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Chester County Press

The puppies that found a home

05/25/2015 01:14PM ● By Richard Gaw

This is a story about how the love that is created through the bonding of human to animal can help both heal.

In the Landenberg home they grew up in, sisters Holly, Trisha Mae and Jen Samuel spent a majority of their respective childhoods surrounded by household pets of varying names. And yet, in the winter of 2012, their mother Saradawn found herself the victim of circumstance. Her husband had taken a job assignment in Arizona, her daughters had either moved out of the house or begun working, and the worst winter in recent memory was making its assault on Chester County

At that time, Holly was contacted by an independent puppy rescuer from the area. She had rescued a dog named Piper – a poodle mix -- from a nearby puppy mill. Because Holly was working countless hours as an attorney at her newly-formed law firm, she felt that it would be best if Saradawn took care of the dog. Immediately, Piper was welcomed into the home.

Six weeks later, the rescuer called again. She had pulled Phebe, Piper’s sister, from the puppy mill.  Within days, Phebe was reunited with Piper, at the Samuel home, but there was something different about the animals. While Piper seemed to acclimate to her new surroundings, Phebe was damaged. There were severe cuts all over her body from the cage she lived in. One side of her body was weaker than the other and, even worse, the owner of the puppy mill had begun to breed her with other dogs.

“My husband was in Arizona, and I was home alone in Landenberg, so it was just me and the dogs for the entire winter,” Saradawn said. “When we got Phebe, I saw this really broken dog who did not know how to be a puppy. She was frightened. She didn’t know how to play.”

For the past several years, Saradawn has taught piano lessons, and while she has enjoyed teaching, she has always loved to write. One day, while looking at Piper and Phebe playing together on the floor, the idea came to her to do both. Self-published by Stonegate Publishing House, “Piper and the Rescuer” was published in April. The story is taken right from Saradawn’s story of how she met Piper and Phebe – how they were raised in a puppy mill and how their journey found its way to a loving home.

A follow-up book, “Piper Finds a Home,” has been finished and is in the process of being printed. Written as a continuing series, Saradawn has already written eleven follow-up books; the third and fourth in the series are scheduled to be published in the fall. The books are illustrated by her daughter, Trisha Mae.

“My objective was to teach them the truth about puppy mills, but with sensitivity,” Saradawn said. “Our goal wasn’t to shock children, but to give them an awareness. I had never realized what a puppy mill was, until I got these dogs. Then I began to see the cruelty to these animals. As a teacher, if I could teach children and families that this could be a way to change hearts and educate, so that they, too, can make a difference.”

But the truth is in the statistics, Saradawn said.

“I can’t even walk by a pet store in the all anymore,” she said. “They put out this picture that is just not true, that these dogs are well cared for and come from a good environment. The truth is that they were born in a cage. Their mother lived in a cage, and 95 percent of the dogs that are for sale at a pet store were born in a puppy mill.”

Compassion runs deep in the Samuel family. Daughters Holly and Jen have started Elephants, D.C., a non-profit group devoted to saving wild elephants. They have raised awareness that has led to the end of ivory trade in New Jersey.

“We were raised in a very loving home and we were taught to make a difference and speak up about injustice,” Jen said. “The lost causes are the best causes to work for. My father was very open-minded about his children making a difference in the world.

“I was inspired that my mom chose to explore a creative side of herself that hadn’t been harvested yet,” Jen added. “There was a new mission in her life, that these dogs that she had brought into her home when my dad was working in Arizona had touched her heart, so much so that she wanted to make a difference. She not only wanted to, she felt compelled to.”

While she continues to develop the Piper series, Saradawn is looking to make connections to local schools and pet rescue shelters throughout the Chester County area. It’s a story she is ready to tell.

“I may have helped Piper and Phebe heal, but in a strange way, they helped me heal,” she said. “They touched my heart, and really taught me about loyalty and unconditional love.”

To order your books from the Piper series, visit or To contact Saradawn Samuel, or to schedule a reading or a visit to your school or dog rescue shelter, call 484-390-2877, or e-mail [email protected]. Ten percent of proceeds from the sale of these books are donated to non-profit animal rescue shelters.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail [email protected].


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