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Haven Animal Rescue and Community Outreach (formerly known as Safe Haven Humane Society) is pulling out all the stops to care for and try to find the perfect home for a young dog that has been in its care since Jan. 29, 2018.

The shelter, which is located at 991 N. Military Ave. in Howard, recently started a Go Fund Me Campaign for Samson – a 17-month-old bully breed boy who was transferred to HARCO from an overcrowded open-admission shelter in Kenosha.
“He had been seized from a neglectful situation and wasn’t doing well in that hectic and crowded shelter environment,” said HARCO Founder and President Leigh Ann Wagner Kroening. “We knew he had some neurological deficits and special needs. After he arrived here, our own vet also discovered that he is deaf.”

Samson has cerebellar hypoplasia, which is a non-progressive disability caused when part of the cerebellum is not completely formed at the time of birth. This causes Samson to have some jerky and uncoordinated movements that are mostly only noticeable when he’s overtired or trying to go up and down stairs or in and out of a vehicle. His profound deafness has made life even tougher for him.

“Samson’s disabilities have been a challenge, to say the least,” Wagner Kroening said. “He is a sweet, good-natured dog, whose other senses are constantly in overdrive to make up for what he cannot hear or understand. This has made caring for him difficult and finding him a family almost impossible.”

Samson is easily overstimulated and requires a consistent routine, an environment that is not busy or chaotic, and humans who can interact with a laidback, patient, and firm approach. Unfortunately, he has not been able to stay with his HARCO foster families, as it has become evident that he needs to be the only pet in a home without young children. In his short life, Samson has moved through two foster homes and two shelters. Even the small shelter and personalized care at the Military Avenue location have proved to be too overstimulating for him, Wagner Kroening said.

“We are not ready to give up on him!” she said. “Currently Samson is staying at Liberty K9 Lodge, where he is getting amazing care from the kind, patient, and very experienced staff. When it’s play time, Samson has his own dog run in between two other dog runs and enjoys running the fence line down and back again with his neighboring canines. When he’s tired, he can decompress in a quiet, stimuli-free area. The staff is careful to interact with him without excitement and in a gentle but firm manner, and he is thriving.”

Wagner Kroening said the daycare and boarding arrangement has worked wonders for Samson, and now the shelter is raising money to be able to board him there long term as the volunteers continue the search for his perfect forever family.

The Go Fund Me campaign is appropriately named Samson’s Second Chance Fund and can be viewed here: Donations will help pay for Samson’s extended stay at Liberty K9 Lodge, follow up veterinary care and medication refills, behavioral training sessions, and social media and other advertising to reach potential adopters.

Haven Animal Rescue and Community Outreach is a completely volunteer-run local nonprofit organization that receives no public funding.

Wagner Kroening said the shelter relies on support from the community to care for all the homeless pets in HARCO’s care, and Samson’s expenses have nearly depleted the organization’s Animal Care Fund.

“Recently we took Samson to his favorite vet, and we all agreed to try an anti-anxiety medication to try to calm his overactive brain and senses,” she said. “As the medication and new environment start to settle him down, we are hoping to bring in our team of trainers to re-evaluate him and put together a new training plan that we all can use to prepare him for his forever family.  Samson is a goofy, lovable boy who deserves as many chances as we can give him.”
To donate to Samson’s Second Chance Campaign, visit To learn more about Haven Animal Rescue and Community Outreach, check out the organization’s website at  or the Facebook page:

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