Fort Dodge has a beautiful new animal shelter, thanks to the work of a group of dedicated volunteers. The shelter is opening the last week in September at 725 S. 32nd St. The Almost Home Adoption and Education Center has space for 98 dogs and 156 cats with an on-site veterinary clinic. The old shelter opened in a temporary building and remained there for 35 years.
The Friends of The Animals: "meet every Wednesday," said Humane Society of North Central Iowa Executive Director Laurie Hagey. Sometimes thirty people show up, she said. "This group primarily coordinates our special events which are done to raise funds to operate the shelter," Hagey said.
"Every year between 60 to 70 percent of our revenue comes from fundraising so this is a very important group," she said.
Friends of the Animals have been instrumental is getting the new animal shelter up and running.
Formed in November of 2008 their first event was the Fur Ball which raised about $75,000 said Hagey. It has become an annual event.
"One of our volunteers did a letter to the editor in the Messenger and said we were going to start a volunteer group for the shelter and if you want to help, show up," she said.
The first meeting was on a very snowy Saturday at the Bob Huen Shelter House at Kennedy Park and about twenty people came. "They were the beginning," Hagey said.
Almost Home Adoption and Education Center
725 S. 32nd St.
"At the new shelter we will have another volunteer group that will assist with shelter operations. They will be our receptionists. They will wash dogs, socialize cats, and help us with the animals. I'm sure a number of these people will do that as well," she said of the Friends of the Animals.
"To belong to that group you have to attend orientation and take training. To belong to this group you just show up any Wednesday at four o'clock at Godfathers," Hagey said.
Volunteer John Ford said he first began volunteering five or six years ago but dropped out. "After Laurie took over she called me and I volunteered to help," he said. "I've always wanted it but I didn't know if it was ever going to happen, ever going to get done or not," he said. "I really wanted to see this happen."
"John Ford has been a huge help," Hagey said.
Dawn Luppes wanted to volunteer at the animal shelter for a long time. When she began her job as lab manager for Valero Renewables she was in Fort Dodge more often and was able to volunteer. "Valero encourages volunteerism throughout the community," she said.
Gina Schoon had taken the training and was volunteering to help care for animals at the old shelter when she heard about the new volunteer group forming and decided to come. She fosters cats and kittens and when they are doing well she brings them back to the shelter. She doesn't volunteer at the shelter these days but: "I always have an animal at my house from the shelter."
"I'm really glad the shelter is a no kill shelter, said volunteer Cindy Larson. "It's really been fun. It's rewarding and I've gone out of my box to do things that I never thought I'd ever do," she said. "I've wanted to do it for a long time and I talked to Mark and Mark dragged me in."
The other volunteers said Mark Good was instrumental in getting them involved too. "I worked with Laurie in getting a group together and calling up people and asking for volunteers," he said. "It's not one individual. It's the group that puts it on. It's the group effort. It's the community support."
Of the new shelter Good said: "It's absolutely wonderful." Many ideas from a lot of people went into the shelter. "It's beyond belief that it is actually here. The community and the animals have waited for it for 30 years," he said. "The city has been generous in what they have done in helping us get it together."
"I'm so excited about getting the new shelter," said Larson.