Just about a month ago, I had the privilege to be invited to a local sanctuary and rescue. For those of you who know me or read this column from time to time, you know that I am one of the world's greatest cat lovers. In fact, I volunteer a lot of my time to assist a rescue in my own hometown. So to get a special invite to check out another rescue in our area - I was honored.

By Trish Morgan

For the News Tribune
Just about a month ago, I had the privilege to be invited to a local sanctuary and rescue. For those of you who know me or read this column from time to time, you know that I am one of the world's greatest cat lovers. In fact, I volunteer a lot of my time to assist a rescue in my own hometown. So to get a special invite to check out another rescue in our area - I was honored.
This time of year especially, there are so many forgotten, abandoned, neglected and abused animals who roam the streets - scrounging for bits of foods and some shelter when the weather does not cooperate. It breaks my heart that so many of these animals will spend the rest of their lives never knowing what love is...or never knowing what it means to live in a home and have regular meals.
It's a good thing that there are people like Missy Smith, Dawn Billmyre, Dianne Care, Kerry Shoemaker and many others who step up and take action. They promote that we should all spay and neuter our pets, and we all recognize that there is a problem with an overpopulation of cats and dogs. I am forever grateful that these wonderful, generous, hard-working people care.
Today, I would like to tell you about one of those organizations that is full of love, tender loving care, dedicated volunteers. They do good things there. Very good things.
Heart of the Earth Sanctuary and Rescue (HOTE) is a non-profit animal welfare organization that provides a loving home and veterinary treatment for abandoned and unwanted animals, especially those that are disabled, sick or senior. Our official tag line: "Where the abused and unwanted are family."
HOTE rescues primarily special needs animals, and they also serve as a hospice for terminally ill animals. Currently partnered with several animal shelters in MD and WV, they take in primarily special needs animals that aren't adoptable.
Kerry Shoemaker and her volunteers try to give a voice, with dignity and respect, to those who do not always have a voice of their own.
She purposely omitted the terms "animal," "dog," "cat" from the name - as it was in the plan from the beginning of The Heart of the Earth (HOTE) to help humans as well as animals. They have, from time to time, sheltered folks who had no other place to go, until they got back on their feet. When the PA location is up and running it is their hope to have "live in" help who is someone in need of a place to stay, for however long.
HOTE also gives back to the community in ways such as giving away a Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner basket to someone who otherwise wouldn't have dinner.
To quote one of Kerry's adopters, "You worked a miracle with me! Me being bipolar and Joy being my esa is the only way I can go out by myself." The organization now  has a HOTE alumni who is now an emotional support dog.
Kerry has been rescuing on some level since 1998, out of her own pockets. It was not until a major life-changing event in 2012 that made her realize that she could no longer do it alone. So, the board was formed and they then set out to get their 501c3 (non-profit status), which was official June 22, 2014.
Kerry met several who now serve on her board while in the trenches at the Allegany County Animal Shelter during the big shake up that rebirthed them as "No Kill." She hand-picked her board members because of their commitment and compassion for those in need, as well as their love and commitment for helping animals. "They have more than proven themselves!" Kerry proudly says.
Some of the activities that HOTE has scheduled in the upcoming months are reading hours for children over the summer months at the rescue (parents are invited and encouraged to hang out). Starting this summer, they will be offering micro-chipping and will be selling Allegany County dog licenses.
This Saturday, the rescue will be having an Americana paint fundraiser at Lynn Smith's business at the Keyser Decorating Center, from 1 to 4 pm. Spaces are limited, so if interested, check out this link on Facebook for the details and how to get registered before the spaces are gone.
https://www.facebook.com/events/226909428078939/?ti=cl
The rescue has a great team of volunteers who help out on the weekends, and also have folks come in during the weekdays to check on the animals. They allow minors to volunteer with parent signature, and they are a Maryland Certified Green Rescue. Personally, I think it says a lot about Heart of the Earth Rescue that they are certified platinum on Guide Star and also a top rated rescue on Great Non Profits. They are registered to operate in WV and MD, and will be registered in PA in the near foreseeable future with a location there.
They have a Green Team - whose sole purpose is to implement green ideas to keep HOTE environmentally friendly and a safe area for wild animals who visit.
Recently, the Allegany County Animal Control came to the rescue location in Bowling Green for their inspection, and they received their kennel license.
Heart of the Earth is partnered with Give Purrs a Chance, Pet Smart, Best Friends Society, Shelter Animals Count, and they are proud members of the Rescue Network.

Kerry states that they are a transparent sanctuary/rescue and all of our information is available on their webpage hoteanctuaryandrescue.com.