Our Shelter

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The Animal Welfare Friends shelter is a no-kill shelter located just north of Monticello, Iowa. Our shelter features two free roam cat rooms with large windows, indoor & outdoor dog kennels, a grassy run for the dogs to exercise in, and walking paths on the grounds for our volunteers to walk dogs on. We are the only and first shelter in the county, and are so proud to be able to help our community & their animals live healthy, safe, happy lives!

Shelter History

In May 2006, AWF embarked on a campaign to raise funds to build an animal shelter in Jones County. In the next 10 years, we raised nearly $250,000 towards this goal.

After years of hard work, AWF was able to purchase land for the shelter in 2012. The 8.68 acres, located just north of Monticello at off Highway 151, gave us plenty of space for not just a shelter, but also a dog park and additional animal event spaces.

After this purchase, the AWF board began working on the plans for the animal shelter in conjunction with architect Sarah Coleman of Martin Gardner Architecture.


AWF already had an “Animal Shelter” license from the state of Iowa, which required that we had a facility. AWF’s Cat Adoption Center in Anamosa fulfilled that requirement. However, the Cat Adoption Center caught on fire on October 20th, 2013, leaving us without a facility. AWF was able to rent a small office in Olin, Iowa to temporarily fulfill the location requirements for the state of Iowa, but the pressure was on more than ever to get the shelter built.

Though we would have ideally built a 6,000 square foot building, reality dictated that we start out small and leave room to add on later as more funding becomes available.


We focused on getting the septic, well, and utilities in along with a road so we could then pour 3,000 square feet of concrete for the floor and construct the building over it. An animal shelter at the time cost $250 per square feet to construct. This would mandate $750,000 for a 3,000 square foot shelter. However, we determined that by purchasing dog & cat kennels used, and focusing on getting the simple basics functioning, we could get the shelter built for $525,000.

In October 2016, construction on the shelter was completed and we opened our doors to the people and animals of Jones County, Eastern Iowa, and beyond! We’re proud to be no-kill, meaning animals can stay at our shelter as long as they need to while they wait for their forever family to find them. Since the shelter’s opening, we’ve been able to save over 1,000 of cats & dogs from uncertain futures.  We’ve also been able to reunite over 150 local lost animals with their family, as well as hosting multiple low cost microchip & vaccination clinics to help area animals stay healthy and safe.

In 2022, with the support of many amazing individuals and families, we completed our next goal of constructing a dog park on our land! It’s been a joy to offer this wonderful space for the dogs in our community.

Now we are looking forward for more opportunities to help the animals and their families in our community and beyond live the best lives they can.