MONTGOMERY: SAVE breaks ground on its new shelter

A dream has come true for SAVE, A Friend to Homeless Animals.

By Jennifer Kohlhepp, Staff Writer
   MONTGOMERY — A dream has come true for SAVE, A Friend to Homeless Animals.
   SAVE broke ground for its new shelter facility on Nov. 15. The ceremony took place at the Van Zandt property in Blawenburg, located at 1010 County Road 601, near Montgomery High School.
   ”SAVE, A Friend to Homeless Animals, is about to build the best temporary home for homeless dogs and cats while at the same time positioning the organization to become a model animal shelter for the state of New Jersey and the region,” said executive director of SAVE Piper Burrows. “Our founder, the late Dr. Cornelia Jaynes, would be so proud of our accomplishments for she always dreamed of having a shelter facility that would make the community proud.”
   SAVE’s current shelter, located at 900 Herrontown Road in Princeton, is in very rough shape after 40 years of constant use and is inadequate in size to properly serve the Princeton area. Also, the shelter facility itself is not as conducive as it should be to minimizing the stress of homelessness or abandonment, according to Ms. Burrows.
   The new site is located in Blawenburg on 12 secluded acres. Over the next 10 months, a 10,000-square-foot modern shelter will be built adjacent to the historic Van Zandt House, which has been renovated to serve as the administrative building of SAVE by Max Hayden Architect.
   Built in the 1850s, the historic James Van Zandt House was donated to SAVE by a generous couple several years ago. Their vision, then and now, was an aesthetically positive and a completely functional facility for both people and animals, according to Ms. Burrows.
   ”This is a very special moment in SAVE’s 73-year long history,” Ms. Burrows said. “Today is an important milestone for SAVE, A Friend to Homeless Animals, because this shelter has been in the works for 11 years.”
   The new facility will allow SAVE to shelter up to 75 cats and 25 dogs in dignity and comfort, give dogs and cats the best temporary home while they await adoption, offer animal health and welfare services on a much larger scale, provide quiet bonding rooms for families to become acquainted with shelter pets, dedicate areas for dog training and orientation classes, give volunteers the opportunity to walk dogs in a safe and peaceful setting and expand SAVE’s programs and services to Montgomery Township, according to Ms. Burrows.
   ”We believe that our animals in residence will have an even better chance of finding their forever homes thanks to the beautiful interior designed by Cornell University’s Maddies Shelter Medicine Program experts, architect Max Hayden, SAVE staff members Dr. Alix Wetherhill and Donielle Killian-Gioia,” Ms. Burrows said. “The bucolic grounds you see all around you, mostly wetlands, will include space for the agility training, dog walking, or even bird watching. Benches will be positioned around the rain garden and other areas so visitors can enjoy the peace and tranquility of our 12 lovely acres.”
   Donielle Killian-Gioia, SAVE’s director of shelter operations, said, “This is a new beginning. We’re very excited for our animals. We’re very eager to change their lives while their with us. This will be a less stressful environment to stay in while their with us.”
   SAVE is a private shelter and animal welfare organization dedicated to protecting the health and well being of companion animals in the greater Princeton area. Through six core programs of rescue, shelter, health and welfare, spay/neuter, adoption and humane education, SAVE strives to substantially reduce animal overpopulation and the corresponding euthanasia of adoptable and treatable animals.
   Many SAVE supporters and their adopted dogs attended the groundbreaking ceremony.
   One of the honored guests at the ceremony was Gracie, a Rhodesian ridgeback mix that is SAVE’s latest rescue.
   ”I think that she would make a wonderful companion dog for someone with an active lifestyle,” said Dylan DiMeglio, a SAVE staff member. “She loves to run and go on long walks. She would make a great pet.”
   Adrienne Rubin and her son, Elian, said they wished they could have brought their adopted cats to the ceremony. They volunteer in the cat room at SAVE’s current location and said SAVE has many volunteer opportunities.
   ”I really am happy to be here,” Elian said. “I volunteer at SAVE and teach cats that are not so friendly to like belly rubs. The old facility they’re using is really really small compared to this one. The cats will be more comfortable here.”
   ”I think it’s very exciting,” said Princeton resdient Daphney Townsend, who attended the ceremony with her adopted dog Winston. “I’m thrilled for SAVE. It’s a dream come true.”
   For more information about SAVE or the groundbreaking ceremony, call 609-924-3802.