Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
BAXTER - Resting quietly in a kennel in the back of the impound area at Heartland Animal Rescue Team is a young, frail golden retriever.
With sad brown eyes peering between the bars of its cage, the dog doesn't even get up to greet his visitors. Hip bones protruding through his golden locks, someone tried to starve him to death, said HART director John Tschida.
"He's nothing but skin and bone," he said.
As director of HART for nearly six months, Tschida has grown accustomed to finding animals tied to trees or doorknobs when he arrives at work in the morning.
Last week Tschida was welcomed by eight cardboard boxes lined up at HART's front door.
"You never know what you're going to find," he said.
Inside the boxes, Tschida found cats, all sick and diseased, some with only one eye - all of which had to be euthanized.
Check out pets up for adoption and upcoming HART events at www.hartpets.org.
For more information on donating or volunteering, call HART at 829-4141.
The Pets of the Week feature will return to the Brainerd Dispatch. Each Sunday a dog and cat from HART will be featured with a photograph and description of the animal.
Animal overpopulation is a growing problem in the lakes area. HART takes in 30-50 animals each week, and doesn't have the kennel space to house all of them. HART's impound area, where animals are held for seven days to be claimed by their owners, has 20 kennels. The adoption area of HART has 20 dog kennels and the cat room can hold 14 cats.
Tschida said of all the animals taken in, one-third are claimed by their owners, one-third are adopted and one-third are euthanized.
"It's better to put an animal down than have it freeze or starve to death," he said.
Two hundred people are on a waiting list to surrender their animals to HART.
To help counteract the overpopulation problem, most animals are spayed or neutered before they leave the shelter.
Vaccinations also are given and medical treatment is provided to HART animals when needed.
Tschida said 20 percent of the animals that come to HART are injured or sick. Due to lack of kennel space, a springer spaniel puppy with a broken leg is in a cage on the floor of Tschida's small office and will remain there until it's healed.
HART is in need of foster homes for sick and injured pets that are in need of a place to heal before going up for adoption.
"We don't have space to care for all of these animals," Tschida said.
HART has plans to expand its facility, which will more than triple the size of the current shelter and the amount of animals it can serve. First, $2.5 million needs to be raised.
"(The animal population) is growing at a rate of 22 percent per year and we haven't expanded since 1987," Tschida said.
Currently HART runs on a $365,000 per year budget and Tschida said the budget will have to triple to support the new building.
HEIDI LAKE can be reached at 855-5879 or email@example.com.
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