This week, SafeHaven Humane Society will move into its new home. It will mark a significant date in a 40-year journey for “The Little Shelter That Could.”

SafeHaven’s grassroots story has made it a major player, not just the Albany community, but all of Linn County and beyond.

From its early beginnings in 1974, when Jan Volz, Winifred Moore and Cathy Miller pioneered a movement to aid the overcrowding at the pound and provide relief for stray animals, the shelter has been a visible force.

Working out of their homes as the Linn Humane Society, the trio would house animals at their own homes until permanent residences could be found.

Their initial houseguests included more than just cats and dogs. Birds, rabbits and farm animals were also handled. Volunteers helped the agency grow in its initial years.

Finally, in 1984, the humane society used money from the sale of an inherited estate to purchase the 1-acre site on Highway 34.

The site’s lone building was expanded to include kennels for dogs and puppies. In 1986, the organization underwent a restructuring and was renamed SafeHaven Humane Society, becoming one of the first no-kill facilities in the state.

Additional expansion followed. In 1993 a room was added for cats, and in 1999 the site got a manufactured home that served multiple duty as a quarantine area for cats, an exam area and additional office space.

The shelter continued to grow over the 35 years it has been on Highway 34. The staff has increased to 30 under the leadership of 12-year executive director Chris Storm and a dedicated board of directors.

In addition, 600 volunteers at the shelter and its satellite thrift and gift store at 33650 Highway 99E in Tangent provide 11,000 hours of service each year.

Known for its educational programs and community outreach, SafeHaven also has offered creative fundraising ideas, including “Paws in the Park,” “De-Sex in the City” and “Diamonds and Dice.”

The shelter’s move to its new 33,000-square-foot home at 33071 Old Highway 34 S.E. marks the end of SafeHaven’s first era.

The new one that doubles the number of animals SafeHaven can shelter and expands its impressive list of services begins Monday, July 14.

Steve Lathrop is the business reporter for the Albany Democrat-Herald. He can be reached at 541-812-6076 or by email at


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