In 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.
It 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. 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.
If 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. 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.
At 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.
As 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.