Eden Animal Haven began in 2010 when Leslie Sawyer and Bill Stoll took up residence on a piece of land owned by a psychologist and his wife who wanted it used for animal welfare. While living in a small house on the property, Leslie and Bill converted a barn without plumbing or electricity into a temporary cat sanctuary. Horse stalls were reinforced and secured with chicken wire and doors; carpeted ramps were built for the cats to access the large loft; cat trees, walkways, plush beds, and insulated boxes for winter were installed.
EAH formed a board and became a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation in December 2013, and received their animal shelter license from the Missouri Department of Agriculture in June 2016. The board has expanded from an initial three to a current size of six.
EAH decided to focus on cats because of a pronounced need in the areas surrounding Springfield, Missouri. Although there are many dog-only rescues and shelters, there are no cat-only shelters in the area. Cats are euthanized at local animal control facilities at much higher rates than are dogs. For example, although from 2005 to 2014 Springfield Animal control reduced its dog euthanization rate from 48% to 12%, its much higher cat euthanization rate of 67% in 2005 declined to only 43% in 2014. In raw numbers, an average of 243 dogs were euthanized over this time span, with 1165 sent to rescues. But 428 cats were euthanized and only 426 sent to rescues. The need for a cat shelter like EAH is clearly pressing.
Our goal is to construct a state-of-the-art, cage-free cat building on the property, modeled from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah. The new building will shelter at least double the number of cats as the original barn--increasing our lifesaving capacity from around 150 to up to 300-400 cats in the first year. The building will contain medium and large community rooms, as well as small rooms for injured and recovering cats and lactating mothers with kittens. A quarantine area will shelter cats with infectious diseases. In addition, the original barn building will continue to house feral cats, an even more endangered cat population.
See our video about Eden Animal Haven!