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HART is a Volunteer Service Organization whose mission is to rescue domestic animals in need and place them into good, permanent homes, and to eliminate surplus animals from being born through active spay/neuter programs. HART is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization (Federal ID 77-0018508).

Our philosophy is ensuring quality of life to all living creatures, both feral and domestic.

HART was founded in 1983 by a small core of volunteers who fostered animals in their own homes. Starting with Mika (a wayward cat in a family way), HART has placed thousands of homeless animals into permanent homes through adoption and foster programs. In 2000 HART acquired its own premises by renting a former veterinarian’s office, allowing us to expand our resources in the community. Our TNR (Trap/Neuter/Release) programs have prevented countless more homeless animals. Through partnerships with educators and other rescue groups HART has helped to develop an effective Humane Education program that has been shared with local schools and communities.

In 2012 HART purchased its current location at 2638 Main Street.
For over 30 years the overwhelming constant characteristic of HART has been a team of volunteers dedicated to the welfare of the animals, first and always.


Michael Zarowitz, President
Born and raised in Lakewood/Long Beach, Michael has lived throughout the U.S. while attending college; graduating with degrees in Economics, Finance, and Genetics with a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology. His training is as a biomedical research scientist, and he holds a number of patents for his work. Today he lectures at Cal Poly in genetics and biotechnology. Since the late 80’s, Mike has been an "on-call" HART grunt and is also the official "standby" Santa Claus for HART holiday events. Always a “dog person”, Mike found himself side by side with his partner Mary Ann Zirretta, a “cat person,” responsible for HART's award-wining Pinedorado Parade floats. He lives in Cambria with his two Australian Shepherds - "Beethoven" (because he was born deaf) and "Topper" (because no other name fits). Mary Ann’s influence shows on Mike, who is also now a “cat person,” caring for seven of HART’s cats.

Terry Hanson, Vice President
Terry was born in San Diego where she became a hairdresser and stay-at-home mom. As her children were growing up, Terry studied interior design and drafting. Ultimately she became a licensed interior designer and started her own company, Design Cottage. In 2000, she and her husband moved to Cambria where Terry continued her work in design, focusing on kitchens and baths.

Terry began as a cleaner at HART. She loves the working parts of a shelter and enjoys the camaraderie of the volunteers, staff and the Board.  Of course, the cats, such special animals, are her main concern.  Terry’s goal is to make HART a successful functional place that is fun to be in, with volunteers that enjoy what they are doing, and where everyone finds ways to support the welfare of animals. She also volunteers long hours as HART’s Volunteer Coordinator.  

Carol Jean Attoe, Board Member
Born and raised in Wisconsin, I have lived most of my adult life in California. I received my BS at The University of Wisconsin, MS at the University of Oregon and taught Physical Education at Sacramento City College for many years. Sacramento was also the location where I was a volunteer with the Sacramento SPCA for 10 years. After retiring from teaching I have focused on being a ceramic artist for many years. (See my website at cjattoe.com)

As a HART volunteer since 2001 I have been a cleaner, transporter, Love Paws artist and event volunteer. I am currently mother to 2 precious HART kitties, Shadow and Silver. It is an honor and a joy to work with the kitties and all the dedicated volunteers at HART. It is my hope that we can raise awareness of the animal/human bond and bring love and peace to all livings things.

Gary Swauger, Secretary / Treasurer
Gary Swauger was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Torrance until he came to Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo in 1969 to study architecture. Since moving to Cambria in 1976 with wife Susan, two cats and a dog and during the decades following, he has designed well over 400 homes, motels, restaurants and assorted commercial buildings. Gary began his association with HART at the old shelter location helping with permitting needs and updating computer equipment and software development. He helped orchestrate the purchase of HART's current building and was the lead on the tenant improvements to customize an old single family residence for shelter use. As secretary/treasurer, he continues to follow up on and look out for a variety of ways to keep HART on solid financial ground. Currently Gary and Susan have three former HART Cats: Oreo, Leeloo and Stuart.




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