Hidden Acres’ nonprofit awarded grant to provide homes for kittens

DOWAGIAC — A local nonprofit will now be helping to find good homes for a larger number of kittens.

Heather Matthews and Dawn East, the owners of Hidden Acres, 50582 Pleasant St., Dowagiac, have created a nonprofit, Hidden Acres Safe Haven. The safe haven will serve as a refuge for unwanted livestock animals or other farm animals who were born with disabilities but can still enjoy a respectable quality of life with special accommodations.

Last week, Matthews and East announced Hidden Acres Safe Haven had been awarded a grant from the St. Denys Foundation to take a step forward in its animal adoption services for kittens. With the grant, the pair plans to stablish the Helen House for Kittens to help build a secure home for the farm’s adoptable kittens.

“I know Dusty Dalton, of St. Denys Foundation,” Matthews said. “He is a friend of mine, and I know that his grandma Helen was very passionate about saving cats when she was alive.”

For the past four summers, Hidden Acres has been taking in four to six litters of kittens from people who were not able to take care of them. However due to funding, the farm could only accept one litter at time.

“We didn’t have the funding to take care of more kittens, and we didn’t really have the place to put more than one liter,” Matthews said.

“We were finding excellent homes for them with homes that are going to have spay and neuter done,” East added. “Then we took adoption fees for them, and the money that we got for the kittens we put back into the adult cats and had multiple cats spayed and neutered.”

Matthews said some of the proceeds from the kitten adoptions were also donated to Cass County Animal Control for its spay and neuter fund.

With the new grant, Hidden Acres Safe Haven will be able to adopt more kittens and work with different veterinarians and organizations to ensure that each kitten leaves the safe haven with a spay and neuter voucher.

With the grant money, Matthews and East will also be building a shed for the Helen House for Kittens. Hidden Acres Safe Haven will only be taking in kittens, and the owners should be contacted before interested litters are accepted.

“At this point, we don’t have the funds to take care of any major medical problems with kittens,” East said. “We are still sticking with our policy of socialized, healthy kittens.”

“We have our nonprofit status now, so it will be easier for people to donate to us because they can use it as a write off on their taxes,” Matthews added. “We will always take donations.”

As COVID-19 has kept Hidden Acres closed to the public, Matthews and East are excited for normal operations to resume.

“We are considering doing some virtual things, especially with the kids doing some of their programs now,” East said. “We were contacted by a preschool about possibly doing something like that. If someone is interested in doing something like that, we can make that happen.”

Overall, Hidden Acres Safe Haven is ready to provide proper care and post-adoption services for every kitten who leaves the farm, Matthews said.

“Kittens can kind of get along and whirl around together,” East said. “We are honored to be granted this gift.”

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