Helping Hands Are Sought

There is constant motion at Stephen Memorial Animal Shelter, whether it’s wagging tails, dancing paws, or human hands stroking fluffy backs.

Upon arriving at the shelter and checking in with the main office, you’re free to visit the cats and dogs. There are currently around 15 dogs, and their area is a cacophony of excited barks and howls, with paws and noses poking between the bars of the kennels, eager for a walk or a pat.

The cat room is quieter, with some cats feigning disinterest or sleeping, or actively trying to climb into your arms. They have access not only to their own room and beds, but they also enjoy a fenced-in area outside.

Shelter Executive Director Lindsey Sime keeps a baby gate in the door of her office to prevent some of the youngest kittens from roaming the larger main office. There are currently around 100 cats and kittens up for adoption at the shelter.

Volunteerism is a very important part of keeping the animal shelter functioning and the animals happy. There are around 100 volunteers currently, 25-30 of whom are regulars. “Summer and fall is when we get really busy and need help,” said Sime.

“The workers essentially don’t have time to do enrichment with the animals, play with them. Unfortunately, we have to get all the messy stuff done before we can do the fun stuff, so we rely on the volunteers to do the fun stuff for us. It’s still really important that the animals get the enrichment that they need while they’re here so they can stay healthy and adoptable.”

Becoming a volunteer is very easy. “All you do is come in, say you want to volunteer, fill out an info sheet, and then you can volunteer any time
we’re open,” said Sime.

“We always have volunteers coming in on a daily basis.”

Volunteer duties including walking and bathing animals, playing with them, and assisting with fundraisers.

If you feel you don’t have time to volunteer, donations are always appreciated, and can be anything from food and cat litter to toys and blankets. The shelter doesn’t open until 11 a.m., but donations are welcome any time. “If it’s something that you’re comfortable just setting by the gate after we’re closed, we’ll get them in the morning,” said Sime.

For families looking to adopt a kitten, the shelter is having “Free Kitten Friday” on September 4. If you bring in a donation from the shelter’s wish list (which can include food, cat litter, and toys), the shelter will waive the adoption fee on the kitten that you choose to adopt.

“This year, we have close to 50 kittens we need to find homes for, so we’re hoping to get a lot of people in for Free Kitten Friday,” said Sime.

“It’s been pretty successful in the past. We do it when we’re getting really full like this. We just want to find them a home. It costs way more for us to take care of them for an extended period of time than it costs to waive the adoption fee.”

Further information, including volunteering, adoption and fostering applications and adoption fees can be found on the website at

Story by Angie Holland of the Oskaloosa Herald


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