By HALEY ANDERSON/Montana State News

It is quickly apparent to visitors and newcomers to Bozeman, Montana that this town is a little dog crazy, and no one is as crazy about dogs as Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter (HOV).

HOV is a private, non-profit animal shelter that serves both the Gallatin and Madison Valley.  HOV intakes more than 2,500 dogs and cats per year, none of which are euthanized due to space or length of stay and the shelter is often faced with overcrowding and shared quarters.

No matter the circumstance or condition of the animals, HOV accepts them, even though finding homes for the animals is sometimes difficult.

HOV is aware of its obligation to the community to ensure that no animals are released from the facility that are seen as a potential danger to the community for reasons of poor health, aggression, etc.

The Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter first began as the Humane Society of Gallatin Valley (HSGV). It was formed from a group of concerned citizens in 1973 that built a shelter on top of a city landfill on Rouse Avenue in Bozeman in 1975.

The original shelter quickly became over-crowded due to their no-kill policy and the HSGV merged with Animal Services Center Inc. to create the organization known in town today as the Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter in March 2004.

After the merger, HOV’s board of directors campaigned to raise $4 million and established an additional $1 million endowment to build a new shelter. The new shelter was built on 58 acres on Cameron Bridge Road.

HOV finally had the funds necessary for the new shelter by October 2007 and moved into the 19,850 square-foot shelter shortly afterwards. The facility provided enough room for indoor housing for all animals and state of the art technology for keeping the kennels clean.

Now the HOV contains an adoption center, veterinary services, administrative offices, and a community room for meetings and public outreach programs.

HOV’s 2011 annual report shows that they received 2,401 dogs and cats and was successful in re-homing 2,354. This gives HOV a save rate of 98 percent.

With all of these animals, the expenses HOV faces can appear daunting. The shelter operates primarily on donations, which account for 45 percent of their 2011 income. From events staff and volunteers put on in the community, the shelter brought in 17 percent of their income for 2011, a sizable amount of support that they hope to continue improving in upcoming years.

HOV will be holding a “Howlin’ at the Moon Snowshoe Shuffle” on Saturday, March 3, to highlight man’s best friend. Dogs and people alike are invited to a 2-mile lit snowshoe course, followed by a chili feed, raffle, and live music. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. and snowshoeing starts at 6 p.m.

In May 2008, HOV approved a five-year strategic plan with the goal of enabling them to become one of the premier resource centers in the northwestern United States for dogs, cats, and their owners.

A few specific goals of the shelter are to expand and strengthen current adoption programs, continue to strengthen ties to the community, complete the new facility and finalize a plan that maximizes use of the campus, engage and retain staff and strengthen the financial stability of the organization.

HOV predicts 2012 to be similar to 2011 in numbers of incoming and re-homed animals, but continues to strive to get their re-homing percentage higher.

Heart of the Valley offers photos, some videos, and bios of their current animals on their regularly updated website <www.heartofthevalleyshelter.org>.  The website also holds current information on adoptable animals and general information for the public.

Edited by Megan Higgins.

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