In the Spring of 2016, Heaven on Earth began a capacity building initiative: the onsite apartment was converted to more clinical isolation space and a storage room was renovated as the maternity ward, signaling the shift to pulling more underage kittens from the city shelters. 12 additional double-wide cat condos were purchased, and 3 larger personal enclosures were added in the lobby, as Perry’s Place was opened to potential adopters for the first time in May, 2016. All of this growth was supported by a 3-year staffing grant from Best Friends, as well as other foundation grants and increasingly successful annual fundraising galas.
The public areas of Perry’s Place now have 12 cage free rooms, as well as the 3 large personal enclosures. Together with the 36 condos in the isolation room, 18 more in clinical iso, 12 in ringworm iso, and six in the maternity room, we now have a total of 72 cat condos. Fortunately, our growing foster program is providing space relief, so that we no longer need to house cats in cages in the hallways. In combination with the cage free rooms, this enables us to care currently for up to 250 cats and kittens at Perry’s Place, as well as up to 100 more in foster care, and at 3 of the PetSmart stores and the NKLA adoption center. This includes up to 150 kittens during the height of kitten season.
In late 2018, we opened the Heaven on Earth Animal Clinic and acquired a smaller cat rescue organization, Ziggy & Friends. The clinic, which focuses on high volume spay and neuter surgeries, is well along in its learning curve, and is currently preparing to dramatically increase its volume of business during kitten and puppy season, with the ultimate goal of sterilizing 6,000 cats and dogs annually.
The merger of Ziggy into Heaven on Earth is nearing a conclusion, with pro bono support from the law firm Gibson and Dunn. In the meantime, we have recently become Closer to Home Adoption Partners with the LA County Department of Animal Services. Since Ziggy & Friends had focused its lifesaving efforts on County cats, especially at the Downey shelter, we have now begun pulling cats from those shelters who are at imminent risk of being killed.
Heaven on Earth has evolved during the past nine years from primarily providing long term sanctuary for senior and special needs cats, as well as those with chronic but treatable illness, to maximizing our lifesaving mission. We have increased our total intakes from 141 in 2012 to a projected 950 in 2019, nearly all from municipal shelters, where they often have no other options. More than 1,200 cats will pass through Perry’s Place this year. As an NKLA Coalition steering committee member, we are helping to bring Los Angeles closer to becoming no kill, the city having reached an 89.7% save rate by the end of 2018.
As we prepare to celebrate Heaven on Earth’s 20th anniversary in 2020, our operating budget has grown to more than $1.5 million, our staff now numbers 26, and we rely on nearly 100 volunteers to help carry out our lifesaving mission. We will sustain our growth through: a comprehensive development program, including a campaign beginning in 2020; a marketing strategy to increase awareness and attract more volunteers and donors; increased earned revenues through the operation of our new veterinary clinic; and potentially one or more additional strategic affiliations with other animal rescue organizations.