinarian.

The devotion pets have to their homeless owners is reciprocated by the humans, according to Morris.

“The pets are so well cared for,” she said, adding that the homeless place the welfare of the animals above themselves. “If there’s a choice, it’s the pets that are fed. Sometimes that pet is the only friend a person has.”

Fernandez said Anneke’s Haven is the only kennel in the area serves the homeless’ pets.

“It’s a good thing,” said Peggysue Peterson, a homeless woman who takes her dog to the kennel. “They can put their dogs in there and go about their daily lives and look for jobs. It’s a convenience because the dog isn’t running rampant.”

Anneke’s Haven opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 2:30 p.m., Morris said. Animals can be dropped off and picked up throughout the day, be it a short visit or one that lasts several hours.

Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. 

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