Nonprofit seeking donations to aid with emergency vet care

BELLE FOURCHE — Hobo’s Healing Heart, a nonprofit organization that received its 501(c)(3) nonprotit status on May 2, will soon be able to help people in a financial pinch fund emergency veterinary care for their pets.

The organization was formed to prevent animal owners from having to make the decision to euthanize or surrender their pet because of high treatment expenses.

Hobo’s Healing Heart is in the process of seeking donations and once they raise $7,500. they will accept applications for assistance, right now they have raised roughly $1,260.

“Currently we are only able to help residents of Crook County, Wyoming, and Butte, Meade, and Lawrence Counties in South Dakota; however, they may use the vet of their choice as long as the vet is willing to work with us,” said Kelly Hayworth, founder and president of Hobo’s Healing Heart. “It is my hope that we will grow to a point where we can extend our services to the entire Black Hills Region and perhaps one day become national.”

Hayworth is originally from Ohio, where she adopted a dog named “Hobo,” the dog that inspired her to start this charity. At the age of six, Hobo was diagnosed with the early stages of congestive heart failure. The diagnostic testing cost over $3,000, and the medication was about $180 every three months. Hayworth worked side jobs to pay off the vet clinic because losing Hobo was no option for her.

Hobo was the first of over 150 dogs, cats and horses that Hayworth rehabilitated from severe neglect and abuse and placed in new homes, during her free time.

“He (Hobo) helped me rehabilitate over 150 dogs. He showed them how to be a dog, things I couldn't teach them. He accepted every animal I brought home with complete love. I am sure he got tired of puppies and kittens climbing all over him and playing with him when he wanted to rest, but he did his job well. After he wasn't scared of people anymore, he never knew a stranger, human or animal. He truly was a once in a lifetime dog. I miss him every day and couldn't think of a better way to honor him than to continue his legacy of helping other animals in his name,” Hayworth said.

“Around December of last year, my eldest dog, Stuart, tore his ACL and had a luxating patella. To repair his knee cost over $1,300, though I didn't have the funds available to me immediately. I applied through a few nationwide non-profits for aid; however, they do not assist with emergency vet costs and to them, a torn ACL is an emergency. Thankfully, my vet and I have worked together long enough he allowed to me make payments. Going through another costly veterinary adventure and being turned down for financial assistance spurred my need to provide a way to assist others who experience similar hardships,” Hayworth said. There are assistance programs for spay/neuter, vaccines, food, general wellness exams, but nothing for emergency vet care or diagnostic testing. I am sure it is because of the extreme cost related to it. This is a huge challenge we are taking on, but I am confident we will be successful. It just may take time.”

The charity will look at the financial status of the pet owner’s case and work with the veterinarian to determine if they are eligible for assistance.

The amount they will fund is up to $1,500 per family per year, if they have enough funding.

Hayworth said that all funds will be paid directly to the veterinary center or veterinarian, and they will require the family to contribute 25 percent to the cost of the procedure.

Hobo’s Healing Heart is accepting donations, which are 100 percent tax deductible. Those who contribute large or reoccurring donations will be featured as special contributors on the organization’s website, Businesses that make large or reoccurring donations will receive links to their websites on the web page.

Donations from businesses and individuals may be made online, or sent to P.O. Box 833, Belle Fourche, SD 57717. To keep the cost of administration and operations down, Hobo’s Healing Heart does not have a physical location or phone number.

“There are four of us, and we do everything via the Internet and email. We will have paper applications for those who do not have the Internet if needed. We also have a link on our website where one can pay to have their special pet memorialized for all to see,” Hayworth added.

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