SAVE, the non-profit small animal shelter at 900 Herrontown Road in Princeton Township, has announced plans to move to a new 10-acre site at 1010 Route 601 in Montgomery Township.
SAVE (acronym for Small Animal Veterinarian Endowment) merged with Friends of Homeless Animals (FOA) in February to form SAVE: A Friend to Homeless Animals.
"When we saw we were traveling on the same road, it seemed only sensible to join forces," said SAVE Executive Director Fred Ball. "SAVE Board members John Sayer and Pauline Egan and FOA Board members Pete Callaway and Cheryl Mills opened up the dialog with respect to the merger and the use of the old Van Zandt property, which FOA acquired through the generosity of Brad and Cheryl Mills."
SAVE plans to move its administrative offices, currently housed in space donated by Goldman Sachs in their building on Mt. Lucas Road, to an existing 1860s brick building on the former Van Zandt property that is set for renovation. A new shelter facility is to be built on the site that will accommodate the animals now housed on Herrontown Road.
The new site is substantially larger than SAVE's current three-acre site and is "much more promising for good-neighbor relations," said Mr. Ball, who joined SAVE just under a year ago.
During the past 20 years, SAVE has grown from a 1,000 square feet haven for stray neighborhood animals into a full-service shelter that accepts animals surrendered by individuals, rescue groups, or transferred from other shelters, as space allows.
Now there are some 170 animals housed at any one time at the shelter. Neighbors have voiced concerns over the years about its growth. Kay Klotzburger, who lives on Orchard Road and whose yard is so close to the shelter that she's endured sleepless nights caused by barking dogs, has filed several lawsuits against the organization and has represented local homeowners in discussions about the building, which she says is insufficiently soundproofed.
While sympathetic to SAVE's intentions, Ms. Klotzburger said that because her home is the closest residential property to the shelter, she has borne the brunt of its growth from a very modest facility to one that is no longer appropriate in a residential neighborhood.
"As a volunteer-run facility," she said, "there is no one on site 24/7 and animals are left unattended overnight and for long periods during holiday weekends."
She added that she is less bothered today than she was 10 or 20 years ago, however. "I've grown to live with it and I've learned to tune it out."
For Ms. Klotzburger, news of the move comes too late to make much of a difference. She has plans of her own to relocate soon.
"The new location is much better suited for a shelter than the current Herrontown Road site," said Mr. Ball. "We are in the final stages of choosing designers for the restoration of the old Van Zandt house which will be named the Mills House in recognition of the generosity of Brad and Cheryl Mills. We'll move our offices there by the fall of next year and build a new 17,500 foot shelter that we hope to occupy between late 2008 and early 2009." The new shelter will accommodate over 200 animals.
Mr. Ball, who was a commercial real estate developer prior to joining SAVE, said that the non-profit is preparing a capital campaign in hopes of raising more than $3 million to fund construction of the new shelter.
So far SAVE has about $1 million for the project, raised by its Board of Trustees. It hopes to raise another 3 to 3.5 million to fund the new shelter and has an ultimate goal of 5 million so that the new organization can have an endowment that will provide support well into the future.
Since 1941, when it was co-founded as the Princeton Small Animal Rescue LeagueSmall Animal Veterinary Endowment by the late veterinarian Dr. Cornelia Jaynes and her friend the late Emily Myrick, SAVE has been a haven for thousands of abandoned pets.
Animals brought to the shelter receive any necessary medical treatment and socialization before being put up for adoption. Except in extreme cases, SAVE does not consider euthanasia an appropriate option and the new merger organization will continue to have a no-kill policy. "The shelter takes in animals for which there is a high chance of adoption, those that are generally in good health, or treatable with no social issues regarding other animals or humans." said Mr. Ball,
The organization's programs focus on rescue, shelter, adoption, health and welfare, spay/neuter, and humane education, with the goal of reducing animal overpopulation and the corresponding euthanasia of adoptable and treatable animals in the Greater Princeton community.
In order to raise funds for its continuation and expansion, SAVE-A Friend to Homeless Animals will hold a sixth annual spring gala benefit, sponsored by Merrill Lynch with food by Main Street Catering. Friends and supporters of the organization are invited to "Tails from Margaritaville," with dancing to "Jimmy and the Parrots," as well as a live and silent auction, at the Princeton Airport on Saturday, May 20 from 6:30 to 11 p.m. Tickets are $150 and reservations are required.
For more information, call (609) 924-3802, or visit www.savehomelessanimals.org.
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