Sara Swanson

Happy Hearts Feline Rescue granted permit to continue operating with conditions

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Happy Hearts Feline Rescue located in Freedom Township will be allowed to continue operating as a feline rescue, although it will no longer be allowed to utilize volunteers.

Earlier this year, Jef & Jeanette Spencer, who operate Happy Hearts Feline Rescue located at 10905 E. Pleasant Lake Rd. in Freedom Township, were notified that they were not in compliance with the Township’s Zoning Ordinance and in order to continue operating, they required a Conditional Use Permit. On October 3, Freedom Township held a public hearing as part of the application process. At the following monthly meeting, the Planning Commission unanimously approved a Conditional Use Permit and the Spencers will be allowed to continue the operation of Happy Hearts Feline Rescue.

Five conditions were established with the granting of the permit: no persons other than members of the family residing on the premises shall be engaged in the operations (i.e. no volunteers), the operation is capped at 40 rescue cats, the operation must continue to comply with Section 5.204 of the Freedom Township Zoning Ordinance, it must comply to the Happy Hearts Feline Rescue Maintenance Plan it submitted to the Planning Commission, and it must supply copies of the Annual Inspection Report and any other documents issued by the State of Michigan to the rescue.

Jef and Jeanne Spencer stated that they are pleased that the permit was issued, but that the fact that Happy Hearts can no longer utilize volunteers is a hardship to both the rescue and the community. They also stated, “Supporters of the Rescue were also elated that the Commission saw value in the operation and found a way to enable it to continue under the Township Ordinance. However, they too are disappointed that they can no longer support the organization with volunteer services and plan to continue to bring this up to the Township Board.”

Happy Hearts is a 501 (c)3 organization and the shelters are licensed by the State of Michigan. Their mission is to rescue, provide veterinary care, shelter and adoption opportunities for the cats. The shelter houses a total of 40 cats, all of which are spayed/neutered, vaccinated and parasite-free. Most are socialized and ready for adoption. All shelter cats are kept inside the shelter 100% of the time.

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