H.A.R.T.'s Open Door Policy

Several years ago the board of directors voted to classify HART as an “Open Door Shelter". This means no stray, abandoned or neglected animal will be turned away if there is kennel space available. I would like to take this opportunity to explain how this policy works, and the many facets of the shelter with impound business.

HART is an open admissions humane society as well as the impound holding facility for an average of ten local municipalities. Although the two businesses are housed in the same building, they are two separate identities.

The shelter takes in all stray animals as they come through the door. If there is kennel space available. There is no fee assessed to these animals, but a donation to help care for them is always welcome. These animals are held for seven days when possible. In a case that the stray animal is sick, injured or aggressive, the animal may be humanely euthanized before the seven-day holding period is up. Stray animals are advertised. If not claimed by the end of the holding period, they will then be assessed for being placed up for adoption. If everything is “A OK”, the animal is placed on the HART adoption floor.

HART also takes in animals that have an owner, (personal surrenders) but who, for various reasons, the owner can no longer keep the pet. A surrender fee is assessed to personal surrendered animals. Personal surrendered animals go through the same testing procedures that stray surrenders do before being placed on the adoption floor.

Impound animals are brought to HART by either animal control or a law enforcement officer. These are animals that are running at large in an area contracted for animal control services. If the animal has identification, the officer will attempt to contact the owner before impounding it. All impound animals are held for contracted holding time. With the exception of sick, injured or highly aggressive animals. Animals are assessed and medically tested at the end of the impound hold and either are placed on the HART adoption floor or humanely euthanized. All owners claiming their animal from impound are required to pay the pick up fee set by the municipality as well as the daily impound fee before the animal will is released. Impound animals are the property of the municipality that authorized impounding. They only become property of HART if they are moved to the HART adoption floor.

These three scenarios reflect how HART takes in animals. Of course there will always be the ones tied to the front door or taped up in a box in the parking lot, that HART takes in.

I hope this will clear up some misconceptions that the public has about what HART really does. There is another question that I would like to address that goes hand in hand with how HART takes in animals.

This question is whether HART is a No-Kill shelter. The answer is no, and I would like to explain the reason why. HART cannot be a no kill facility because it is an Open Door shelter and impound holding facility: therefore, we often receive animals for which euthanasia is the most appropriate and humane option.

No-Kill shelters take in only a limited number of animals and the highly adoptable ones. If they are full No-Kill shelters do not take in one until one is adopted. HART does impound, and that means the dangerous, injured, sick animals need to be euthanized at the direction of law enforcement. The impound contracts make up a substantial dollar amount of the HART annual budget.

Another reason that HART has chosen to be an open admissions shelter is because there needs to be someplace for all these helpless animals to go. If a shelter only takes in the most desirable breeds, sizes, ages etc., who cares for the so called “misfits”? A No-Kill shelter has very limited intake, HART takes in an average of 3,000 annually. The adoption rate on dogs is excellent, but, unfortunately, this is not the case for cats. The cat overpopulation is an epidemic throughout the whole United States.

HART strives to be a Low-Kill shelter and does everything possible to make this happen. HART does an excellent job helping the animals in need.