Yaghi’s service wins $25K for Fairfield shelter

Yaghi’s $25,000 award will be put toward a new shelter for the county. | Contributed

WINNSBORO – According to those who know her, Fairfield County Animal Shelter volunteer Samira Yaghi is the personification of a hero. And on Monday, out of five finalists nationwide, Yaghi was named Petco’s National Unsung Hero for her volunteer work with the Fairfield County Animal Shelter. And that honor brings with it $25,000 to the Fairfield County Animal Shelter.

With the shelter facing as much as a 10 percent cutback in the county budget for the upcoming year, the award may well turn out to be a lifeline for many of the shelter’s animals.

Not only Is Yaghi a dedicated volunteer, but her many hours and efforts have helped reduce euthanasia in the shelter and have impacted the lives of over 4,000 animals, according to Shelter Director Bob Innes.


“We bring in around 1,800 animals a year and our shelter is built for only 25,” Innes said. “We also use the old shelter which Sam calls the dungeon. It’s always full. But Sam has us so well connected with rescue organizations around the state and the country that we never have to euthanize for space. With Sam’s help, many wonderful rescues take many of those animals. Sam makes most of that possible. She’s a godsend,” he said.

“Sam has different jobs here at the shelter. To be honest without Sam’s work, we would have no choice but to euthanize many of them,” Innes said.

After her day job ends, Yaghi travels to Winnsboro to her unpaid job at the shelter.

“I am the rescue coordinator so I recruit and search for rescue partners to help the shelter so we can work with transfers getting the animals out,” Yaghi said. “Rescue is our lifeline.”

Yaghi also works with staff and other volunteers to brainstorm ideas for raising funds for the shelter.

“Sam does a great job,” Innes said. “She always comes through to help find rescues to take our animals.”

“She’s always on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, everywhere trying to get our animals out,” said Shelly Sentress, who is with the county government. “She will even take a dog in hospice care and make sure that it has a final good home. She just doesn’t stop.”

Yaghi says she’s over-the-moon happy with the award.

“My greatest joy is to get that money for the animals. It’s a win for all of them,” she said.

Innes said the $25,000 award will go toward a new shelter for the county.


  1. A. Pearson says

    Ms. Ball, this is a fantastic, well-written article. To Ms. Yaghi: I am so proud and grateful for your commitment and dedication to our animal friends. I look forward to meeting you in the near future.
    I envision working with you and the County towards the care of our precious companions.
    Again, I appreciate you and congratulations!

  2. Trisha Stack says

    I have had the honor of working with both Sam and Bob and I couldn’t be more proud of all the accomplishments they have to overcome. We are their voices. And Sam is truly the best at being their voice. Congratulations. The animals will be looked after always with her by their side.

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