Editor’s Note: This is the ninth and final article in a series of submitted articles supporting the effort to raise the funds needed to build a Midlands Humane Society facility in Council Bluffs.
People who are looking to adopt an animal in Council Bluffs often find their way to the city’s “pound” on Indian Creek south of 24th Avenue. A yellow Labrador named K.C. is typical of the animals that can be found there.
When his owners moved from Council Bluffs, they took the furniture and their personal belongings, but they didn’t take K.C. He was left in the back yard to fend for himself. A neighbor finally noticed the “emaciated looking” dog in the back yard and called Council Bluffs Animal Control. He was rescued and brought to the Council Bluffs Animal Shelter for adoption.
Soon after K.C.’s arrival, Kim Palmer and daughter Olivia volunteered to walk shelter dogs with the Council Bluffs Dog Walking club. The Palmers had recently lost their Labrador, Ozzy, and they, along with Ozzy’s companion, a Labradoodle named Sammy, were still grieving the loss. They weren’t looking for another dog but when Olivia saw K.C. that morning, she quickly decided that K.C. was just what lonely Sammy needed to cheer her up.
After some family discussion, the Palmers adopted K.C. He runs with Kim almost daily and sleeps on the bed every night. With the investment of time, love and patience, the Palmers are enjoying the rewards of pet adoption. Nine-year-old Olivia continues to “pay it forward.” After earning $150 for straight A’s, she donated the entire amount to the Council Bluffs Animal Shelter in the form of new collars and leashes for the Walking Club. She’s determined that the next K.C. will find a home as good as their’s.
The Palmers are one of the hundreds of adoptions that occur every year at the Council Bluffs Animal Shelter. Staff and volunteers manage these adoptions while working out of an aging and undersized facility. The shelter has capacity to care for 30 dogs and 20 cats. Each year, some 500 Iowa dogs and cats are taken to the Nebraska Humane Society and hundreds more are rejected due to overcrowding at the Nebraska facility. These statistics will get worse as Council Bluffs grows.
A new animal shelter in Council Bluffs is more than a “nice to have.” It is rapidly becoming a necessity.
Donn Dierks, director of Council Bluffs Public Health, notes, “For several years, the Council Bluffs Animal Shelter and Midlands Humane Society have collaborated on a plan to help the community better care for the large number of displaced animals. The best solution is a new facility that will be operated by the Midlands Humane Society in conjunction with the city.”
The collaborative plan creates a public-private partnership that will maximize the impact of both private contributions and taxpayer dollars. Animal control services in Council Bluffs – such as picking up strays, controlling dangerous animals, and licensing pets – are provided by the city.
These services are funded primarily by taxpayers. With the involvement of Midlands Humane Society, individuals and organizations can contribute private funds to improve the range and quality of services that are offered in Council Bluffs.
Private contributions will also come in the form of volunteers. The use of volunteer time to provide animal care offers a direct benefit for taxpayers since it reduces the time that animal control officers spend cleaning cages and caring for animals in their custody. These duties take time away from the public safety responsibilities of city employees.
The local volunteer organization SOLAS, Support Our Local Animal Shelter, has long provided invaluable assistance to the city in caring for animals at the shelter. Under that arrangement, the animal remains the city’s responsibility as long as it is at the facility.
At the new shelter, Midlands Humane Society will take legal responsibility for the animal as soon as it is released from mandatory hold. At that point, the city will have no financial responsibility for the animal. With this arrangement, difficult decisions about how long an animal can be held for adoption can be based solely on the interests of the animal rather than weighing the interests of the taxpayer.
The city has offered Midlands Humane Society a long-term, low-cost lease on approximately seven acres adjacent to Iowa Western Community College. The proposed 13,000-square foot building will more than double the holding areas currently available at the Council Bluffs Animal Shelter. Based on the city’s rescue numbers and data from similarly sized communities, Midlands Humane Society expects to provide services to 5,000 animals in the first year, increasing to 7,000 animals annually by 2020. The building design and location will allow expansion if additional space is needed.
The building will include high-quality climate control and ventilation systems to promote animal health; natural light and exercise areas for animal well being; and space for the care and treatment of injured or sick animals, including quarantine areas to prevent the spread of sickness and disease. There will be workspace for Council Bluffs animal control personnel as well as humane society employees and volunteers.
Public spaces at the new shelter will include adoption rooms, get-acquainted rooms and a lobby for public business. An attractive area with appropriate space for adoption services will increase the number of pets who find permanent homes and will reduce the incidence of euthanasia. The adjacent dog park will be available to area residents who wish to become members.
A number of new community services can be provided by the expanded humane society. These include pet therapy visits to hospitals, nursing homes and group facilities; educational and volunteer opportunities for area students; connections to nationwide animal rescue efforts such as the nationally recognized Pilots N Paws organization; and low-cost training and education services for new pet owners.
Midlands Humane Society has raised $2.5 million toward construction of a new animal shelter in Council Bluffs. The organization needs an additional $700,000 in order to fund the project. Community support is vital for this project to proceed.
A list of donors to the project is shown here. Based on the size of each contribution, there are a variety of recognition opportunities, ranging from naming the building to having a permanent inscription attached to an individual kennel.
To add your name to the donor list, mail your contribution to P.O. Box 1591, Council Bluffs, IA, 51502, or visit the website at midlandshumanesociety.org. For more information about naming opportunities, leave a message at (712) 308-1847 and someone will return your call.