By Marianne Mueller


Established in April of 2016 Hopes Legacy & Trust Fund is a fund designed solely for the purposes of covering the veterinary costs of stray and abandoned animals in need of medical care. It is a non-for-profit organization. 

The journey to forming Hope’s Legacy started when Holly Hartley found what she thought was an opossum on a snow covered ditch in Beloit, Wis. “What I found ended up being a cat,” Hartley said. “You could visibly see that she was suffering from something, and I picked her up and took her directly to the closest vet clinic; Madison Road Veterinary Clinic. “We gave her the name Hope because we were hopeful she would survive.]

“Hope suffered from frostbite to her face brought on by an acute upper respiratory infection.  The drainage would freeze, drain and refreeze. “We have no idea how long she was left in that condition.  She also was the first cat I had come across that tested positive for heartworm and eventually she had to have one of her eyes removed,” Hartley shares. 

Hope was cared for by the amazing staff of MRVC over her three-month stay in the medical boarding. 

“Sadly, Hope was never claimed nor were we able to secure foster or rescue for her, but she was later adopted by a wonderful family in Dubuque, Iowa. 

On April 11, 2016 Hope had to be euthanized her health had become so compromised that she no longer had quality of life. 

“Aging a cat can be difficult and is mostly determined by tartar on their teeth. It was estimated that Hope was eight plus years of age,” Hartley said. 

During the time she was being cared for great support rolled in for Hope and her caregivers. More than $8,000 was raised to try to save her. Total costs to take care of her alone hit around $5,000. The remainder is how the trust was created, so this could be “pawed-It-forward” to other animals in need. 

“We try to never let our fund go below $1,000. This year, two fundraisers have been held. Last year COVID prevented the legacy from receiving very many donations.  We are now trying to recover from that loss,” Hartley said. 

All proceeds from every fundraiser goes into an account at Madison Road Veterinary Clinic. “We send anyone needing help to them so they can utilize the funding; we also keep a small amount in our “Petty Cash” fund to use as needed to purchase food or litter for animals we are helping,” Hartley said. 

Past fundraisers included selling keychains, t-shirts, restored garden bicycles, magnets, having Bingo parties, Karaoke for a Cause, paint nights, and the biggest event every year is an online auction.

“We have a great community of people that donate gently used or new items to our annual auction, which is currently running until Aug. 4,” Hartley said. 

One of Hartley’s friends helps with domesticated animals and another works with wildlife. Other friends have jumped on board to design and or create some of the fundraising ideas. 

Hope’s Legacy has lived on through hundreds of animals over the years. “Sometimes we have even been able to help owned animals when funds were available.”

The legacy has covered the costs of trims, vaccinations, heartworm testing, flea/heartworm preventatives, microchips, leg amputations, humane euthanasia, ER visits, parvo treatment, boarding and more. “Additionally we try to offer a donation to a rescue, if we need a rescue placement for an animal that we have been involved with helping,” Hartley said. “We do that to try to offset costs to the receiving rescue.”

The organization also has treat stations in set up in three different locations where they offer USA made treats in exchange for a donation in any amount. These can be found at Viking Lanes in South Beloit, MRVC and at Palpables Pub. Hopes Legacy & Trust is currently looking for more locations to set these up. Volunteers keep the treats stocked, provide the stand and pick up donations when refilling. 

Animals who have received loving care and help include cats, dogs, raccoons, horses, squirrels, frogs, snakes, rabbits, opossums, rats, and birds. 

“We have even helped with funding when trying to save dogs from illegal meat trade overseas. On occasion we will also help with purchasing a cat tree as an incentive to prevent people from declawing their cat.”

Hartley reflects, “The neatest experience I’ve had was assisting with an injured bald eagle that friends had found in a ditch after being struck by a car. We transported and donated to the facility that took in the eagle.”

“It is important to know that Hope’s Legacy & Trust is not a rescue. Although I have gained a wide variety of rescue contacts over the past 11 years being involved in animal advocacy, we do not have any foster homes and are unable to take in animals, but we will always do our best to provide resources to people seeking rescue assistance,” Hartley said. 

Hartley strongly shares this advice: Spay and neuter; this is the only way we will be able to reduce the overpopulation of companion animals. Donate to local charities as they need your money more than the bigger names you see flashing on your television screen.

Animals are not disposable; if you think that dumping an animal outside is better than taking it to your local shelter; it is not. If you must rehome your animal give yourself the time to secure a reputable rescue or contact your local shelter to see if there is a wait time for intake.

Do not leave them to fend for themselves. Be transparent; even when it is ugly; people will respect you more for your honesty. Be kind to your animal advocates and rescues. They are inundated daily with requests for help and most are run by volunteers that do this because helping animals is their passion. 

In the future Hartley is looking at the possibility of starting a rescue. 

Hope’s Legacy & Trust can be found on Facebook and accepts free will donations 

Hope’s Legacy honors the memory of life of one special cat; but holds great strength and passion for animals that need help both now and in the future. 

Hope’s Legacy & Trust can be found on Facebook and accepts free will donations via PayPal at legacy or directly to Madison Road Vet Clinic by calling 608-362-1952. A mail in option is also available. Please send to: 1800 S, Madison Road, Beloit, WI 53511. 

“We appreciate and thank everyone for their support of our compassion project,” Hartley said.

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