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Director of Safe Haven Rescue dies suddenly, leaving 34 german shepherds

34 dogs were left behind when director of The S.H.E.B.A Rescue Foundation died suddenly.
Photo by Gary Gershoff

On Monday, the Director of Safe Haven German Shepherd Rescue announced that the former Director had died. Janet O'Connor was concerned about the 34 German shepherds left behind after the sudden death.

O'Connor reached out through email connections to ask for help.

"Sadly, our previous Director, and my good friend Stephanie Calcote passed away a short time ago. I am writing in respect to her wishes regarding the fur babies in our care.

It was very important to Steph that if something ever happened to her, all of our four-footed friends would be taken care of. She did not want them carted off by the Sherriff's dept. to the nearest animal shelter and put to sleep! Over time, she has networked with many groups, and that is why I am reaching out to you all during this trying time."

Safe Haven had been located in the countryside of Mannford, Oklahoma. The seclusion offered a chance for dogs to live undisturbed, but brought on other drawbacks.

"It is not unusual to find a dog tied to the gate now and then, or simply put over it. The dogs have survived harsh winters, brutal summers, periods of time with low donations , and even wildfires. The last one you may have even seen on the news. With the loss of our home and sadly, some of our fur babies, we still managed to rebuild and carry on with some help."

O'Connor went on to explain that she had been fully invested in the operation which required the financial and physical efforts of both she and Calcote. The woman now found herself left behind with the full financial burden of paying for 34 dogs and the need to go back to work full-time in order to survive her loss. The dog-lover recognized that no amount of efforts would be enough and the dogs would suffer from lack of funding and attention.

The dogs both women loved, rescued, and cared for had to go somewhere.

Word spread quickly and O'Connor's plea did not go unheard. Rescues slowly have begun combining efforts to take in the displaced animals for training and adoption.

The list included:

  • 8 German Shepherds
  • 8 German Shepherd mixes
  • 1 Dutch Shepherds
  • 1 Great Pyrenees
  • 4 Great Pyrenees mixes
  • 1 American Staffordshire Terrier
  • 2 American Staffordshire Terrier mixes
  • 3 Husky mixes
  • 3 'Premium' mixes
  • 1 Catahoula Hound
  • 1 Bird Dog
  • 1 Australian Cattle Dog Puppy, 4-5 months old

Not all the dogs have been placed and those that have been placed still are in need of a permanent family. Shepherds thrive on forming family ties and multiple transitions are not good for any dog.

To find out more about how you can help or to adopt one of the dogs, please contact

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