HART for Animals, Inc. was founded in 2003 by Caroline Robison and Candy DeGiovanni. Its original name was H.A.R.T. of Garrett County, Inc., with the initials representing the organization’s core mission: Homeless Animal Rescue and Transport. In August 2003, the IRS granted the organization its tax-exempt status under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Since its founding, HART has worked with the Garrett County Animal Shelter to save the lives of homeless pets that would otherwise be euthanized. To prevent the spread of disease, HART vaccinates all puppies and kittens received at the county shelter. An extensive network of rescue organizations and shelters transport volunteers has enabled HART to save more than 600 animals each year.
During the last five years, the Garrett County Shelter has averaged 1,240 incoming animals each year. Of these, 7 % were returned to the owner, 9 % were adopted, 40% were euthanized, and 44% were rescued and transported out of the county by HART volunteers to be adopted elsewhere.
By the summer of 2007, H.A.R.T. realized that rescue and transport alone would not be a permanent solution for the hundreds of homeless pets arriving at the Garrett County Shelter every year. The organization changed its name to HART for Animals to reflect a larger purpose–building a first-class animal adoption center for Garrett County and the region by raising private funds. In November, 2007, the Garrett County Commissioners showed their support for HART's undertaking by agreeing to donate the land on bumble Bee Road in McHenry, MD, on which an adoption center could be built.
Major milestones since that time include:
In 2009, HART’s Board of Directors decided that an interim low-cost spay/neuter clinic was the most effective way to reduce the growing homeless animal population. In December, the HART Clinic opened to provide low-cost surgeries for the pets of people who would not be able to afford them otherwise. HART performed 836 surgeries in 2010, and vaccinated 730 animals against rabies.
By the end of 2010, HART’s volunteer transporters, who have averaged about 600 animals rescued each year since 2004–had taken a total of 4,183 out of the county to reputable adoption facilities around the region.
In 2011, HART held its groundbreaking ceremony for the first phase of the adoption center and the site has been cleared and made ready for the foundation. As of that date, HART had raised $450,000 of the projected $1.5M that it will cost to build the adoption center.