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How our story began

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Rover's do over

Chelsea Williamson, Founder

Chelsea has over 13 years of experience from her various roles in animal welfare. Her love and advocation for animals has been a part of her for as long as she can remember and she always dreamed of opening an animal sanctuary for the misguided, misunderstood and mistreated.

 

In 2023, after nearly a decade of planning, hard work and determination, she has merged her extensive experience, knowledge and skills with her immense passion to form Central New York's newest animal rescue, Rover’s Do Over.

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I have always felt like I was put on this Earth to help animals. It is who
I am to my core. It is my purpose. My entire life has been leading up to this moment - the moment where I am able to put into action everything I have been working toward.
Chelsea Williamson, Founder

From a young age, Chelsea exhibited kindness and empathy that set her apart from others, finding comfort and joy in the companionship of her furry friends. As she grew older, Chelsea’s love for animals only intensified, solidifying her desire to make a difference in their lives. 

When she wasn't bringing home every stray animal she could find, she was running her successful dog walking business--at just 10 years old! Once she was old enough, Chelsea began volunteering at local animal shelters & sanctuaries where her passion continued to grow.

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As she grew older, she began working at a local animal hospital and doggie daycare. As soon as she turned 18 years old, the age required to work at the humane society, she began working there, too.

Chelsea began her college education on a pre-veterinarian track, but quickly changed her mind and shifted her studies to business while staying focused on animal welfare - her first priority.

Education & Experience

Chelsea obtained a bachelor’s degree in business from Syracuse University at Utica College and has nine years of in-field sales and business experience in the veterinary industry. During college, she spent every summer volunteering at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Southern Utah - the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the country. Her experiences at Best Friends were life-changing, to say the least, and continued to fuel her passion for animal welfare. Chelsea took the new initiatives and ideas she learned during her time at Best Friends and introduced them to her local shelter, where she created and took on the role of a brand-new position, Rescue Coordinator. The new role allowed her to network and partner with animal organizations all over the Northeast, eliminating the need to euthanize animals for space. This was one of the key driving factors behind the local shelter becoming a no-kill facility.

In 2013, going into her senior year of college, she completed a 12 week-long internship with Best Friends Animal Sanctuary where she further developed her knowledge and skills. Upon returning to school, she decided to take her classes at night so that she would have more time to dedicate to making an impact on the animals in need and saving more lives. 

Chelsea finished off her senior year of college by entering the 2014 NYS Business Plan Competition with an idea called "The Barking Lot - where every visit helps save a life!"

She designed "The Barking Lot" as a business that would help fund an animal rescue - which is where the name of her dream was born - Rover's Do Over.

"The Barking Lot" won first place in the Mohawk Valley Regional Qualifiers.

Most recently, Chelsea completed a course at Southern Utah University and Best Friends Animal Society. She received her certificate for the invasive course, "Running a Lifesaving Animal Sanctuary and Rescue," in May 2023. 

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The idea was born

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Est. 2023

Rover's do over

words from chelsea

In the 11 years I spent working at a local humane society I noticed a pattern. There were so many animals that tended to "slip through the cracks" - they were overlooked, given up on or forgotten about. These were the ones that took extra time to prepare for adoption, and even longer to hopefully get adopted. The reasons these situations kept occuring were obvious and could have had simple solutions, but due to the environment of the high-volume shelter, fixing them was far from simple. In a high-volume shelter, it can be extremely hard to provide individualized care. These "difficult" animals were always the ones I found myself gravitating to - and many times, going to battle for to ensure they were given the same priority and opportunities as the "easier" animals. I was dedicated to finding them the additional resources they deserved so they could blossom into the great pet I knew they could be.

 

Whether it was fostering day-old kittens so they had a chance to survive, welcoming a terrified mom and her puppies into my home because she wouldn’t let staff near her, or spending countless lunch breaks sitting quietly in a kennel waiting for a terrified, trembling dog to finally build up the courage to sniff me, I was committed to rooting for the underdog and doing whatever I could to give them a fighting chance and make an impact on their lives.

I always dreamed and planned to open my own animal sanctuary. It was only a matter of time. I could burst into tears of joy that that time has finally come. Given my personal experiences, it only made sense that the population of dogs I would choose to focus on when creating my own rescue and sanctuary would be the misguided, mistreated and misunderstood.

In early 2022, I dusted off my old business plan from college and began to develop my ideas further. I decided to keep the name I had chosen all those years ago, Rover’s Do Over because it perfectly describes the animals I want to help. The animals who are overlooked, who didn’t make a great first impression on shelter staff, who are so afraid and traumatized from their past or just from being in a stressful environment. These are the animals I am going to help. These are the animals who need a ‘do-over.” I also want to give people who are just as passionate about animals the opportunity to get involved and help make a difference. I promise you it is the greatest feeling in the world to take an animal who has given up or shut down and watch them blossom into the beautiful soul that is inside of them. I hope you’ll join me.

- Chelsea

A 2010 drawing by Chelsea illustrating the number of dogs who enter a shelter vs the number who actually leave.
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