After two decades of planning, HSNEI Love & Friendship Adoption Center now open for business

he Humane Society of Northeast Iowa opened its Love & Friendship Adoption Center located on Millennium Road in the Decorah Business Park, east of Decorah, during the first week of December. The Center serves a five-county area of Allamakee, Clayton, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek counties. Photo by Lissa Blake.

by Lissa Blake


Saving just one pet won’t change the world… but surely it will change the world for that one pet.

And stakeholders of the recently-opened Love & Friendship (animal) Adoption Center (L&F) near Decorah hope they’ve created something that will change the lives of many animals - and animal lovers - for years to come. The first week of December, the Humane Society of Northeast Iowa (HSNEI) opened its doors to the new shelter, after almost 20 years of planning.

The idea started in 1995 with the People for Animal Welfare (PAW) group, which reorganized into HSNEI in 2008. The volunteer organization works to help abused, neglected, abandoned and unwanted companion animals in a five-county area, which includes Allamakee, Clayton, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek counties.



Decorah’s Kim Powell, interim director of the center, joined HSNEI as board president in the summer of 2013. “Our volunteers had been holding fundraisers, but we obviously weren’t raising enough money to build a shelter,” said Powell.

She quickly went to work designing and launching a capital campaign. “We were so lucky to receive an early donation of $300,000 from Fritz and Loma Carlson (who named the Center) and gifts from a couple other big donors,” said Powell.

The public also stepped up to fill the “donor wall,” which contains personalized bricks on display at the shelter. Another boost was Decorah Jobs’ donation of two acres in the Decorah Business Park on Millennium Road east of Decorah. The Humane Society purchased one additional acre to complete the three-acre site and broke ground in June of this year.



Powell said since the doors opened December 3, the volunteer staff has had to hit the ground running. “The first day we were open, there were eight people who wanted to surrender animals,” she said.

Powell said since the center opened, there has been a constant flow of people through the door. “I think the impressions they may have had about other shelters is not what they see here,” she said. “People often think of shelter animals as sad and in cages. We worked to make this a bright, cheerful atmosphere where animals are really loved and cared for."

She said the Center can house a total of 46 dogs and 54 cats.



Powell said most of the animals housed at L&F are either surrendered by their owners or found as strays. “In order to surrender an animal, people need to fill out a surrender form,” said Powell.

She said those surrendering a pet are asked for a donation to cover some of the costs associated with finding a new home for the animal. “It’s costly for us to do all the vet work,” she said. “This time of year people get puppies or kittens as gifts, so we see huge surrenders in February or March.”



Powell, who is on sabbatical from her regular job as a professor of communication studies at Luther College in Decorah, said the Board is currently reviewing applications for a full-time, paid director position. “That’s the only position we’re hiring for right now. We may add more in the future,” she said.

Until then, Powell said the Center is relying on its Board members and consistent volunteers. “We currently have 90 people signed up for our volunteer orientations,” she said, adding those interested can sign up for volunteer training on the organization's website,

Jobs available include cleaning, working with animals to socialize them, training and playing with cats and puppies, general housekeeping tasks and transporting animals to the vet or to L&F from other counties.

“Some volunteers will just walk the dogs outside and work with them on manners… We work on things that will make them more ready for an adoptable home that will be successful for everyone,” she said.

Other ways to help include applying to become a foster home for animals before they come to L&F, donating money (many naming opportunities are still available) or donating items on the wish list found on the website. All donations are tax deductible.



Hours of operation are Wednesdays through Sundays, noon-4 p.m. and Thursday evenings until 6 p.m. Powell reminds the public to contact law enforcement about stray animals. Law enforcement agencies will then contact HSNEI. “We’re licensed as both an animal pound (short for impound) and a shelter,” she said. 



The average cost to adopt a pet is $175-$200, which Powell said isn’t bad, considering that includes spaying or neutering, all vet work/vaccinations and some training.

According to the Decorah Veterinary Clinic, the average cost to vaccinate and spay or neuter a medium-size dog - including surgery, blood work, anesthesia and vaccinations - is $300-$500. A cat’s expenses can run between $200 and $300.

Powell said she also is excited about a new onsite veterinary care room, which will be staffed by the Northeast Iowa Community College veterinary technician program under the teaching of Dr. Merill Guarneri of Critters and Such Pet Care. In addition, HSNEI is working to invite local veterinarians who are willing to work at the Center to perform spays/neuters, surgical procedures, checkups, vaccinations and more.



Pet owners who need assistance with sterilizing their own animals can inquire about HSNEI’s SNAP (spay/neuter assistance program), aimed at helping low-income families or college students. Applications are available at

For complete information on animal adoption, donations or volunteer opportunities, visit, Humane Society of Northeast Iowa on Facebook or call 563-382-0500.

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