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Animal lovers show they have a HART

Camille Haglin (left) and Amy Houde, Heartland Animal Rescue Team employees, st

When the Heartland Animal Rescue Team in Baxter asked for help in feeding its abandoned dogs and cats, the response was overwhelming.

For the first time in many years, HART ran out of donated dog and cat food Wednesday at the animal shelter and was forced to buy food. The shelter has about 80 animals now, including impounded cats and dogs and those up for adoption. On Wednesday alone they took in about 35 stray cats and kittens and five dogs. 

Donna Wambeke, HART executive director, said early Thursday morning people began showing up at the animal shelter carrying bags of donated food and it didn’t stop all day. The HART lobby was overflowing with bags of donated pet food and scoopable cat litter.

“It’s been really, really fun and exciting and really heartwarming to see,” said Wambeke. “We’ve got kids that are using their birthday money to buy food and kids bringing in coffee cans of money donated from their neighbors. We’re very grateful we won’t have any empty bowls.”

Wambeke said as of late Thursday afternoon the shelter had received about 4,000 pounds of pet food and 420 pounds of cat litter. The shelter also received about $2,100 in monetary donations, including one woman who stopped in with a $1,000 check to buy pet food. 

“Our whole lobby is filled with bags of food. We can barely walk in it,” said Wambeke.

On Friday, Lakeland Veterinary Hospital and Hill’s Science Diet pet food company will be delivering 400 pounds of food to the animal shelter. Wambeke said Target in Baxter also provided donated pet food, as did the Salvation Army in Brainerd.

The shelter is still accepting donations of quality, brand name bags of cat, kitten, puppy and dog food. This would include any brands such as Purina, Pedigree and Iams. Quality food is necessary since many of the animals arrive at the shelter in poor shape. Scoopable cat litter is also needed.

JODIE TWEED may be reached at or 855-5858.