By BECCA BORONAT
There are Unsung Heroes all around us, in every community, helping us get one step closer to creating No Kill South Carolina. One of these people is Samira (Sam) Yaghi who volunteers for the Fairfield County Adoption Center in Winnsboro, SC – and was recently named the National Unsung Hero by Petco Love!
Sam is a Volunteer Rescue Coordinator for the Fairfield County Animal Control & Adoption Center, driving 90 minutes each way, every day! She is a tireless lifesaver for an underfunded shelter.
“Not only does she drive so far after work to come do her unpaid job, that is just
as stressful, if not more stressful than her real job, she comes here and does everything for nothing. That’s amazing to me,” said Fairfield County Animal Control & Adoption Center Grants Coordinator Shelley Fentress.
The challenges facing Fairfield County’s lifesaving efforts makes Sam’s commitment even more noteworthy.
“We bring in normally around 1,800 animals a year, but our shelter is actually built for 25,” said Fairfield County Animal Control & Adoption Center Director Bob Innes. “And the shelter is pretty dilapidated.”
A LIFESAVING MACHINE
Workers at the Fairfield County Adoption Center say that since Sam joined the team as a volunteer, they haven’t had to euthanize a single animal due to space. They credit Sam with dramatically decreasing this rural shelter’s euthanasia rate through innovative ideas and lots of hard work.
From coordinating transport and fundraising to promoting adoptions across social media, Sam has become a lifesaving machine. “She will even take an animal in hospice care and make sure it has a final good home,” said Fentress.
“She just doesn’t stop.”
Sam has spent countless hours building relationships with rescues from around the country. This network allows the Fairfield County Adoption Center to transport animals out of Fairfield to homes in other areas. “We don’t have foot traffic at the shelter for adoptions,” Sam said. “When it comes to adoptions, it’s all transfer-related, to shelters not only in the state, but from all over. That is our lifeline.”
A MOTIVATION TO SAVE LIVES
Sam’s motivation to work so hard to save lives can be summed up in one word: Roscoe.
Roscoe is the Pitbull mix that Sam rescued after witnessing his previous owner kicking and assaulting the dog. Learning that Pitbulls are among the most at-risk breed in shelters was all it took for Sam to find her calling at the Fairfield County Animal Control & Adoption Center.
Those who work with Sam credit her with improving the lives of over 4,000 animals to date and she’s nowhere near finished with her lifesaving work.
“Sam always comes through, finding rescues or homes to take animals,” Innes said.
NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED UNSUNG HERO
On a cloudy day earlier this year, Sam was surprised to see cameras and Petco Love at the shelter. She soon found out they were there to recognize her amazing work.
Covering her face with disbelief, Sam was mobbed with hugs from her co-workers
as the Fairfield County Animal Control & Adoption Center was presented with a $10,000 check from Petco Love. That was later bumped up to $25,000 when she was announced as the national winner.
“She personifies what an unsung hero is all about,” said world-renowned dog trainer Victoria Stilwell, who was in Winnsboro representing Petco Love.
As for Sam? Modest as ever, she said she accepted the award on behalf of everyone she works with who try so hard to save animal lives every single day.
To learn more about the inspiring stories of other Unsung Heroes and all the difference that one person can make in creating a better world for pets visit PetcoLove.org/ unsung-heroes.