About Us

Our Mission

Founded in 1941, SAVE is an independent non-profit animal shelter dedicated to protecting the health and welfare of homeless companion animals in the greater Princeton area. Through six core programs of Rescue, Shelter, Health and Welfare, Spay/Neuter, Adoption, and Humane Education, SAVE focuses on the rehabilitation and successful placement of treatable and adoptable animals. SAVE endeavors to build, foster, and strengthen the human-animal bond.


In 1941, the small and bucolic university town of Princeton was undergoing dramatic growth and so was its stray animal population. Two forward-thinking animal lovers, veterinarian Dr. Cornelia Jaynes and her friend, Ms. Emily Myrick committed themselves, and their resources, to do something about it. They created the Small Animal Veterinary Endowment (SAVE) to rescue stray cats and dogs, shelter them on Dr. Jaynes’ farm, and provide neutering services. Dr. Jaynes had bequeathed her farm to the cause of her beloved cats and dogs. After her death in 1969, SAVE merged with the Small Animal Rescue League. Together the two groups built a beloved and respected shelter that for over 40 years provided happy endings for local homeless companion pets.

On February 21, 2006, SAVE merged with Friends of Homeless Animals (FOHA), an organization founded in 1998 that concentrated on animal rescue and care in the Princeton area. The newly merged organization was renamed SAVE, A Friend to Homeless Animals and is now the largest shelter for companion animals in the greater Princeton region. Consolidating 75 years of community involvement and a shared philosophy and mission, the merger of SAVE and FOHA was a great example of collaboration and merging two like-minded organizations into one with depth and streamlined volunteer and financial resources. In addition to a not-insignificant economy of scale, the merger has led to a greater number of successful adoptions.

SAVE operates as a limited admission shelter with contracts to serve Princeton, Lawrence, Hopewell, Montgomery and Cranbury animal control officers. SAVE depends mostly on private contributions to support its six core programs. The shelter facility has the capacity to house upwards of 100 animals at a time (approximately 75 cats and 25 dogs), and helps an average of 500 animals find loving homes each year.

Key staff and board of trustees

Heather L. Achenbach

Executive Director

Heather L. AchenbachHeather joined SAVE in June of 2017. With over 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry, specifically clinical trial operations management, she brings significant experience in internal and external relationship building and strong motivational skills to the shelter. With 12 years of direct people management experience, Heather is adept at bringing cross-functional teams and initiatives to success. A life-long animal lover, volunteer and foster for a local NJ rescue, Heather has adopted a cat and dog from SAVE and is dedicated to the cause of animal welfare. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA

Donielle Killian-Gioia

Director of Operations

Donielle Killian Gioia Since joining the SAVE team in 2006, Donielle oversees the daily operations of the SAVE shelter. Certified as a Veterinary Technician with 15 years’ experience in private practice, she manages and trains staff, collaborates with partnering veterinary hospitals, assists with adoptions and community events, and works directly with local animal control and other shelters. Her areas of expertise include customer service and animal welfare.

Dj Downing

Director of Marketing Communications & Development

DJ DowningDj joined SAVE in August 2016. With over 20 years’ experience in both the private and non-profit arenas, she brings a diverse range of skills to SAVE with a special emphasis on integrated strategic marketing and branding, direct marketing, advertising, media relations as well as fundraising and development. She adopted her beloved beagle Miss Nola from SAVE and is committed to furthering the mission and community awareness of the shelter.
She holds a BA from Rutgers University and DMA Certified Marketing Professional

Alexandra Wetherill, VMD

Shelter Veterinarian

Alexandra Wetherill, VMD Dr. Wetherill has been involved with SAVE for over twenty-five years as a board member, volunteer and now as the shelter's veterinarian. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Before joining SAVE as the shelter veterinarian, she was in private practice for more than 30 years.

Anna Finch

Volunteer and Event Coordinator

Ann-Marie Krahel Anna eagerly joined SAVE’s team in September of 2015. She trains new volunteers and organizes community outreach events for the shelter. She also transports the dogs and cats to weekly adoption events. Before working at SAVE, Anna volunteered with various animal welfare organizations in Rochester, New York. When Anna isn’t working at SAVE you can find her hiking with her rescue dog Kaia, fostering kittens, or traveling. She graduated with a B.S. from Rochester Institute of Technology.


Assistant Shelter Manager


SAVE is currently interviewing candidates to fill this position. Visit our Job Opportunities page for job description. 


Micheal Perzi,

Office Manager and Bookkeeper

Michael PerziMicheal recently joined SAVE in 2017 as their Office Manager and Bookkeeper. She brings with her over 10 years of marketing and public relations experience having worked with major entertainment clients in film, television and music. She graduated with a B.A. in Art History from the University of Washington and is certified in French languages and culture from UCLA. Micheal has lived in multiple states including Idaho, Washington, California, New Mexico and Oklahoma, but she considers PA her true home. When Micheal is not working at SAVE, she enjoys watching her kids play soccer, playing with their family dog, Pepper, and family cat, Sarah, reading nonfiction books and trying new restaurants.

Ann-Marie Krahel

Humane Education Director

Ann-Marie Krahel Ann-Marie has been SAVE's Humane Education Director since 2008. She was a facilitator for NJ Child Assault Prevention from 1994-1999, working with abused and neglected children to reduce interpersonal violence. She graduated from Rider University, summa cum laude, with a B.A. in Liberal Studies.

Animal Attendants - Adoption Counselors

  • Nicole Alphonse, Veterinary Technician
  • Rory Brennan
  • Sarah Carlen
  • Sophia Carroll
  • Susann Carroll,  Kennel Manager/Dog Trainer
  • Annamaria Crawford
  • Aubrey Durenberger, Assistant Kennel Manager
  • Allison Gillen
  • Colleen Gillen
  • Melissa Laird
  • Amber Lohne
  • Kate Snyderman, Veterinary Technician

Board of Trustees

  • Pamela Murdoch, President
  • Tara R. Hand, Vice President
  • Catheryn E Murdoch, Treasurer
  • Liza S. Morehouse, Secretary
  • Marin S. Blitzer
  • Norman T. Callaway
  • Mark Dennish,
  • Roberta N. Ellsworth
  • Susan Feeney
  • Dennis J. Helms
  • Pamela Mills
  • Catheryn E. Murdoch
  • Jennifer R. Piasio
  • John D. Sayer
  • Courtney Shannon
  • Margaret Tattersall

Trustees Emeriti

  • Douglas Breen
  • Janet Haring
  • Brad Mills

SAVE’S Core Programs


SAVE receives daily inquiries regarding the placement of animals in need. Our organization works closely with local animal control officers as well as rescue groups and animal shelters from across the state to save animals from euthanasia. We are also the only shelter in the Princeton region that will accept pet surrenders when an owner can no longer care for a pet (based on space availability).


For 75 years, SAVE had been helping homeless companion animals find a second chance at a happy life. Our shelter has been a safe haven for thousands of pets since 1941. We are a full-service shelter, one that also accepts animal surrenders from individuals and rescue groups on a space-available basis.


SAVE's main goal is to find the best possible homes for the animals in our care. To achieve this, SAVE has a comprehensive adoption process that involves community outreach, adopter screening, animal behavior counseling and follow-up services. Many SAVE adopters have returned to the shelter to adopt again and again.

Health & Welfare

SAVE provides top-quality veterinary care to every animal in residence. Services include a routine medical exam, heartworm testing and prevention for dogs, leukemia and FIV testing for cats, age-appropriate distemper and rabies vaccinations, de-worming, and flea and tick preventatives. We also offer top-quality care to the abused, neglected, injured or ill dogs and cats we receive. These animals usually need specialized medical treatment, behavioral training and/or extra love and nurturing before they are ready for adoption.


To address the serious proliferation of unwanted animals that often become homeless or abused, SAVE spays or neuters every unaltered animal.

Humane Education

SAVE is committed to humane education because children who learn to respect animals at an early age grow into adults with compassion, respect and empathy for all their fellow creatures, human or animal. Through our Partners in Empathy (PET) Program, SAVE helps local educators incorporate learning about animal welfare into a variety of disciplines: science, language arts, environmental studies and art. Youth groups and other community organizations collaborate with SAVE on appropriate ways to teach and learn about animals.