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It Takes A Hearts Alive Village To Rescue 5,000 Pets In Las Vegas

Doug Puppel/Nevada Public Radio

Kennel aide Debbie D'Ambrose, a retired nurse from New York, tends to the cats at the Hearts Alive Village pet supply store in Las Vegas. The store on South Rainbow Boulevard helps fund the group's animal rescue efforts.

Hearts Alive Village, which finds home for unwanted pets, just marked its 5,000th rescued animal.

The Las Vegas nonprofit traces its roots back a decade when the Stevens family volunteered together at a small animal shelter.

Kendall Stevens, the youngest in the family, wanted to do more. Writing in her fifth-grade English journal, she came up with the cause's mission and name.

"If I had one birthday wish for my next birthday it would be that I could live on 10 acres of land and that I would have a small animal foundation called Hearts Alive," she wrote.

Today her mother, Christy Stevens, is executive director of an organization that promotes pet adoption and funds its operations through retail stores and veterinary services as well as donations.

"We did it one animal at a time," Christy Stevens told State of Nevada. "Our first year in 2014, when we first started rescuing,

"I think we rescued 42 animals that year without a brick-and-mortar location and utilizing only foster homes."

She said that the group has doubled its intake numbers every year since then, relying on a formula to identify a pet "who wasn’t going to have any luck making it on adoptions, get them all of the medical care that they needed, and that second chance."

Kendall Stevens said she looks forward to a lifelong association with Hearts Alive, maybe even replacing her mom as executive director.

"The compassion that you develop and the love, and being able to truly see how deeply these creatures can love" inspire her, adding, "I grew up with a sister and she was a pit-mastiff mix; she was my sister to the core."

Christy Stevens, executive director, Hearts Alive Village; Kendall Stevens, inspiration, Hearts Alive Village

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Christopher Alvarez is a news producer and podcast audio editor at Nevada Public Radio for the State of Nevada program, and has been with them for over a year.