HART for Animals

"We could not have afforded the Desktop Office Suite for 50 employees — Office 365 is a real blessing. We think of it as our partner because we use it every day in multiple ways!"

— Mercedes Pellet, a full-time volunteer and board member 

A Modern Pet Rescue Center for HART for Animals

Tucked away in the Appalachian mountains of western Maryland, HART for Animals is a one-stop shop for all things pets. Not only does HART rescue dogs and cats that would otherwise be euthanized in Garrett County, but it also has a full-service veterinary clinic, the "Bed n Bark Inn" for traveling pets, a grooming salon, and a gift shop for pets and people that support its rescue operations. 

In keeping such a busy operation afloat, the last thing HART for Animals needs to worry about is budgeting for technology — and ensuring that it works. 

For the Love of Animals 

Now a full-time volunteer and board member, Mercedes Pellet told TechSoup that she found purpose and a new career through HART for Animals. After owning a translation company for years, Pellet and her husband retired and bought a house in the mountains. To their horror, they learned that homeless pets in their area can freeze and die during the brutal winter months. 

Pellet wanted to do something meaningful in her retirement and help these animals. She wanted some credibility, so she also decided to get her veterinary technician certification. She wanted to get involved with an organization with dedicated staff and the strongest mission. After asking around, she learned about HART for Animals. 

Founded in 2003, HART started out as a vaccination program in conjunction with the Garrett County Shelter. The organization helped form an extensive network of volunteers to transport animals from the county shelter to rescue groups. "There's a whole society that involves these people that rescue animals," Pellet reflected. "It's an incredible community." 

When it became clear that the county didn't have the budget to improve the existing animal shelter, HART's staff decided to raise private funds to build an animal adoption center. 

A Tech-Savvy Approach to Animal Rescue 

All of the pieces of HART are synced together through veterinary care management software called Cornerstone. When a person adopts a pet from HART, the animal's records are synced with the vet clinic and the grooming salon. Each animal adopted from HART is microchipped as well. 

In order to run Cornerstone, HART needed to have Windows 7 installed on the organization's computers. A local college had donated some computers to HART, but HART had no operating systems. 

When Pellet crunched the numbers, she found that it would cost the nonprofit a lot to get Windows 7 licenses for each of the donated computers. There was no budget for that kind of spending! Thankfully, her son (a computer expert, says Pellet) told her about an organization that works with companies to get donated technology for nonprofits. Pellet immediately made the call to TechSoup. "If it hadn't been for my son, we would be down to three computers." 

Growing with Office 365 

HART needed a technology solution that would allow it to go from a staff of five (as of last year) to the expected 50 people spread throughout the facility — without having to pay additional costs. Staff members also needed an easy-to-maintain solution that they could manage on their own without a dedicated IT person. They started using Office 365 Nonprofit in February 2014. 

"After one year, Office 365 is everything to us," said Pellet. "We set up Exchange users, manage hires and terminate employees, and do most things ourselves." 

The nonprofit now has a staff of 25, and Pellet said that it is beginning to advertise for additional positions. The cost savings of Office 365 compared to desktop versions of Office has been a huge benefit for HART. Although it was successful in fundraising and receiving grants to build the existing facilities, it had almost no budget for technology.

"We could not have afforded the Desktop Office Suite for 50 employees — Office 365 is a real blessing. We think of it as our partner because we use it every day in multiple ways!" 

More Than Six Thousand Animals Saved … and Counting 

HART is currently raising funds to build a new wing on its adoption center, with construction starting this spring. This state-of-the-art adoption wing will have modern facilities for the cats and dogs. 

It will be able to hold 60 dogs and 40 cats with puppy and kitten rooms. In addition to other fundraising activities, the nonprofit is raffling off a home in western Maryland to help animals find their forever homes. 

The success of HART has not only affected the animals of Garrett County, but the people too. "We've become a point of pride [for the community]," said Pellet. "We didn't intend for that; all we wanted to do is rescue as many animals as possible." 

This story originally appeared on the TechSoup Blog.