Safe, Love and Care; Iowa City Animal Shelter

Volunteer Darrelle Wilkinson: engaging with Pancakes the rabbit.

Volunteer Darrelle Wilkinson: engaging with Pancakes the rabbit.

Taylor Dolezal, Social Media Editor

The Iowa City Animal Care & Adoption Center is a caring and nurturing organization that helps with affirming care and adoption for animals. On September 17th, I got the opportunity to interview Shawna Elder, a current Animal Center Assistant. I was able to tour the facility and learn more about the shelter!

Basic Information; Animal Shelter

As of September 17th, 2022 the Iowa City Animal Shelter has about 197 animals within its care. That includes the animals in the shelter and the animals within foster care. About 150 of the 197 animals are cats. There are a variety of animals that have appeared in the shelter including rabbits, hamsters, amphibians, and lots more! There is no expiration date for these animals, as long as they can be worked with and are healthy. The shelter only euthanizes for health and temperament or if the animal is too dangerous to be put out into the public.

Volunteer System

Volunteers help drastically in the shelter. This includes washing laundry, doing the dishes, interacting with the animals, taking them on walks, and so much more. 16 or older is the age limit to volunteer by yourself although if you are 13+ you are allowed to volunteer with a guardian/parent. The minimum amount of time volunteers are required to help in the shelter is 2 hours a month, to be considered an active volunteer. There are classes volunteers can participate in that the Iowa City Animal Shelter provides, free of charge once you’ve applied and have been accepted to be an active volunteer.

Elder goes into depth about the classes you can take, “There are some basic intro-volunteer classes and then are specified classes for the types of animals you want to work with. You are also allowed to sign up for cleaning shifts that occur every morning.” 

Volunteers help with cleaning and socializing with animals, and they make a huge impact on the program. They are an essential part of keeping the shelter up and running. 

Foster Program

The fostering system is integrated into the volunteer program. Although people are still able to foster even if they are not a volunteer. The shelter’s foundation provides materials to help care for and provide for the animal(s) you are fostering. That includes things like cat litter, medication, food and etc.

“For a stable environment for the animals, we try to have everyone doing the same thing. That way it’s very consistent for the animals even though it would be a very inconsistent environment for them,” Elder stated, discussing the process of fostering. 

Once one has applied online to be a foster parent, the shelter undergoes an inspection to see the environment and where the animal would be staying. Foster parents are allowed to specify what type of animal(s) they are willing to foster.


Safe practice and training are taught and encouraged at the shelter. People with allergies are not banished but are warned about the possibility of allergic reactions. It depends on the severity of the allergy and how it affects the volunteer.

“We don’t want our volunteers to put themselves in an unsafe situation, where they could be hurt or have a severe allergic reaction,” Elder says, talking about volunteers with allergies.

Training and classes are emplaced so volunteers interacting with the animals are safe and consistent with their actions.

Overall the Iowa City Animal Care & Adoption Center is a safe place for animals that are in need of extensive care. There are many programs in place to ensure a loving and supportive environment for animals and volunteers.