H.A.R.T. Needs Your Help

On behalf of the HART Board of Directors and myself, I want to address the state of affairs at HART. Over the past fifteen to twenty years, HART has been very generous and accommodating to the Brainerd Lakes Area when it comes to taking in stray animals, especially cats.

HART contracts with sixteen area municipalities to do impound services for dogs; six of these municipalities also pay for cat impounding. All dogs and cats running at large in these contracted areas are brought to HART by law enforcement or animal control, if they can be caught. HART charges $16.00 a day to care for these animals. That fee is collected from the owner, if the animal is claimed, or from the municipality, if the animal is not claimed. But there are so many more stray animals in the area that do not fall under the contracts. These stray animals have been the sole responsibility of HART for numerous years. In HART’s fiscal year 2015 -2016, HART took in 531 cats and 263 dogs. So far this year, HART has taken in 427 adult cats. Several of these cats were pregnant and gave birth to 40 kittens at HART. Not quite as staggering is the stray dog count at 186.

HART receives absolutely no money from local or state governments or from national humane societies to care for them. The only money besides the impounding fees to care for the stray animals comes from generous donors and adoption fees.

HART’s dog adoption fee is $150.00. Wow, that sounds like a money maker right? Wrong. It costs on an average of $110.00 to prepare a dog for adoption and an average of $95.00 to prepare each cat. Every dog and cat has the following procedures done before being adopted: spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations, worming, microchipping and flea prevention. Additional medical services the animal may need nor the cost of caring for the animal is included in the basic preparation fee.

As a result a real crisis exists in our community, and we need to look for a solution. I have tried in vain to find a lasting solution for the better part of thirty years. This problem is not unique to

our area by any means. The cat crisis is nationwide. It is that age old question, “Whose responsibility is it to clean up this crisis?”

Many people say it is the sole responsibility of the humane society. HART is here to help, but financially and physically we cannot do it all. The shelter is licensed by the board of animal health to house 48 cats and 57 dogs. We have only so many kennels to house these animals. When we are full, we can’t take anymore. HART is a “low-kill” shelter, which means we do not take animals in just to euthanize them. Consequently we have to turn animals away if we are full. With the number of cats we take in, being full is a constant.

After the space issue comes the real elephant in the room, MONEY. HART operates on an annual budget of $380,000. The major source of income is the impound contracts, with donations, hopefully, covering the rest of our expenses. HART has been fortunate to stay afloat with these sources of income. But with the huge influx of animals, I am sad to say we are in desperate need of money to maintain the shelter and the quality of animal care the community has come to expect. HART did a major renovation in 2014 just to be able to maintain the shelter and the business. I am happy to say we received donations for this project, and the monthly mortgage is not a hardship on the budget. The majority of the budget is used for direct animal care.

I am asking if you can financially help HART at this time, please do. It is not the fault of these poor, homeless animals. It is the fault of the members of our community who are not responsible pet owners. It breaks my heart when I have to turn an animal away because HART does not have the room or finances to care for it. HART has taken in thousands of homeless animals and remained silent. We can no longer do that. We need the help of the community. I guess I am doing more than asking for donations, I am begging. If HART isn’t here, who will help these animals?

In conclusion, I would truly like to thank everyone who has ever stepped up to the plate and helped HART. It may seem like I am only seeing the worst in people today. I certainly am not. The good folks far outshine the ones who say, “It is your job. You have to take these animals”. I know our faithful donors and, hopefully, new ones who can help, will. Thank you in advance for your generosity.

If you can help with a donation here are some of the great opportunities available.

  • You can sign up for a direct monthly donation from your bank to HART.
  •  You can sponsor a week for $500 to help reduce the monthly mortgage, and have your
    business or family highlighted on the donation board at HART. Call HART (218) 829 4141 for
    more information.
  • Make a monetary donation here.
  • Pledge a monthly donation.
  • Remember HART in your estate/will planning.
  • Donate stock shares.