Whether you are a “cat person” or a “dog person”, this month we are spotlighting a group that every pet-friendly Alexandrian should know about. With June being adopt-a-cat month, we thought it was appropriate to spread the word about the great work being done by the Homeless Animals Rescue Team (HART). This organization is near and dear to my heart, as I have been a volunteer, foster parent, and was lucky enough to adopt my dog through HART five years ago. I am honored and grateful to share with you the amazing and selfless work that is accomplished each day by HART and its loyal supporters.
HART is a non-profit 501(c)(3) no-kill animal rescue and support group, which was incorporated in 1990, and is based out of Northern Virginia. This group of dedicated volunteers and staff take in and relocate abused and unwanted animals, working with local veterinarians, foster homes, kennels, and trainers to provide temporary housing and medical care until they are placed in a loving, carefully-screened new home.
They seek to direct resources where they are most needed in animal welfare, and the volunteers of HART make it their mission to alleviate or prevent suffering wherever they find it. They take in older, sick, and injured animals as well as those who are ready to adopt. In addition to these services, HART also helps people who require assistance caring for their pets due to failing health, financial, or other personal circumstances. They also assist those who can no longer keep their pets by finding a responsible and loving new home for the animal.
What sets HART apart from other rescue organizations and animal shelters? Meg Hart, who joined the HART community after adopting her dog in 2006, explains it best; “we love what we do and want to save as many pets as humanly possible. We use our best judgment and draw on our many years of experience whenever we pull an animal or make a placement. We want all of our matches to be successful. Yes, higher adoptions are always fantastic, but we are all about quality not quantity.”
Not only is HART a tight-knit community of animal lovers, they are dedicated to the well-being and safety of the dogs and cats that they care for, even after they are adopted. The adoption contract even states that should the dog or cat not work out for any reason the animal should be returned HART. Whether it is three days or five years, these animals will always have a home at HART and will never have to worry about being placed in unsafe environment. As Meg says, “once a HART animal, always a HART animal”.
Next year marks HART’s 25th anniversary and they plan celebrate this milestone with their dedicated volunteers and supporters. When asked what the future will bring, Meg confirmed that they will continue to educate people about the benefits of spaying/neutering, basic pet care, and debunk the myths of the shelter animal. HART will also be giving back to the community by partnering in an array of programs with the support of other non-profits, to include reading programs for children, therapy animals, and local food drives for homeless shelters.
Want to get involved? Volunteering is easy, and offers the opportunity to meet others and spend time outside and with animals, not to mention the invaluable experience of helping those who cannot help themselves. If you are interested in learning more about HART, the adoption process, and how to volunteer or foster, simply visit www.hart90.org, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. While visiting www.hart90.org, take a moment to meet the cats and dogs of HART, who are listed online with information about their breed and background. Both dog and cat people alike, thanks to all who support HART and the other great rescue organizations out there making a difference in tackling the ever-growing homeless animal population.
Written by: Elizabeth Jones