In February 2000, LuAnn Wolf's aunt and uncle's Shetland sheepdog, Heidi, ran into the woods and was lost. Wolfe joined a search and 19 hours later, at 9 a.m. the next morning, Heidi was found.
"At that time, I made a promise to God that if I found the dog, I would increase my efforts," Wolf of Hollidaysburg said.
She started rescuing animals and keeping them in her house until homes were found for them. But she wanted to do more.
Shown with dogs at the no-kill Mending Hearts Animal Rescue are (from left) Robin Bender of Hollidaysburg, Vicki Blanchard of Altoona, LuAnn Wolf of Hollidaysburg, Debra Johnston of Hollidaysburg and Pam Eberhart of Duncansville.?Wolf created the shelter.
Her answer was Mending Hearts Animal Rescue, a nonprofit, no-kill shelter which she created with Pam Eberhart of Duncansville, Robin Bender of Hollidaysburg and Vicki Blanchard of Altoona.
"Robin and I were friends since preschool, Pam adopted a dog from me and Vicki was a volunteer. We are all friends that have a passion for animals," Wolf said.
The women were always in search of a property where they could house more animals. On May 28, 2012, Mending Hearts found its current location in Hollidaysburg.
"When we saw the property, we knew it was ours, and we knew what we wanted to do with it," Eberhart said.
The property has a house with a large garage and a large yard. Inside the garage, there are two floors. The first floor houses the dogs, and in a separate room there are cats.
The second floor houses puppies and kittens. The facility can hold 10 dogs and 20 cats at a time. Outside are two enclosed yards where the dogs can play.
According to the women, the animals are abandoned, strays or surrendered.
"We've had animals come from every place or any situation," said Bender.
When the animals arrive at the shelter, they may have health, obedience or personality problems. Volunteers work with these animals, and then put them up for adoption.
Homes for the animals are found through networking, word of mouth and by posting photos and information on the Mending Hearts' Facebook page, the women said. And people interested in adopting an animal should contact the shelter through the Facebook page.
Once an animal is chosen for adoption, the potential owner will go for a meet-and-greet to see if the animal is right for them.
"Not every pet is the right fit for every person. At this time we encourage them to bring their family and other pets to make sure everyone gets along," Blanchard said.
The meet-and-greets can last from one to two hours, and a member of the staff supervises.
Every member of the Mending Heart's staff is a volunteer. There are about 25 to 30 volunteers, and about six to eight volunteers that are at the facility each day.
"It's growing. We just got 10 new volunteers yesterday," Wolf said recently.
The group receives donations from individuals in the community. Also those adopting animals often give a donation.
All the money the shelter receives goes to the care of the animals. The cost of running the facility depends on the animals' needs.
The shelter also holds fundraisers. A cheese-and-wine event will be held at a bed and breakfast in Hollidaysburg in September, and a Coach fundraiser is planned for Dec. 4.
For more information about Mending Hearts, check the group's Facebook page, www.facebook.com/MendingHeartsRescue.