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 partnering with several local communities including Princeton, Lawrence, Hopewell, Montgomery, Cranbury and South Brunswick Township animal control officers to provide a safe haven for lost, stray, or abandoned cats and dogs.  The shelter facility has the capacity to house upwards of 100 animals at a time (approximately 75 cats and 25 dogs).  Our number of adoptions is growing every year.  In 2018, we reached our adoption goal of 600 dogs and cats being placed in loving homes - nearly 80 more adoptions than the year before.

Key staff

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, 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

Jill Van Tuyl

Director of Operations

Jill has more than 20 years of experience working in animal welfare and specifically animal shelters large and small. She brings strong shelter operations knowledge to SAVE having held leadership positions at ASPCA, Arizona Humane Society, and several others. In addition to a BS in Psychology from the University of Phoenix, Jill also maintains various FEMA disaster response certifications. She has served as a Board Member on multiple animal protection and welfare organizations. Jill hails from Asbury, NJ and loves to spend time with her dog, Lacey, and her cat, Zen.

Donna Alfieri, DVM

Shelter Veterinarian

Dr. Alfieri’s professional experience includes owning and operating a private veterinary hospital, practicing at a low cost high volume spay/neuter clinic, and caring for shelter pets. She earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Ross University in 1991. Dr. Alfieri believes strongly in the “Five Freedoms” and strives to create a better environment for all shelter animals. (Dr. Alfieri is a bit camera shy - her dog, Ziegfried, is her stand-in!)

Dj Downing

Director of Marketing Communications & Development


DJ Downing

Ayako Yoshikawa

Development Assistant and Bookkeeper



Sierra Crubaugh

Foster Coordinator



Lisa Luscuskie

Volunteer and Adoption Event Coordinator


Ann-Marie Krahel

Humane Education Director


Ann-Marie Krahel

Board of Trustees

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

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.