HART is a volunteer service organization and no-kill shelter with a threefold mission:
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.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
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.”
Leah Cox, Board Member
Leah and husband Kerry moved to Cambria 2 1/2 yrs ago from the Santa Monica mountains near Lake Sherwood. Before their moving boxes were unpacked Leah was doing TNR for HART. She is our Head Trapper and appreciates any help you can give with trapping situations. Leah has volunteered with county animal shelters and private rescue groups for over 25 yrs, fostering 100’s of kittens, before opening her own Rescue in 2011. HART is delighted to have her decades of cat rescue experience.
Kellie Priebe, General Manager
Kellie became HART's General Manager in October 2018. A southern California native, Kellie grew up in the high desert and moved to the central coast to attend college. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a bachelor’s degree in Film and Media Studies in 2009. Kellie has always had a love for animals and began volunteering at HART in February of 2018. It didn’t take her long to fall in love with Freeway, a former HART cat, and adopt him into her own home (pictured).
Kellie quickly realized that she was falling in love with all of the cats and would take them all home if she could. Her favorite parts about working at HART are the friendly and compassionate people she has met and the difference she makes in the lives of animals daily.
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.
Registered Veterinary Technician
& Foster Coordinator
Brittany graduated from Foothill College's Veterinary Technology program in 2012. Since obtaining her CA state and National licenses, she has worked in many areas of veterinary medicine including, general practice, emergency, shelter, physical rehabilitation and dentistry. Brittany began working at HART in December 2018 and quickly got started on creating a Fear Free Initiative in order to reduce the fear, anxiety and stress of HART's shelter residents. Shortly after she took on the role of Foster Coordinator and created HART's highly successful Foster Club. During its first year, the Foster Club had 23 fosters from all over the central coast fostering a total of 85 adult cats and kittens. In 2020, she will lead HART staff and volunteers in completing Jackson Galaxy's Cat Pawsitive Program. This program helps shelter residents find and maintain their mojo using a trained set of behaviors and skills, which in turn, helps them to become highly adoptable.
Brittany and her husband moved to the central coast from the Bay Area in 2017 before the arrival of their baby girl. They have two dogs, Vincent and Scramble, and Pixel, their orange tabby.
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