Give Me Shelter
by Rebecca Richardson
According to the Human Society of the United States: “Animal shelters care for 6-8 million dogs and cats every year. Approximately 3-4 million of these animals will be euthanized due to overpopulation and lack of adoptions.” Each month we'll take a look at local shelters and highlight their efforts to reduce these numbers.
Our first feature shelter is the newly opened SAMS, Stray Animal Midway Shelter in Hanna City. Founded in 2010 by director Connie Davis, this no-kill shelter is working diligently to change myths surrounding “shelter pets”. They offer a low-cost spay and neuter program, along with providing education to help reduce the homeless pet population in our area. They are capable of housing up to 40 pets at any given time, that rotate in shifts throughout the week.
Nestled in the countryside, a trip to SAMS is like a visit to an old friend. You're greeted by a large, neatly maintained yard with segmented runs, allowing ample room for running and play. A large pool is available for the more adventurous pups who enjoy swimming or cooling off from the summer heat. Dogs who enjoy the company of others are placed in daily play groups to interact and form friendships. Those who prefer the solo life, are given time to explore on their own. Kennels are large and comfortable and housing areas are temperature controlled for their comfort.
As a 501c3, SAMS relies solely on volunteers and private donations to run. Being a no-kill facility, animals are given time to adjust to life changes and staff gets more know them better. These key points, along with SAMS unique layout, allows animals to feel more comfortable in their surroundings. This helps reduce many shelter related issues that can crop up with long term stays.
According to staff volunteers Chad Wiehe and Jamee Reed “Allowing these dogs to run and play is huge. They can release pent up energy which in turn helps to reduce the stress they can feel from being caged. Less stress equals a happier, emotionally healthier dogs.”
If you're more of a cat vs. dog person, never fear; SAMS has both! Their cat room is just as thoughtful as the canine ones. Sunny and inviting, there is lots of room for jumping and climbing. By preparing for longer term residents, the shelter is given a feel of home; helping to ease the transition for the animals when they leave for their new environments. Dogs with workable, behavioral issues are given one on one attention by their certified animal behaviorist and when possible, dogs and cats are placed in qualified foster care homes.
Shelter director Davis states “The first three years that SAMS was in operation we provided free spay/neuter vouchers for over 300 animals. With the new shelter, we are now able to provide housing for up to 40 animals at any given time while searching for that perfect home for him / her.” She went on to state: “The reality is that up to 60% of animals who enter a kill shelter, never leave. It is not the shelter, but overcrowding and lack of education. Many reasons for relinquishing an animal can be resolved with proper training. One of our goals outside of adoption, is to help educate the public . When possible, we try to keep animals with their owners rather than seeing them go into a rescue or shelter.”
A large part of SAMS adoptions take place at off-site events. Drop by the Peoria PetSmart on any given weekend and chances are you will find dedicated SAMS volunteers. According to Patti Kelton, off-site adoption coordinator “Many of our animals find their happy tail endings at these events. We bring animals we know are adoption ready. Our large volunteer network has decades of combined experience. We draw on our knowledge when working with a prospective family to find that perfect match.”
SAMS is not your typical shelter environment. They are breaking the mold and charging ahead in the Central, IL area. Stop by to meet some of the amazing dogs and cats seen here and learn more about their mission. Every animal deserves a chance to find their own happy tail ending. SAMS is working hard to help those endings start, with a new beginning.
To learn more, please visit: 328 S Pinkerton Rd, Hanna City, IL. You can find them online at: www.SamsRescue.org or on FB @sams.rescue By phone at: 309.565.4821 or through E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org