Visiting a shelter for special-needs cats and dogs…
She’s sophisticated, regal and just a tad bit aloof. Watching the world from her crow’s nest inside of Hearts Alive Village‘s “Cat Cottage”, Sadie (pictured above) is one of the rescue’s longest residents. A former feral who was part of a colony that was in a desperate situation when its caregiver died, Sadie and her companions were trapped and brought to Hearts Alive Village in April of 2014.
There Sadie remains, hoping to someday find a forever home as she looks out the window at the people who pass by…or stop in for a visit. She continues to make strides with her socialization skills, despite a harsh outdoor life, as she journeys towards happiness.
Sadie projects the character of a lady who’s seen plenty of adventure in her years. All of the other cats from Sadie’s colony have found permanent homes except for her and an FIV-positive senior named Tuffy. Perhaps she’s used up a couple of her nine lives, but Sadie’s face says “I could tell you a number of amazing stories…if you’d bring me home and listen to my tale”.
Every animal at Hearts Alive Village has a story to tell. Most of them would start off with the wide-eyed innocence of puppy or kitten life, then take a sad turn to abandonment…or injury…or illness. Often these factors come together until the pets are at serious risk of being euthanized at the valley’s local shelters.
That’s where Hearts Alive Village comes in. This all-volunteer organization (except for one veterinary professional who works part time) came together to assist animals facing the threat of “being lost in the shelter system”.
Hearts Alive Village sprang from a concept by Christy Stevens, President and Founder of HAVLV. Wishing became reality when her daughter Kendall expressed a classroom desire to aid needy animals. Turning that dream into an actual, functioning organization was no easy task. Then again, projects that arise from a desire to make a difference rarely are.
It has indeed taken a village to make Hearts Alive the effective organization that it has become. Countless volunteers and agencies have donated their time, money, living spaces, emotions and tears to rescuing and providing homes and supplies for these needy pets…and the loving humans who parent and foster them.
Since coming together in 2013, the dedicated troupe:
– Saved over 700 dogs and cats from being lost in the shelter system.
– Feeds as many as 300 pets in low income homes each month.
– Assisted more than 200 community animals with training, medical assistance, spay and neuter…and more.
– Taught more than 500 children how to be responsible pet owners, approach animals safely and be kind to all living creatures.
– Became a Best Friends Animal Society network partner
I first learned about Hearts Alive Village while reviewing Richard Marx’s show at the Flamingo. Seated at our table was Sheryl Greenblatt, Communications Director for HAVLV. Casual conversation turned toward love of animals, and Sheryl told me about her involvement with Hearts Alive. I promised to visit in the near future and did so last week.
At the beginning, HAVLV focused their efforts on finding foster homes…and permanent homes…for exceptional-need animals. I learned recently that my friend Lisa Watson, who has a veterinary background, currently fosters for them. She shared a heartwarming rescue story she is involved in, centered around a misunderstood pit bull with time running out:
I found out about Hearts Alive when I saw a plea on FB about a pit bull in L.A., Bella, who was on the list to be put down. Bella had spent the majority of her life in a shelter, adopted and returned 5 times. Some said she was bad with kids, others say she was aggressive.
There’s a program that puts dogs who are at shelters with a foster family for a week during the Fourth of July, since this is when most shelters reach max capacity due to dogs being scared and they get lost.
So a friend of Hearts Alive fostered Bella during that time. When she was returned to the shelter she was put on the kill list. Her previous foster mom sent out a plea for help because Bella is the kindest most gentle dog she had ever met.
Cera Ward takes Bella on her “freedom ride”…
My family was just finishing up fostering a round of kittens and thought it was time for a dog to foster. Turns out that my best friend Cera Ward was in L. A. and rushed to save Bella. She drove 5 hours back to Vegas and we’ve had her ever since. She was seen at Legacy Animal Hospital, who welcomed her with open arms.
Hearts Alive provides all food and medical to the foster family and we provide a stable home environment that makes them easier to adopt out once they’re ready. It really does take a village to make all of this possible.
– Lisa Watson, a Hearts Alive Village foster parent…
In the days before becoming an actual shelter, the volunteers of Hearts Alive did everything they could to find homes for pets….and assist those who were surrendering theirs to shelters. Sheryl told me how she would stand across the street from a local Humane Society, stopping people to offer Solutions Over Surrenders, asking what it would take for them to reconsider giving up their pets.
Sometimes all it took was something as simple as a crate if the animal was wetting in the home. Or maybe they needed pet food or medical treatments they couldn’t afford. Luckily, we receive donations and could offer help to these people. In the end, they never wanted to give up their pets. They were making desperate decisions in desperate times.
The back room of Hearts Alive Village’s retail store and adoption center is well-stocked with quality foods, toys, carriers and crates. Dubbed Kendall’s Kupboard after Christy’s daughter, the beautifully-organized area stores donations of all kinds. They are then funneled back into the community, assisting families who love their pets but are of limited means to provide for them.
Speaking of the store and adoption center, it’s a great place to visit when the excitement and indulgences of Vegas are wearing you down. The Cat Cottage is a wonderfully comfortable and clean room where you can relax or study while the kitties visit with you. The serene atmosphere is therapeutic…without the cost of a spa.
All of the Cat Cottage residents are up for adoption, too. My heart was stolen by the wonderful Squeek, whom I fell in love with on my visit. Squeek has been a resident since early 2015. You read that correctly…unadopted for two and a half years. Fortunately, Squeek is healthy, safe and loved by everyone…especially those who can charm this fiercely independent heart-breaker.
Squeek has been waiting for a home for two and a half years…
I’ve been told that Squeek can have an unpredictable personality, but she was on her best behavior that Saturday afternoon. If you’d like to see about adopting Squeek or any of the cats and dogs at Hearts Alive Village, come down to meet them or call (702) 870-0065 to find out more.
The adoption center is also a store that offers a wide variety of quality pet products, food and treats. Christy told me that their prices are the lowest you’ll find anywhere. Plus, there is no sales tax since the not-for-profit proceeds are used to fund the charity’s operations. The center is located at 1750 S Rainbow Blvd #4 between Sahara Avenue and West Charleston Blvd.
Along with active pet adoptions through their own location and pet stores, Hearts Alive Village does plenty of community outreach. Sheryl and Christy go to schools to teach children about animal care, have appeared on news and entertainment programs, and spearhead programs to assist veterans, seniors and the homeless with their pets.
If this wasn’t enough, there is The Village, an actual house that serves as a residential treatment program for especially-frightened cats and senior dogs.
We’ve rented a house that gives us the opportunity to provide a home environment when a volunteer foster home is not available. The cats who spend time at The Village aren’t ready for the Cat Cottage. They need some extra home time to become a little less fearful of people and find their true confident selves. Just because you’re a “scare-dy cat” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a chance to become a treasured family member.
Hearts Alive Village recently assisted two injured dogs that were hurricane evacuees from Houston. Despite the generous assistance of Legacy Animal Hospital, treatment for just those two animals wiped through most of their reserve funds. But Hearts Alive Village continues to soldier forward with their mission, offering hope for animals when others would give up.
If you’re interested in becoming involved, donating to this wonderful organization or supporting their fundraising activities, there are many ways of doing so. This week, Defending the Caveman at Downtown’s The D Hotel is helping restore that depleted account by donating a portion of ticket sales to HAVLV. Follow this link and use the code “Hearts Alive” when purchasing tickets for any performance through November 11th.
That’s just one of the events that HAVLV has in store. Next month they’ll be celebrating at the fourth annual Monday’s Dark Anniversary Party. The Mondays Dark series donated proceeds from last March’s performance to Hearts Alive Village. Ms. Greenblatt said it was wonderful to receive the check and be able to pay a large portion of the shelter’s ever-rising medical expenses.
Mondays Dark Fourth Anniversary Party will be at Hard Rock Hotel on December 18th. Tickets range from $20 to $50 and can be purchased directly at Hearts Alive Village so they receive additional proceeds from the event.
To keep informed of upcoming fundraising events, check out the official Hearts Alive Village Facebook page. And if you’d like to make a monetary donation, please click here. Any amount will help to provide food, medical care and shelter for special-needs dogs and cats.
More than anything else, Hearts Alive Village exists to provide loving, permanent homes for animals in need. Click here for information on adoption policies (yes, there are rules to assure that animals are safely placed) or to fill out an online adoption application.
Hearts Alive Village Adoption Center and Pet Supplies is open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm. It is located at 1750 South Rainbow Blvd, Unit # 4 Las Vegas
Photos: Sammasseur, Hearts Alive Village via Facebook