The HART Animal Adoption Wing was officially opened on Friday, April 15, in the presence of representatives from federal, state, and local government, volunteers, supporters and staff. When the ribbon was cut, the audience’s spontaneous applause affirmed the words that inspired the people behind HART: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” After ten years, HART’s dream of a place for homeless animals was now a beautiful reality.
The Adoption Wing is the final phase of the 12,000 square foot facility. Construction of the Adoption Wing began in April 2015 and was completed in March 2016. Phase 1 of the Center opened in February 2014 and includes the Bredel Veterinary Clinic, the Bed ‘n Bark Inn pet hotel, MuttWorks grooming, and the HART Shoppe.
Dr. Bill McGowan, USDA Rural Development Director for Maryland and Delaware, opened the ceremony commenting on their relationship with HART. “USDA Rural Development has been a partner with HART since 2012 when we began working with them on Phase 1 to build a new animal center,” says Dr. McGowan. “It’s been two years since I was here last for the Grand Opening of the Animal Center and today we are celebrating the completion of Phase 2 – the Adoption Wing.” Dr. McGowan noted that the HART Animal Center is an example of what can be accomplished in a small community when volunteers, organizations, and government join together.
In addition to Dr. McGowan, other speakers included Julianna Albowicz, representing Senator Mikulski; Robin Summerfield, representing Senator Cardin; Joseph Montano, representing Congressman Delaney; Senator George Edwards; Delegate Wendell Beitzel; Garrett County Commissioner Paul Edwards; HART President Kelli Palamar; past President and Construction Chair Michael Pellet; and Executive Director Paula Yudelevit.
The ribbon cutting ceremony signified the importance of the Adoption Wing to the community. “The Adoption Wing is the reason for the HART Animal Center,” said Kelli Palamar, President. “Because the Adoption Wing does not generate revenue to support itself, there had to be a reliable way to create revenue to pay for the operational expenses. The animal-related services in Phase 1 of the Center serves the general public and funds the operations of the Center.”
The HART Adoption Wing will house 60 cats and 60 dogs, and multiple litters of kittens and puppies. The common areas include an exercise room to help socialize animals prior to adoption, separate food preparation areas for cats and dogs, and a laundry area. “Meet and Greet” rooms are available for potential adopters to play and interact with potential pets.
“The operation of the Adoption Wing is completely dependent on donations and grants,” explains Mercedes Pellet, Treasurer and Development Director. “We built the HART Center with money we raised ourselves, thanks to the generosity of many people, the USDA and the ARC grant. We will always need the public’s help in the form of donations of money, items and volunteering. Currently, we are completing our building campaign to raise $150,000 by offering commemorative plaques and pavers honoring individuals or beloved pets.”
In keeping with its mission to improve the condition of animals in Western Maryland, HART works closely with the Garrett County Animal Shelter to rescue homeless animals and find them permanent homes. Since it began in 2003, HART has worked with larger rescue groups to save the lives of 7,096 animals, and has provided low-cost and no-cost spay/neuters for 6,748 dogs and cats.
Ms. Pellet continued, “These statistics are important, but beyond that, there is something that deeply matters to the people who founded HART and support its animal activities. This is the concept that it is not possible to help the animals without helping the people who own or love those animals.”
HART has created 30 permanent jobs in the county and works closely with the Garrett College veterinary assistant training program. More than 150 volunteers also assist with the care of the animals in the Adoption Wing.
“HART has become a very popular educational field trip destination,” remarks Paula Yudelevit, Executive Director. “We host school groups from as young as kindergarteners to teens in high school. While the younger ones watch our veterinarian, Dr. Jennifer Barnard, ‘operate’ on a stuffed animal, the teens have the opportunity to watch actual spay/neuter surgeries. They all learn the importance of animal care.”
For additional information on HART, the HART Animal Center or any of its programs, or to donate, visit the HART web site at www.hartforanimals.org or become part of the HART for Animals community on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HARTforAnimals.