Up and running from mid-summer 2013, Harry’s Harbor Association of Volunteers for Animals (HAVA) House, took the opening months to secure the building located at 431 Second Street and complete renovations on a state of the art care and no-kill facility.
Through donations from Harry and LaPriel Jones, the group was able to purchase the building and renovate the interior with proper ventilation and care systems that allow the group to help the community with options for home pets.
“Dad always was one of those kids that would bring home a stray animal,” said HAVA House President Dee Roberts, “Of course he would say that they “followed” him home.”
It is that basic attitude toward stray animals that helped create the basic philosophy that is now Harry’s HAVA House.
“After my father passed away, my mother, (LaPriel), wanted to create something to honor him, and that has grown into our HAVA House,” said Roberts.
The donation from the Jones was enough to jump start the facility and get the operation off the ground, in securing the building and creating a haven for cats.
“We do help with all kinds of animals, but the shelter is for cats,” Roberts added.
In 2012, as a group, HAVA adopted out 225 animals, 24 of them dogs. And after opening the current facility in Raymond in 2013, the numbers have reached 204 adoptions, 14 dogs among that number.
But HAVA does much more then just try and find homes for strays, as they have an aggressive spay/neuter program that has impacted 300 cats and dogs, among that number 100 of them have been feral cats.
The group is involved with a Trap, Neuter (or Spay) and Return program, called TNR, that helps keep the population down of feral or community cats. Available to the community Harry’s HAVA House will go into areas with a “Community” cat population, trap the cats, make sure they are spayed/neutered and return them.
“One of the things that the community does not fully understand is that feral or community cats do have a role in our area,” said Roberts, “they help keep the rodent population down in several locations. Not everyone agrees with our program, thinking that we should not bring them back, but it does help the area in both control of the numbers of community cats and what they can bring to the community.”
HAVA, which has been active for over 21 years, notes that one specific area was becoming an issue.
“The most famous of the feral cat colonies is one in Westport called the Jetty Cat Colony. They are actually the reason HAVA began; people have been dumping their cats at the harbor in Westport for years and the colony got completely out of control and very large. The cats were causing problems with local businesses and a large number were euthanized. A local group of citizens got together, had live traps built by the shop class in a local high school and began trapping and spaying/neutering the cats at the Jetty. They also began feeding them daily. The group began expanding, taking in unwanted cats and finding them homes.
At one point they even opened a thrift shop to fund their services. When the founder of the group moved out of the area, HAVA was quiet for several years until a group of Raymond residents took up the cause again in the early 90's.
Dr. Gina Lewis, Vetter's Animal Hospital, was one of the leaders of the new HAVA and promised the original founders that HAVA would continue to care for the Jetty Cats. To this day, volunteers feed the cats twice a day and keep track of the colony. They trap and we spay/neuter new cats and try to find them homes when possible. Feeding stations were created to protect their food from the elements,” said Mary Mast, HAVA volunteer.
Along with programs like the Jetty Cats, local residents can also stop by Harry’s House and get food.
“We have a food donation program that is sponsored by the Dennis Company. People, who are having issues getting food, can stop in and we will help them. When they get to a point that they can afford food for their pets, they bring us food for other families,” said Roberts.
The Raymond HAVA House is run completely by volunteers, is a non-profit agency and are always looking for more help, Roberts notes that if it were not for the network of people and area business’ they would not be able to provide the service for the community. A walk in the new facility in Raymond sparkles from the recent renovations, clean and efficient care rooms, a big view room and the very dedicated staff. The group has come up with several ways to get the community involved from a simple donation jar that sits on the counter to collect loose change, to sponsorship programs and fundraisers. The group is also working on grants to keep the facility funded. The group has been able to negotiate with local veterinarians to help off-set the cost of what they can provide from the basic shots that are required to spay and neutering to emergency medical care.
One fund that has been established, the Frisky Fund, is used specifically for medical costs.
“In the last few years we've paid for major surgery on a wonderful dog named Barley, hip surgery for a cat named Toffee and an amputation for a kitty named Pogo, our most recent recipient. There are many more animals that have benefited from this fund and people donate directly to the Frisky Fund whenever we have an animal in need. All of our Frisky Fund recipients find great homes after they're surgeries,” said Mast.
With veterinarian care one of the leading expenses, $50,000 spent last year alone, the group has also established an extensive network of other facilities in Pacific and Grays Harbor counties. While the Raymond facility is primarily a cat shelter, they can help with most any animal, with a focus on adoption and finding the right pet for the right home.
“This year, we are hoping to get a real membership program started. Up until now people have donated to our various programs but we really didn't have a membership program. In order to support our various services, we are going to a membership based program and hope that people in the community will join. We also now offer Cage Sponsorships, people can help support the cats who find their way through HAVA and Room Sponsors, helping to pay for our “Happy Cat Room” where adult cats are allowed to roam freely and for our Isolation Room. 99% of the donations, if not more, go to the animals. Most of us on the board and other volunteers donate office supplies, printing and operational costs. We sponsor several programs through the year as fundraisers including an Annual Tea which is scheduled for April 12 and a huge Garage Sale scheduled for May 16-17. This year for the first time, we're sponsoring a "Spay-Ghetti” Feed on July 19,”said Mast.
To get involved with HAVA, volunteer or provide a home for a cat or become a foster family for a dog in need, stop in the Raymond facility during hours of operation; Wednesdays from 3-6 pm or on first or third Saturdays each month from 10 am – 2 pm.
Sign up for the HAVA HEART newsletter at HAVA P.O. Box 243, Raymond, 98577, reach out to them on the internet at HYPERLINK "http://www.hava-heat.org" www.hava-heat.org, or call 942-4716.
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