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Purpose

The purpose of Helping Animals to Survive, a 501c3 organization, is to act as guardians to protect and enhance the lives of companion animals through facilitating community involvement, education, legislation and leadership.

We accomplish this through continued implementation of comprehensive programs designed to promote an environment of respect, responsibility and compassion, as we advocate for the humane treatment of animals.

We are a 100% volunteer based organization, with all donations and funds going directly to helping animals in our community.

HATS is not a rescue. We do not take in animals. We do provide resources for people who are looking to rehome, or who are missing their pets, or who have found pets and are attempting to find their owners. Please use the Resources button in the main menu for links to our Facebook pages and outside agencies that may be able to assist you.

We believe that every animal deserves a chance, and we need volunteers and donations to help us reach our goals! If you are interested in giving of your time, please visit the Volunteer page to get started!

We also need donations so that we can support the animals in our community through various programs. If you are interested in giving, please do so at our Donate page.

Board of Directors

The HATS Board of Directors is a diverse group of individuals who are dedicated to helping our community become more compassionate and humane as we strive to give every animal a chance. These volunteers represent the community and donate their time, passion and professional expertise to steer the vision and future of our mission.

Kim Phillips, President
Teresa Harris, Vice President
Tish Mosteller, Secretary
Claude Petty, Treasurer
Sheila Cox
Rodney Karnes
Susan Larsen
Ken Phelps
Tracey Rominger
Neil Sidden, Alternate

Our Story

The journey to No Kill in Lincoln County began in 2010 when a sole individual read an article in Dog Life magazine about the No Kill Movement and No Kill Equation. Believing that Lincoln County Animal Services (LCAS) could become a No Kill shelter, Lincoln County citizen, Jena Healy, took action and presented the article and details of the No Kill Equation to the then shelter director and manager. Both expressed interest but neither responded to Healy’s follow-up request toward implementation of the 11 components of the Equation. Undeterred, Healy next contacted the then County Commissioners who again expressed interest but took no further action.

In June 2013, undaunted by the lack of support she had received, Healy placed ads in the local newspapers inviting the public to two community meetings to educate them on how LCAS could become a No Kill shelter. Both meetings attracted 20-30 people each, which resulted in the formation of the grassroots group Make Lincoln County No Kill (MLCNK). Led by a small Steering Committee comprised of Healy, Karen Banker, and Will Edmison, MLCNK focus was to convince the Board of County Commissioners to vote “yes” to have LCAS adopt the No Kill philosophy and become a No Kill shelter. After several months of research and preparation, in the fall of 2013, Banker and Edmison delivered individual presentations that proved No Kill was good for Lincoln County to 4 of the 5 seated Commissioners to educate them and achieve their buy-in.

In November 2013, Banker and Edmison stood before the Board of Commissioners during a public meeting supported by Healy and a packed house of dedicated MLCNK volunteers. Upon voting, the Board vote came back unanimously for LCAS to adopt the No Kill philosophy and work toward becoming a No Kill shelter. Unbeknownst to public, literally minutes prior to the presentation, the then Chairman of the Board of Commissioners approached Banker and Edmison stating the only way No Kill would pass the vote is if it was agreed a non-profit would be formed. Reluctantly, Banker and Edmison agreed. Immediately following the “yes” vote, the MLCNK Steering Committee brainstormed about the fastest way to create a non-profit. It was quickly decided a new 501(c)3 non-profit would be formed as a “dab” (doing business as) under Healy’s existing non-profit, The REASON Initiative (Responsive Education About Spaying or Neutering).

While waiting for the appropriate documentation to be filed with the state, money was raised in December to fund a new Trap/Neuter/Return program while short-term fosters and rescue groups were aggressively recruited. In January 2014, the new 501(c)3 non-profit was formed as Helping Animals To Survive (HATS). Healy and Banker were named Co-Executive Directors with Healy responsible for all direct animal contact efforts and Banker responsible for all non-direct animal contact efforts.

Upon the announcing the formation of HATS, the then County Manager sent Healy and Banker a legal contract to sign to create a binding agreement between Lincoln County and HATS. Upon review of the contract and seeing that the contract was one-sided (HATS would have all of the responsibility while the County would have all the authority), Healy and Banker refused to sign after multiple attempts to successfully negotiate the contract.

Without looking back, expeditious work began to organize HATS growing number of volunteers and supporters. A website was developed along with multiple Facebook pages created for specific purposes including HATS Main page for general communication, HATS Crossposter page for the marketing, communications, and pledging for available dogs and cats at LCAS for rescue, foster and adoption, HATS Foster page to recruit and communicate with foster homes, HATS Lost & Found page to alert and reunite the public with lost and found pets, HATS Barn Cat page to recruit owners of barns and facilities seeking working felines, and the HATS Volunteer page, a private page for communication exclusively with HATS volunteers.

In addition to setting up communication channels for the then 130 Volunteers, multiple teams and programs were developed that mirrored 9 of the 11 components of the No Kill Equation including:

  • Foster (short-term fostering for cats and dogs with rescue commitments)
  • Adoption Events (weekly off-site adoption events showcasing LCAS’ dogs and cats)
  • Rescue (recruiting of and working with rescue groups both locally and nationwide)
  • Public Relations (including HATS Events team and working with the media)
  • Pet Retention (donation drives for pet food and vital supplies necessary to keep pets with their owners)
  • Pet Redemption (24/7 activities related to reuniting pets with owners)
  • Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR)
  • Spay/Neuter (“Fix For Fewer” low cost spay/neuter for low income Lincoln County pet owners working in partnership with East Lincoln Animal Hospital)

The following HATS teams and programs were also developed:

  • Shelter Support (Team of Volunteers working directly with the dogs and cats inside LCAS)
  • Stats/Reporting (recording and deep analysis of LCAS statistics)
  • Barn Cats (placing spayed/neutered feral cats with barn and other facility owners)
  • Grants / Fundraising / Corporate Sponsorships (HATS was awarded two grants during its first year plus raised many thousands of dollars to fund programs)
  • Marketing (developing educational materials for the public and strengthening the HATS brand)

In its first two years HATS achieved the following:

  • Recruited and cultivated ongoing relationships with 50 rescues including 20 for special needs animals increasing the number of dogs and cats rescued from LCAS
  • Established and built Facebook Crossposter page up to ~ 9,000 followers receiving as high as 279,000 reaches per week to proactively market LCAS dogs and cats to a wider audience
  • Provided LCAS with professional photography services by volunteers to improve images of animals to increase marketability
  • Provided LCAS ground transportation services at volunteer costs to move animals from LCAS to/from veterinarians or fosters
  • Partnered with air transportation non-profit organization to airlift animals to northern states
  • Increased adoptions of LCAS dogs and cats by hosting and promoting weekly adoption events on behalf of LCAS on a consistent basis
  • Foster (short-term fostering for cats and dogs with rescue commitments)
  • Adoption Events (weekly off-site adoption events showcasing LCAS’ dogs and cats)
  • Rescue (recruiting of and working with rescue groups both locally and nationwide)
  • Public Relations (including HATS Events team and working with the media)
  • Pet Retention (donation drives for pet food and vital supplies necessary to keep pets with their owners)
  • Pet Redemption (24/7 activities related to reuniting pets with owners)
  • Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR)
  • Spay/Neuter (“Fix For Fewer” low cost spay/neuter for low income Lincoln County pet owners working in partnership with East Lincoln Animal Hospital)
  • Shelter Support (Team of Volunteers working directly with the dogs and cats inside LCAS)
  • Stats/Reporting (recording and deep analysis of LCAS statistics)
  • Barn Cats (placing spayed/neutered feral cats with barn and other facility owners)
  • Grants / Fundraising / Corporate Sponsorships (HATS was awarded two grants during its first year plus raised many thousands of dollars to fund programs)
  • Marketing (developing educational materials for the public and strengthening the HATS brand)
  • Recruited and organized 200+ Volunteers into functional, action-oriented teams mirroring the No Kill Equation
  • Recruited 30 short-term fosters for rescues working through HATS allowing rescues to pull more animals from LCAS
  • Provided weekly promotions on HATS main Facebook page with 2,285 followers to engage Volunteers and the community to stimulate involvement with helping LCAS
  • Held multiple donation drives for pet food, bedding, dog and cat houses, toys, litter, leashes, collars, etc. to circumvent common reasons for owner surrenders and to use for foster care
  • Provided counseling to owners who needed help keeping their pets
  • TNR’d a total of 110 cats within the first year alone
  • Convinced LCAS to not identify cats as feral upon intake and wait till end of 72-hour hold period
  • Convinced LCAS to allow feral cats to be pulled by rescues (prior to this ALL feral cats were killed after hold period)
  • Placed first barn cats at Redbone Willy’s near Vale, NC upon development of Barn Cat program
  • Socialized 100+ dogs and cats at LCAS with behavioral issues to become adoptable per LCAS standards
  • Recruited certified dog trainers to offer their services to LCAS at no cost
  • Recruited and trained medical fosters to care for ringworm and upper respiratory infected cats
  • Raised funds via pledges to entice rescue groups to pull sick and/or injured animals
  • Gained visibility for shelter animals and the No Kill mandate by participating in at least 21 Lincoln County community events including parades, festivals, other well attended events
  • Won multiple awards for HATS event participation resulting in wide-spread media coverage and additional visibility for animals at LCAS
  • Generated multiple, positive newspaper articles regarding program launches per the No Kill Equation
  • Developed and distributed educational materials promoting S/N, fostering, volunteering, adopting, etc. at all public events and veterinary offices in the county to help LCAS achieve their goal
  • Built relationships with county veterinarians to work in partnership with HATS and LCAS
  • Spoke at various Lincoln County churches and organizations to educate and promote adoption and fostering of LCAS animals
  • Compiled LCAS reported data and conducted in-depth analysis to assist LCAS, County
  • Management and the public on what was working and where improvement was still needed
  • Created 50+ social media ads and graphics to promote LCAS animals and trigger volunteer involvement to save LCAS dogs and cats
  • Developed, launched and promoted a scalable, high-volume, low-cost spay neuter program for low income, Lincoln County pet owners called “Fix For Fewer”
  • Spayed/Neutered hundreds dogs and cats
  • Reduced intake at LCAS via establishing and promoting the HATS Lost & Found Facebook page that engaged the community to reunite lost pets with their owners prior to the dog or cat being taken to LCAS

In August 2015, after nearly two years of building and operating the HATS organization, Healy and Banker passed the baton to the HATS Volunteers to develop their own vision and to continue the growth and work of HATS toward Lincoln County becoming a No Kill shelter and community. Under the new leadership, the Volunteers decided to appoint a Board of Directors, which now operates the HATS organization.