AWF looks to build animal shelter near Monticello

Posted January 23, 2013 at 11:53 am

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PHOTO: Kelly Day, president of the Animal Welfare Foundation, addresses a crowd of 30-some people at a public meeting at the Anamosa library concerning the animal shelter. Others on the AWF Board include Ruth Carlson, Annie Locher and former Jones County Sheriff Mark Denniston. (Photo by Kim Brooks)

By Kim Brooks, Express Editor

The Animal Welfare Foundation of Iowa is currently located in Anamosa. Plans are underway to relocate to the outskirts of Monticello, near Highway 151 and Business Highway 151 north of Monticello. The group purchased 8.68 acres of land at that location with the intent to build an animal adoption shelter, catering to cats and dogs.

Run and led by volunteers, the AWF exists through donations, whether from families, individuals or other community organizations.

“AWF is made up of volunteers who feel the need to help animals in the community,” said Kelly Day, president of the AWF.

Right now, the AWF has to seek foster homes in the area for dogs waiting to be adopted into loving homes, as the AWF is running out of room.

“Currently, all animals we save are being cared for through the use of state-licensed foster homes because Jones County does not have a shelter,” Day explained. “While the foster homes do a wonderful service, there are several problems with this arrangement.”

Those issues include not having enough room to showcase all of the dogs in one location for adoption.

“Currently you would have to schedule a meeting with the foster home of whichever pet you are interested in,” Day explained. “This does not allow you the opportunity to meet another pet at the same time that might be a better fit for your family and some people are reluctant to go to homes to view pets.”

With foster homes spread across the county, Day said not having centralized shelter location “makes it harder to ensure that all foster homes receive the same training and continue to receive additional training.”

Another issue, the AWF is restricted by the state on the number of homeless pets they can care for.

“When we reach the number of pets allowed, we must search for alternative methods of helping the dog, such as locating another rescue and transporting them to that rescue, or pay for boarding fees. Either way, the AWF incurs $175 in medical expense making sure the dog is ready for adoption. When we transport to another rescue, we receive no income from the pet. When we board them at $15 per day, our expenses greatly increase,” Day said. It’s a never-ending issue.

That is why the AWF is in need of a shelter facility. This would allow them to care for more animals and recoup some of the expenses they currently deal with.

“We’ll have more funds available to help more animals,” Day said.

During a public meeting held at the Anamosa library on Jan. 17, volunteers with the AWF spoke on the topic of a new shelter and why this is a need that they hope to fill in Jones County.

Annie Locher with the AWF told the crowd that she is pleased with the direction they are going with wanting to build a new shelter. While plans are just in the beginning stages, the land has been purchased, but nothing can take place until funds are secured. The organization is still trying to decide the right type of shelter facility to build.

“Our goal is to help homeless pets find loving homes,” Locher said. She adopted a cat and several dogs herself.

One interesting fact, if every household in Jones County donated $50 towards the shelter, the facility would be paid for. Day said she hopes to build the shelter for less than $500,000.

“Our goal depends on the residents of Jones County and people who support us,” she said. AWF is not funded by the county or the cities in Jones County. They have received grants in the past.

“It’s because of you that we’ve come as far as we have,” said AWF volunteer Ruth Carlson. She took the time to visit several animal shelters across the state to get ideas on what AWF could incorporate into their new facility.

“During tough economic times, our services are needed now more than ever,” Carlson pointed out, as people tend to give up their pets due to the added expenses when times are tough.

Mark Denniston, former Jones County Sheriff, is also an AWF volunteer. He said during his time in law enforcement in the county, having people like AWF would alleviate some of the burden on the county to find homes for abandoned pets.

“I’ve always been a huge fan of this group,” he said. Denniston said he owns a cat and a dog that were both rescued.

With relocating to the Monticello area, AWF is hoping to still stay in contact with shelters in Cedar Rapids and then establish a working relationship with Dubuque.

For more information on AWF, visit their website at You can donate online towards their shelter project efforts. You can also mail donations to: Animal Welfare Foundation of Iowa, P.O. Box 573, Marion, Iowa 52302. All donations are tax-deductible. You also call AWF at 319-462-5683 to pledge your donations.