Helping stray animals, despite roadblocks
Local women plan new initiatives to save cats, dogs
by Vanessa Cruz
Reporter Staff Writer
Aug 12, 2012 | 5547 views | 3 3 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DEVOTED VOLUNTEERS - From left to right: Karina Voronich, John Hojnacki, Felicia Martello, Christina Martin, Mary Saltalamacchia of North Bergen, Elaine Samman, Antoinette Fiorentini of Union City, Doogie Helmstetter, Carolyn Burton and Barbara Bellino. Also pictured is the cat named Bachi Ball.
view slideshow (6 images)

Elainne Samman, who has been a North Bergen resident for 18 years, is an avid animal lover. Her compassion was passed down by her mother, Barbara Bellino. Together they have started a local rescue group called American Life Savers Inc. (ALS). They are strong believers in a program called “trap, neuter, and release” that has been controversial in some local towns and has met with opposition from North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco.

Samman’s non-profit organization rescues homeless animals within the North Jersey area. Bellino is right by her daughter’s side, as she is the founder and treasurer of the organization.

ALS began in 2000 and was primarily focused on cats, but has now expanded.

Two years ago Samman left the job she had worked in for 20 years “to become poor on her own” and devote herself to her organization. “The rest is all a crazy mess,” joked Samman.

Fighting for animals

Samman works with other groups and with the North Bergen PetSmart store to get animals adopted. Those adopting kittens pay $100, including spaying, neutering, vaccines and a checkup for feline leukemia and AIDS. Adult cats have a lower fee, $60 to $75. Puppies are between $200 to $250 and a dog ranges from $100 to $200.

“We applaud people for taking a cat rather than a kitten or a dog rather than a puppy,” said Samman.


“The community needs to group together and come up with a solution on getting North Bergen to be TNR friendly.” - Elaine Samman


All the cats available at the North Bergen PetSmart are from ALS.

One of Samman’s favorite dog breeds is the pit bull, which she said is misunderstood. She feels that some people just don’t raise them properly.

Yvette Miqueli is the trainer for ALS who stumbled onto the organization because she lives around the corner from Samman.

The controversy

Samman is a strong believer in TNR or “trap, neuter, release,” a program in which volunteers trap stray cats in cages, neuter them so they can’t reproduce, and release them. Some communities have objected, saying the program really doesn’t reduce the population of strays. The program has spurred controversy in nearby towns including Bayonne.

Samman attended a meeting in February with Mayor Sacco and officials from the local Animal Control office and the Health Department.

Samman said that she was told by the Health Department that TNR is illegal in New Jersey. After some research, she realized that it varies from town to town. Fort Lee, for example, has a program in place.

Samman said that she was trying to start a TNR program with the help of the town and local volunteers.

Town spokesman Phil Swibinski, after speaking with North Bergen Health Director/Officer Rich Censullo about the issue, said that North Bergen does not currently have a feral cat problem. He said that Censullo and the Sacco administration believe that starting a TNR program could lead to a problem. He said there are potential legal issues regarding abandoning cats after they have been taken in for a time. Various issues are unclear and would have to be sorted out.

He said the township has no plan to begin a TNR program.

“We believe that Elaine and her organization have their hearts in the right place and do truly care about animal welfare, as North Bergen does too,” said Swibinski. “Mayor Sacco’s administration is willing to meet with Animal Life Savers Inc. hear their recommendations and work with them for a solution in the best interests of North Bergen residents and animals.”

Samman said that a majority of the strays she finds in Hudson County are feral, meaning born in the wild, and are not socialized by people. So many of them can’t be adopted, but they can be sponsored.

For the non-adoptable cats, she tries to get them into sanctuaries, which is costly – from $300 to $400 per cat.

She would like to have a bulletin board placed on Bergenline Avenue illustrating how important TNR is for pets.

“The community needs to group together and come up with a solution on getting North Bergen to be TNR friendly,” said Samman. “We all have to come together and try to make this a better town.”

She is also looking for volunteers in general.

“All organizations lack volunteers,” said Samman. “Without volunteers, our organization cannot exist.”

Senior citizen program and others

Bellino works on the newsletters for members, which she said take her six months to create. The newsletters are seasonal and they provide updates on pets that have been adopted, along with highlighting those that are still looking for homes.

Samman is starting a program to link senior citizens with senior cats that are difficult to adopt, at no charge. The program will provide the cats with food and liter once a month.

Fundraising is crucial to help them feed the animals and provide essentials.

ALS is available on and they also have a Facebook account. Both accounts are under the organization’s name, Animal Life Savers, Inc. They previously had a .com website which has been recently changed to For their 20th anniversary, Samman’s husband Michael, who works for Berkeley College changed the website from a .com to a .org.

For further information e-mail: or

Vanessa Cruz can be reached at

Comments-icon Post a Comment
August 18, 2012
Thank you to all the animal rescues groups, shelters and national organizations for continuing your efforts and fighting the good fight on behalf of those that can’t fight for themselves. Through you they do have a voice and that voice is being heard.

There will always be a delusional few, (FACT: Cats are a man-made invasive species)…need I say more. These few will mix fact with fiction simply to lie, cause doubt and undermine humane effective causes like TNR. They will however not stop the cause nor deter the people that support it.

Many people reading this article will be from the inner city areas and many of you will own pets so I’m confident you will not be swayed so easily by such “back woods hunter mentality” nonsense.

By doing your own research you will learn the truth. TNR, implemented properly does work. To implement TNR properly requires the support of the community through government sponsored programs. As stipulated in the article Animal Life Savers is trying to work with the local government to get this type of support.

There are more and more programs like this getting support from the local government in different cities across the country. Why? Because the people are educating themselves and they are learning the truth and are demanding through vote that they be heard.

The number of local rescue groups working closely with local veterinarians to assure TNR is done correctly is growing. These organizations are made up of well organized, concerned citizens that happen to believe that TNR not killing is the better way to fix this problem. Since inner cities like North Bergen or NYC have larger stray populations, these areas would benefit most from TNR.

Education works on the side of TNR so please do the research and formulate your own thoughts.

Please note that TNR is a method used not only by local animal rescue groups but is also promoted by larger organizations like the ASPCA.

Do the research, learn the truth.

August 13, 2012
Here's another fun aspect of TNR that TNR-LIARS never bother to tell you.

Not long ago I learned that TNR cat-hoarders practice a form of "TNR-On-A-Budget" (my name for it). TNR cat-hoarders who want to keep feeding their cats but can't afford all that tedious mucking-about and getting them sterilized or vaccinated just trap the cats and clip the cats' ears themselves. Then release them again right after clipping their ears. Doing their best to hide all evidence of where they keep these colonies and telling few about them. This way the cat if trapped again just gets released right there so the cat-hoarder can continue to dote-over and feed their unsterilized and unvaccinated cats. Plus everyone else who might happen on their secret cat-hoarding locations thinks those cats are sterilized and vaccinated so they have fewer concerns about them still overbreeding or spreading deadly diseases. The TNR cat-hoarder feeder just tells them, "Oh, don't worry. See that clipped ear? They are sterilized and vaccinated. Perfectly fine and legal!"

Thanks to these "TNR-On-A-Budget" psychotics, clipped-eared cats must be trapped and euthanized or destroyed on-site -- the only affordable and sane solution for everyone.

Here's proof, post taken from

"Chris Cook

We had a culling of the neighborhood cats 2 years ago when there were only 10 or so (I lost 4 under my care in the same week). Now there's over 25 - that I know about (about half fixed)... it's just a matter of time before someone decides they have the 'solution' to the cat 'problem'. All I can do is get them tipped (in case Animal Services gets them, there's a small chance they'll release them back to the area they caught them) and hope for the best by making my own yard a hidden sanctuary of sorts. At least my HOA knows I'm TNRing them and not just feeding them so they (for now) look the other way while slamming the feeders-and-breeders who contributed to the problem getting out of hand and refusing any and all offers of assistance."

Not only is this criminally irresponsible TNR practitioner hoarding and feeding unsterilized cats, she even attracted MORE cats to keep reproducing -- which again disproves their oft-spewed "vacuum effect" LIE. While also lying to her HOA to boot. She even believes that what she is doing _is_ TNR, that's just how demented these people are. I'd say this person reflects the norm rather than the exception, since TNR advocates relentlessly lie about so much and so often.

Hint: for those of you permanently solving cat-hoarder's ILLEGAL TNR invasive-species colonies by stepping up their rate of "attrition" (i.e. death by any means necessary); look around for any game/field/trail-cameras that might be hidden from immediate view, then collect them as a souvenir and payment for your well-deserved efforts.
August 13, 2012

FACT: Trap & Kill failed because cats cannot be trapped faster than they exponentially breed out of control.

FACT: Trap & Sterilize (TNR) is an even bigger abject failure because these man-made ecological disasters cannot be trapped faster than they exponentially breed out of control, and they also continue the cruelly annihilate all native wildlife (from the smallest of prey up to the top predators that are starved to death), and the cats continue to spread many deadly diseases that they carry today -- FOR WHICH THERE ARE NO VACCINES AGAINST THEM. Many of which are even listed as bioterrorism agents. (Such as Tularemia and The Plague -- Yes, people have already died from cat-transmitted plague in the USA. No fleas nor rats even required. The cats themselves carry and transmit the plague all on their own.)

FACT: THERE IS ABSOLUTELY _NOTHING_ HUMANE ABOUT TNR. Nearly every last TNR'ed cat dies an inhumane death by road-kill, from cat and animal attacks, environmental poisons, starvation, dehydration, freezing to death, infections, parasites, etc. And if very very lucky humanely shot to death or re-trapped and drowned (the two most common methods employed on all farms and ranches to protect their gestating livestock's offspring and valuable native wildlife dying from cats' Toxoplasmosis parasites). This doesn't begin to count the thousands of defenseless native animals that cats skin alive and disembowel alive for their daily and hourly play-toys. The only difference in destroying cats immediately and humanely instead of trapping, sterilizing, then releasing them to an inhumane death; is that money isn't going into an HSUS or SPCA board-member's pocket, veterinarian's pocket, cat-food company CEO's pocket, or a drug-company CEO's pocket. And that's the ONLY difference!

FACT: Cats are a man-made (through selective breeding) invasive species. And as such, are no less of a man-made environmental disaster than any other caused by man. Cats are even worse than an oil-spill of continent-sized proportions. They not only kill off rare and endangered marine-mammals along all coastlines from run-off carrying cats' Toxoplasma gondii parasites, they destroy the complete food-chain in every ecosystem where cats are found. From smallest of prey gutted and skinned alive for cats' tortured play-toys, up to the top predators that are starved to death from cats destroying their ONLY food sources. (Precisely what cats caused on my own land not long ago.)

FACT: Hunted To Extinction (or in this case, extirpation of all outdoor cats) is the ONLY method that is faster than a species like cats can exponentially out-breed and out-adapt to. Especially a man-made invasive species like these cats that can breed 2-4X's faster than any naturally occurring cat-species.

FACT: Alley Cat ALL-LIES of NYC have reduced feral cats in their own city by 0.08% to 0.024% (as the months go on that percentage becomes more insignificant), allowing more than 99.92% to 99.976% to exponentially breed out of control. Here's how Alley-Cat-ALL-LIES' deceptive math works: If you TNR 4 cats and 3 get flattened by cars this translates to 75% fewer feral-cats everywhere. Alley Cat ALL-LIES can't even reduce cats in their own city, yet they promote it as a worldwide solution. Then even bigger fools fall for it and promote it.

FACT: When researching over 100 of the most "successful" TNR programs worldwide, JUST ONE trapped more than 0.4%. Oregon's 50,000 TNR'ed cats (the highest rate I found) is 4.9% of all ferals in their state. Yet, by applying population growth calculus on the unsterilized 95.1% they will have trapped only 0.35% of all cats in their state sometime this year. FACT: Their mythical "vacuum effect" is a 100% LIE. A study done by the Texas A&M University proved that any perceived "vacuum" is just the simple case that CATS ATTRACT CATS. Get rid of them all and there's no cats there to attract more. I proved this myself by shooting and burying hundreds of them on my own land. ZERO cats replaced them FOR OVER 2 YEARS NOW. If you want more cats, keep even one of them around, more will find you. That university study also found that sterilized cats very poorly defend any territory. Non-sterilized cats, being more aggressive, take over the sterilized cats' resources (shelter & food if any). If there is any kind of "vacuum effect" at all, it is that sterilizing cats cause non-sterilized cats to restore the reproductive void.

FACT: During all this investigation I have discovered something that is unfaltering without fail. Something that you can bet your very life on and win every last time. That being -- IF A TNR CAT-HOARDER IS TALKING THEN THEY ARE LYING. 100% guaranteed!