Our Origin Story
In the beginning, it was all about The Dogs...
Sammy’s Hope became a formal animal welfare organization in September 2010. The organization grew out of 5 years of volunteer efforts at the Edison Animal Shelter by one of its co-founders, Elda Hubbard. Early in her experience as a volunteer, Elda, a JP Stevens High school teacher, started a program called JPaWS to give high school students the opportunity to volunteer at the shelter.
A difficulty with the student program was that the students were unable to safely handle the large breed dogs. As a volunteer at the shelter outside of JPaWS, a great deal of Elda’s focus and concern was on the dogs labeled as pit bulls, as they were typically considered unadoptable and not made available to the public for adoption. Over the years, Elda had reached out to several adult volunteers to assist with socializing and walking the larger dogs, and with the permission of the township, she was able to facilitate adoptions for some of the dogs labeled as pit bulls.
During 2010, a tighter group of adult volunteers began to form around Elda’s efforts. As the group grew, it was decided that in order for us to do everything we possibly could for the animals, we would need to become an independent organization.
We took our name from one of the dogs in the shelter called Samson (“Sammy” for short). Sammy is a large brindle Pit Bull/Boxer mix whose sweet demeanor and winning personality stole all of our hearts. We felt he exemplified all of the wonderful qualities of these misunderstood dogs but knew that it would be difficult to find him a forever home given the public’s perception of Pit Bulls. The idea behind “Sammy’s Hope” was that we would work our hardest to bring some hope to the future of Sammy, and all of the animals like him unfortunate enough to find themselves homeless.
For Sammy’s Hope, like Sammy himself, we did not know what would lie ahead. Within a week of becoming a formal organization, Sammy himself was fostered, and adopted a few months later. Within the first 6 month, Sammy’s Hope was able to move approximately 30 dogs out of the shelter that would have otherwise been considered unadoptable. This achievement far exceeded our initial expectations.
As we continued to grow, we added extra dog walking days, in-home support to keep adopted pets with their families, a foster program, kuranda beds and kennel enrichment for the pups in the shelter, adoption marketing on the web and social media, mandatory spay/neuter before adoption, and financial assistance for extraordinary medical care and behavioral training.
...And then there were Cats!
Our efforts into the cat rooms began slowly, with just a few volunteers who wanted to spend their time socializing cats, but it expanded into a wildly successful program. Our lead volunteers quickly realized that the cats and kittens required much more interaction and stimulation than a few volunteers could provide during volunteer hours. In addition to actively pursuing more volunteer hands in the cat rooms, we set about preparing all of the kennels so that when volunteers were not present, the cats were not simply in small kennels with nothing to do. More volunteer eyes and hands in the cat rooms also ensures that any changes in behavior or health were noticed quickly so that the cats received timely medical attention, thereby making sure that a small problem does not become a big one. Among the enhancements we made for the Shelter Cats are soft bedding, Kuranda beds, toys, consistent diets, grooming, play sessions and robust adoption marketing.
Sammy's Hope volunteers built a small play space in the main cat room where the cats could stretch their legs, climb and meet potential adopters in a space that allowed them to be more comfortable. We also purchased and installed a large outdoor cattery for cats and kittens to run, climb, play and enjoy fresh air in a protected outdoor environment.
Additionally, we developed a specialized Kitten Foster program to give these babies the best chance at a healthy start in life, with the support of advice, supplies and attention to medical needs for our fosters.
The New Sammy’s Hope
The next natural step for us was to open our own facility in order to give even more shelter animals a chance at finding their forever homes. In the fall of 2014, the Sammy’s Hope Board learned of an opportunity to lease a large space in an existing but unused shelter facility in Sayreville, New Jersey, adjacent to the Sayrebrook Veterinary Hospital. The Board voted unanimously to fund and move ahead with the project, with a proposed dedication date in February, 2015.
Over the next few months the board and our wonderful volunteers worked hundreds of hours preparing the facility to operate as an independent, 24/7/365 shelter for both cats and dogs. After a thorough makeover, the Sammy's Hope Animal Welfare & Adoption Center (SHAWAC) had a joyful grand opening on February 26, 2015, and since then has been providing adoption services for shelter animals, helping to relieve overcrowded conditions at area municipal animal shelters.
All animals in our care receive medical care (including vaccinations, testing and spay/neuter surgery), socialization and behavior training as needed. We also serve as a resource to the community to help solve challenging pet behavior issues, support and operate TNR projects, and encourage and support humane treatment of all animals. We focus especially on animals that have been in shelters for especially long periods, those being overlooked for adoption for any number of reasons, and those whose behaviors may be hindering their adoption.
Sammy’s Hope is a place where other shelters and animal rescue organizations can send, on a selective basis, hard-to- place animals. Our main partners are municipal animal shelters and rescue groups—including Liberty Humane Society, the Woodbridge Animal Shelter, the Trenton Animal Shelter, The Perth Amboy Animal Shelter, and the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center. Sammy's Hope provides a helpful and specialized resource for these organizations and their most at-risk animals. By offering more focused behavior support, frequent human and animal socialization, we vastly increase the chances and opportunities to place homeless dogs and cats in loving forever homes.