HART is a volunteer service organization and no-kill shelter with a threefold mission:

  1. Rescuing and caring for kittens and cats in need;
  2. Placing cats and kittens in caring, permanent homes; and
  3. Reducing feline overpopulation with an active spay/neuter program for HART’s felines and a trap-neuter-return (TNR) program for feral cats.


HART is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (Federal ID 77-0018508) established in February 1983.



We are committed to ensuring quality of life to all living creatures, both feral and domestic.



Founded in 1983, HART began with a small core of volunteers who fostered animals in their own homes. In 2000, the group rented a former veterinarian’s office and consolidated its rescue operations, allowing the organization to expand its services to the greater Cambria community. HART purchased the current shelter, located at 2638 Main Street, in 2012.



To take a video tour of our facility and meet some of our residents click on the video below.



HART is a local animal rescue organization that serves the communities of Cambria, San Simeon, and Harmony in San Luis Obispo (SLO) county.  While we currently focus on felines, we will assist with any animal in need.


  • Rescue and Adoption:
    During its three-plus decades, HART has placed thousands of homeless animals in permanent homes through adoption and foster programs. Our group of dedicated volunteers, the Homeless Animal Rescue Team, focuses on two primary goals: 1) ensuring the well-being of the animals we rescue and care for; and 2) placing them in permanent, caring homes.
  • Spay/Neuter and Microchip: All cats taken in by HART are spayed or neutered, a major component in reducing the local pet overpopulation and attendant euthanasia rates. Microchipping facilitates return-to-owner successes for lost animals and decreases the number of stray, homeless animals.
  • Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR): HART is committed to continuing its success in reducing the number of local feral cats. Trapped animals are spayed or neutered and returned to their colonies, where they receive compassionate care as declining birth rates gradually decrease their numbers.
  • Seniors for Seniors: Senior people, 62 years or older, and senior cats, eight years or older, often make perfect companions. This adoption program matches senior citizens with senior "kitizens" and offers a no-fee bonus.
  • Guardian Angel Program: GA provides additional funds for non-routine medical expenses for HART’s felines. GA is a restricted fund limited exclusively to covering medical costs. The GA program saves lives, ensures that cats and kittens are healthy and pain free, and improves their chances of finding good homes.
  • Surrendering a Pet: We understand that giving up your pet cat or kitten can be a difficult decision. Our staff and volunteers at HART are here to help. If you are a local resident and have determined that you must surrender your cat or kitten, please call or email HART to request an appointment to discuss your options. While we cannot guarantee we will be able to accept your pet, we will do our best to assist you. HART asks for a minimal, relinquishment donation of $50.




Michael Zarowitz, President


A California native, Michael graduated with degrees in economics, finance, genetics, and a doctorate in molecular biology. During his work as a biomedical research scientist, he acquired several patents. Since moving to the central coast he has been an adjunct faculty member at Cal Poly and is currently a volunteer science teacher at Coast Union High School.


Michael became involved with HART through his partner, Mary Ann Zirretta. Playfully describing himself as a 25-year "on-call grunt,” Michael is a long-standing volunteer and creative fundraiser. Along with Carol Jean Attoe, he organized HART's award-winning Pinedorado Parade floats.


Michael lives in Cambria with his Australian Shepherd, Topper—because no other name fits—and three cats: Pretty Penny, Bunky, and Cecil the Hooligan.



Gary Swauger, Treasurer


Gary grew up in Torrance, CA. After studying architecture at Cal Poly, he moved to Cambria with his wife, Susan, two cats, and a dog. Since then, Gary has designed over 400 homes, motels, restaurants, and other commercial buildings.


Beginning his association with HART at the first shelter location, Gary worked on permit requirements, software development, and updating computer equipment. He helped orchestrate the purchase of HART's current building and was the lead on designing tenant improvements necessary to transform an old single family residence into an animal shelter. As Board treasurer, he continues to pursue and evaluate various approaches that will keep HART on solid financial ground.


Currently, Gary and Susan care for Stuart and Snow, two former HART cats.


Julie Jenkins, Secretary


Julie was raised in Ohio. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees and is a certified life coach. While technical theatre was her early career choice, she eventually moved to Los Angeles where she worked at the studios until she retired from the industry in 2014.


Moving to Cambria in 2015, Julie began volunteering with HART soon after and describes herself as “the new kid on the block.” She serves on the Meds Team and regularly furnishes a lap for any feline in search of loving attention. In addition to fostering post-surgery cats, Julie offers compassionate hospice care for those cats experiencing end-of-life challenges. She considers it a privilege to contribute to the wonderful work done by all those who sustain HART.


Carol Jean Attoe, Board Member


Born and raised in Wisconsin, Carol Jean has lived most of her adult life in California. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees, taught physical education at Sacramento CC, and volunteered at the SPCA. After retiring from teaching, she turned her attention to ceramic arts. For over 30 years, her work has been grounded in the natural world and inspired by animals and nature.


During her years at HART, Carol Jean has been a cleaner, transporter, and events volunteer, while her Love Paws fundraisers have enhanced the shelter’s coffers. Her precious cats, Shadow and Silver, are HART alumni.


Of her commitment to HART, Carol Jean says, “It is my hope that we can raise awareness of the animal/human bond and bring love and peace to all livings things.”


Evelyn Zanella, Board Member


Growing up on farms in San Luis Obispo county, Evelyn spent time caring for a variety of critters, including goats, sheep, chickens, rabbits, and the occasional horned toad. After earning her Bachelor of Science degree in animal science at Cal Poly, she worked as a registered veterinary technician and managed her own pet-care business.


Evelyn began her vital work with HART in 2013, serving as a part-time medical director. She now works full time caring for the resident felines, often extending her efforts beyond her regular workday, e.g., taking patients home for overnight nurturing.


Evelyn lives in Cambria with her husband, Mark, where they share their lives with three cats, two bearded dragons, and nine chickens, in happy remembrance of her childhood years.



Julie Harper, General Manager


Although born in Massachusetts, Julie has lived most of her life in San Luis Obispo. She recalls growing up with dogs, quarter horses, and 4-H lambs—and yet, “I have always been a cat person at heart,” she confides with a smile.

Julie began at HART in 2014 after retiring from her career as a music teacher. She says she is surprised by the complexity of her general manager position, which requires her to apply her working knowledge in the areas of medicine, finances, technology, and public relations. Nonetheless, Julie’s enthusiasm for her work at HART is undeniable, and she happily calls it her “dream job.”

Currently, Julie shares her home and 47 acres in west Templeton with her two cats: Comfy, a tortie, and Cozy, a tabby.


Evelyn Zanella, Medical Director


Managing the healthcare needs of HART’s felines is more than a full-time job— which makes Evelyn, the shelter’s full-time medical director, an extremely busy person. Her many duties include: performing in-take exams, scheduling veterinary visits and surgeries, supervising medical and dietary regimens, overseeing newborns, updating medical records, and dispensing TLC. Because health needs do not necessarily comply with working schedules, Evelyn’s level of dedication means that she often arrives early and stays late.


As we watch her protectively cuddle an infant kitten during an important, unavoidable meeting, Evelyn’s devotion to her charges is unmistakable. HART cannot overstate its appreciation for her tireless dedication and for her expertise that provides quality healthcare for our cats and kittens.



Homeless Animal Rescue Team © 2018 - Site Designed & Maintained By: Nancy McKarney