AWF Shelter sees recent increase in stray dogs

In September, AWF Shelter in Monticello took in Marshall, a stray dog found near Morley. Marshall weighed 35 pounds at the time, and has since put on more weight. AWF has seen an increase in stray dogs coming to the shelter. (Photos submitted)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Last year in 2019, 41 stray cats and dogs were reunited with their owners from the Animal Welfare Friends (AWF) Shelter in Monticello.

     However, recently, AWF has experienced an unusual influx of stray dogs coming to the shelter.

     Shelter Manager Amy Bradley shared that they secured four strays in 17 hours alone, a total of 11 in the month of December thus far.

     “Many of those dogs had collars but no tags or microchips,” noted Bradley.

     Typically, AWF holds an annual microchip fundraiser in the summer, allowing dog owners to bring in their pets to get chipped at a reduced cost. Sadly, due to COVID-19, the event was cancelled this year.

     Of those four strays that the shelter took in in less than 24 hours, two dogs were from the Wyoming area, one from outside of Monticello, and one someone brought in from Oxford Junction.

     “Two have not been reclaimed and are considered ours after seven days,” explained Bradley.

     The Jones County Sheriff’s Department and Anamosa Police Department contact the shelter any time they receive word of a stray dogs.

     “They call us and I go and pick it up,” Bradley said.

     The Monticello Police Department has a different process; those dogs found locally are taken to the vet clinic first.

     “Sometimes people will bring strays in they found, too,” added Bradley.

     Earlier this year, the Monticello Vet Clinic contact AWF because a box was left outside their door containing five mixed-breed puppies.

     “No one knew where it came from,” said Bradley. “But they got adopted right away.”

     When the shelter initially takes in a stray dog, it is placed in isolation for seven days to see if it can be reclaimed.

     “We can’t do anything with them until the seven days are up,” Bradley shared, “unless they’re injured or need medical attention. We do what we can for them.”

     After those seven days, if the dog remains at the shelter, it is fixed (spayed or neutered), microchipped, and dewormed.

     AWF took in two dogs from Oxford Junction. After a week, Bradley saw a post on Facebook from a woman inquiring as to whether anyone had seen her dogs.

     “If your pet is missing, the first place you should call is a shelter,” said Bradley of proper procedure. “People still don’t know this place exists.”

     The recent string of stray dogs has been OK health wise; however, Bradley said about an incident earlier this year had her in tears.

     “I cried when I picked up a dog off the Morley highway,” she said.

     The shelter received a call about a loose dog that appeared to be really thin near Morley. When Marshall (the dog) was brought to the shelter, he weighed only 35 pounds. Bradley said he should have weighed around 70 pounds.

     The minute she put Marshall into her car, he started licking her face.

     “He is still available for adoption,” urged Bradley of the Pitbull Terrier Mix. “He’s a big sweetheart.”

     As of the reasons so many stray dogs have come into the shelter, Bradley said the excuses break her heart.

     “The stores you hear are so sad,” she shared of people who raised a dog for so many years and no longer want it, or those who have an older dog and get rid of it before buying a younger dog for Christmas.

     Bradley said people tend to dump their dogs, too, just before it gets too cold in the winter.

     “They just don’t want them anymore,” she said.

     With so many strays coming in recently, the shelter had to erect pop-up kennels in the hallway because there were so many dogs that needed to be in isolation, away from the other dogs.

     “Once they’re vaccinated, they’re adoptable and can be put in the regular kennels,” explained Bradley.

     Aside from stray dogs, the shelter also has stray cats they take in. Bradley herself fostered 13 cats, six from the Anamosa State Penitentiary, after a pregnant lose cat found its way into prison walls.

     “We typically see more stray cats than dogs,” she said.

     Right now, with the holidays upon us, many gift dogs and cats to their loved ones for Christmas. Bradley has some words of warning for this occasion…

     “Study up on the breed you’re getting,” she said. “Puppies are cute, but don’t go by cuteness. Don’t get a high-energy dog if you live in an apartment. Dogs need exercise. You don’t want a farm dog cooped up inside all day. Do your research to see how big the dog will get. Research the temperament of the dog; some are different than others. This is important, especially with the age of the owner.”

     The shelter has had to cancel all of its fundraisers for 2020, and yet they still have expenses. You can donate to AWF by stopping at the shelter (22407 Business Highway 151, Monticello), or donating online at


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