Our Story

Eric and the Grand KidsIn 1996, Eric & Amber Snethen migrated from a nice Orange County California neighborhood to the beautiful desert town of Boulder City Nevada. They were retiring from many years of service in the Orange County judicial system and looking forward to enjoying the peaceful beauty of desert life.

They both had been animal lovers their entire lives, but while in Boulder City this grew into something more. Amber and her mother Judy made a weekend outing to the Laughlin River Walk in June 1996. They noticed a lot of stray and wild cats all along the river walk. Amber heard a faint cry behind one of the casinos and upon checking, found a 7-10 day old kitten. It was alone in an old pickup toolbox, obviously hungry and frightened. This kitten, named “Pebbles” became the first of thousands of felines rescued by Amber. An extensive trap, alter and release program began almost immediately at the River Walk. Most of the casinos were happy with the program and cooperated by letting Amber and Eric place safe and humane traps on their property. Before Eric and Amber knew it, an entire room inside their beautiful golf coarse home and more than half the three car garage was the home of recuperating feral cats and their kittens.

New PropertyIt wasn’t long after this that it became evident that they needed more room and decided to sell the home in Boulder City and move to a rural area just few miles North of Searchlight Nevada. They purchased a 5th wheel trailer for the property to live in and erected two buildings with screened, concrete patios for the rescued cats… they called it the Sanctuary.

Before they knew it, more than 100 cats were calling this little plot of land in Southern Nevada home. New Sanctuary Most of the kittens were easily adopted as long as they were healthy, but the older and typically more feral cats were just not going to find a good home, so the Sanctuary became their home.

As the numbers of permanent members continued to grow, they needed to find a place for them which provided more room for growth. In 2002, Eric & Amber purchased a really nice 12 acre parcel in the same general vicinity just North of Searchlight Nevada. This would give them all the room they needed for their ever growing colony of kitties and provide the comfort, health, and wellbeing of the adult cats.

New SanctuaryIf you’ve never been to Southern Nevada, the weather can be quite extreme… upwards of 120 degrees F in the summer and down into the 30’s in the winter with the occasional snow flurry and tornado tossed in just for fun. With these extreme conditions, housing for the cats could be a challenge, but after some significant research and planning, the construction of the new Sanctuary building was ready to begin.

The plan was to use bales of straw as the walls of the structure to give it incredible insulation and help control the environment throughout the year.Power for the Property This was no small undertaking as the building was going to be around 2,600 sqft with the majority of the work being done by Eric and his brother David along with some wonderful volunteers. The first bale of straw was placed on June 5, 2003. The work was hard and the hours long and Mother Nature didn’t seem to want it to get finished, but the brothers persisted and the new Sanctuary is home to more than 100 cats today.

Extra Space For The KittiesAt any given time, there can be several hundred cats and kittens out on the property, so if they aren’t local residents of the main Sanctuary, there are several mobile homes that have been donated and converted into homes for the remaining cats.

Amber and her volunteer group handle the majority of the adoptions. They rotate between several locations, but are typically out in the Las Vegas & Henderson areas each weekend. You can go to the adoption page to learn more about adopting one of these wonderful animals.

Over the past several years, the group has expanded its rescue efforts to include dogs as well as our feline friends and as a result, Happy Home Animal Sanctuary was formed.

A Helper A Dinner TimeAs you can imagine, an organization like this takes a significant amount of time and money to keep it going. A large amount comes from Eric & Amber’s personal funds and the rest comes through donations to the group. If you are able, please help us continue this great work by making a donation. You can learn more about how you can help on our donation page.


Our Story — 18 Comments

  1. It is so heartwarming and inspiring to come across people like you who have the means and passion to run this type of facility. I came across your website after reading about the entombed kittens at the apartment complex. All I can say is this world needs many more compassionate people such as yourselves. Thank you for all you do for the feral cats and now dogs. 🙂

  2. Hello,
    We live in California and have a family of 6 feral cats that we feed and have been spayed and neutored. Two of them sleep inside with us and the rest stay outside very happy and comfortable. Another family of kittens has appeared on our doorstep and we are feeding them, but can not keep and feed 11 cats. We have a home in Boulder City and if you have room we would like to come and check your place at Searchlight the next time we go up to Boulder City. These kittens are sweet and a few will let you handle them and touch them. Please Help! They do deserve to have a happy life, but not in our rural neighborhood because our neighbors will complain.
    Thank you, Karen Tucker

  3. Tracy! GREAT job on the website!
    Eric & Amber and all the volunteers you are truly a blessing to all the lost animlas of the Las Vegas & Henderson areas. God bless all of you and thank you for taking care of the animlas!

  4. Hi Amber … Jim and I have adopted 4 cats from Happy Home Animal Sanctuary.
    Punkin (aka NOSEY SCARFACE)
    Nathan Tail (little bob-tail cat)
    Seraphina Be-Be
    Cinders (aka Cinderella and/or Tortileni)

  5. Last November I went to Petsmart, my sister and I always stop by and play with the cats. This time while in there, a Black kitten climbed on my lap and I immediately fell in love. I didn’t have to think twice before I brought Jack home with me. It’s only been a little over 4 months and Jack has become my sidekick, he’s always by my side and so affectionate. I could not thank you enough for taking such good care of him before he and I found each other!

  6. Just wanted to thank you for reaffirming my belief in the kindness and goodness that people are capable of. If everyone did what they could it would be a much better place for animals. I have 3 cats that all chose me, they needed a home and I needed their unconditional love. 🙂 God seems to know what my finances and my stamina can take. I always seem to have 3 pets that needed a home.

  7. Hi Amber,

    My husband and I lost Susie, our 15-1/2-year-old Min. Schnauzer in April. We knew it was time but it was very hard. A month later we found Stacy, a beautiful little Min. Schnauzer, through H.H.A.S. Stacy got along great with Amy, our 9-year-old Min. Schnauzer, and our two senior cats. One month later Amy died of heart failure and we were devastated. Thank you for taking in Stacy when she had lost her home and giving us a chance to adopt her. We appreciated all the kindness we received from you and your volunteers. It was just meant to be as Stacy is now an active part of our family. She is so
    funny and loving and we couldn’t be more pleased. I can’t imagine what our life would be right now without her. God Bless You and everything you do
    for the animals you rescue and find new homes.

  8. Amber went above and beyond the call of duty, so to speak, for me. I answered an ad this week for a lost dog in LV. I had a small “runner” dog that got away from me that I was watching and Amber even came out early this morning to look for her…she truly is an animal lover!

    Thanks Amber!

  9. just wanted to update you about the cats at ups. you did a fantastic thing. there have been no new pregnancies, and we are down to around 6 to 9 cats! several people feed them daily and give them water. all are healthy. thanks so much!!!

  10. There are not enough THANK YOUs that I could give Amber and the staff at Happy Home. Amber and the people at Happy Home were angels sent from heaven.

    Amber’s dedication to animals was a gift of peace of mind and knowledge that an abandoned, sickly kitty would have a good home. Sparticus (what we ultimately named him) was an abandoned neighborhood cat I had begun to feed out of sympathy. I couldn’t keep him as a family pet and it broke my heart to leave him to fend for himself outdooors.

    Her kindness and dedication meant that Sparticus ended up in a great home-and no longer had to live outdoors. Amber was the ONLY person/organization who even took the time to respond to my communications and ultimately found room for Sparticus at Happy Home.

  11. Thank you for taking care of the kitties! I just left Laughlin yesterday (03/20/2014) and there is still a HUGE feral cat population there! Please help them! They are there from the Riverside down to the Golden Nugget and beyond! Bless your souls for helping those in need who need a voice!

  12. I adopted Nicolas and Aleksandra 14 years ago and they are still happy, healthy and loved. Thank you Amber for allowing me the opportunity to be their Mommy.

  13. Amber, I will never forget that day in 2005 when I was again leaving Petsmart on Stephanie after admiring at all the cats and kittens when you walked up to me, put your arm around me and said “You and I need to talk; I’ve watched you come in here for over a year now looking at the cats.” I took my little Mamita Marie home that very afternoon and she will forever be the love of my life. I lost her in November 2012 to lymphosarcoma but the seven years we spent together were so full of joy. I still have my handsome big boy 6-year Milton and adopted petite Meribelle Rose when he cried at night after losing Mamita. They are best buds now and the happiness we three enjoy now is all thanks to you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

  14. I cannot adequately express my gratitude to Amber and her team of rescuers (namely, Judy and April) that came out to my apartment complex in such a timely manner today and rescued a couple of abandoned poodles and a stray cat. You cannot be commended enough for the fantastic job you do. Very professional and efficient! Bless you all for your dedication in saving these innocent creatures.

  15. Thank you Amber for introducing us to the newest member of our family! We just adopted our American Bully from Happy Home 4 days ago, and she has already made herself at home and joined the family. She is the best dog we could ask for, when she isn’t playing with my kids she is taking up all the room on their bed. Amber and all the volunteers were great in making sure Roxy (AKA Little) was a good fit for our family and that she was taken care of. I can’t say enough good things about these wonderful people. Thank you again!

  16. 15 years ago I walked into PetSmart and walked out with the most wonderful kitten named Simon. A year or so later, Amber told me of another cat she had rescued, Simba. They have been such a joy in my life. Although Simba has passed, Simon is still a blessing to us. Thank you isn’t enough for all Amber and her family do for the animals..I wish more people had her love for animals. Bless you and yours, and everyone who helps to keep the animals safe and happy.


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