Clinic Dates for May 2016

Remaining April 2016 Dates:

April 15th, Rockwell City, (Spay and Neuter Clinic for Small Dogs & Cats) ***AM Vaccination appointments have been added for this clinic!!

April 20th, Winterset, (Spay and Neuter Clinic for Dogs & Cats)

April 25th, Dallas Center, (Spay and Neuter Clinic for Dogs & Cats)

April 27th, Newton (Spay and Neuter Clinic for Dogs & Cats)


May 2016 Dates:

Saturday May 7th, Emmet County, (Shelter Animals Only!)

Friday May 13th, Jewell, (Spay and Neuter Clinic for Dogs & Cats)

Saturday May 14th, Wholesome Pet Essentials, (adoption/microchips)

Wednesday May 18th, Newton, (Spay and Neuter Clinic for Dogs & Cats)

Friday May 20th, Rockwell City, (Spay and Neuter Clinic for Dogs & Cats)

Saturday May 21st, Ankeny Vaccine clinic, at Tractor Supply

Monday May 23rd, Jefferson, (Spay and Neuter Clinic for Dogs & Cats)


Saturday June 4th, Redfield, (vaccinations in the am, and Spay & Neuter Clinic after 12pm noon)

FIV in Cats: Frequently Asked Questions


What is FIV?  FIV stands for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, and it causes a weakening of a cat’s immune system.  It is a kitty version of HIV in humans.

What are the symptoms of FIV?  Sometimes, there are no symptoms at all.  FIV is a retrovirus that can incubate inside the body for months and sometimes even years, and it’s a very slow-moving virus.  When there are symptoms, they can be all over the map – there is no one symptom that definitively points to FIV.  A cat can show signs of illness interspersed with periods of health.  However, you should always take your cat to the vet when it shows symptoms like enlarged lymph nodes, weight loss, or diarrhea.

How will the vet know if my cat has FIV?  The only way to know is by doing a blood test.  A cat can test positive from 2-4 weeks after exposure, but it can sometimes take longer.  Kittens can test positive after having received the antibodies from their mother’s milk, so it’s always a good idea to retest the kitten later on, since it takes up to six months for those antibodies to go away.  (Actually, it’s always a good idea to retest a cat that tested positive – around 60% of FIV tests are false positives!)

How is FIV transmitted?  The most common way is through a bite wound from an FIV-positive cat to another cat.  It can also be transmitted through blood, in utero, and through a mother’s milk.


Can a cat with FIV live with other cats?  Absolutely, as long as the cats get along and do not fight.  FIV is not spread through bowl-sharing, litter-box-sharing, or other casual forms of contact – only through blood/bite wounds.  Some cat owners choose to keep their FIV-positive cat in a separate room/floor from their other cats, which seems to work well for them.

Can I get FIV from a cat?  No, absolute not!

What is the treatment for FIV?  There is no specific treatment for the virus itself.  The secondary diseases that come about as a result of FIV, however, can usually be treated.

How can I keep my cat from getting FIV?  First and foremost, keep your cat in the house; this ensures that he cannot get into a fight with an FIV-positive cat.  Recently adopted cats should always be tested for FIV before being brought into the house.  Always spay and neuter your cats – this reduces the likelihood of fighting.  There is a vaccine for FIV, but it is rather controversial – you’ll want to consult your vet about it first.


I have an FIV-positive cat – how can I keep him healthy?  Be sure to regularly monitor your cat for any changes or symptoms, and bring him to the vet if you notice anything out of the ordinary.  Always keep him inside to prevent him from spreading the virus to other cats; this will also protect him from things outdoors that could bring on infection or disease.  It is also very important to keep your regular vet visits – at least twice a year – to make sure your kitty stays healthy.

Will my FIV-positive cat have a short lifespan?  Not necessarily!  If you keep him indoors and visit the vet regularly, FIV-positive cats can live relatively normal, healthy lives.  The secondary diseases your cat may pick up as a result of the virus can almost always be treated.

There is an adorable FIV-positive kitty up for adoption at my local shelter.  Should I adopt it, or are the risks too great?  If you have another cat at home, you will first need to make sure that neither one will fight with the other, or that you have a separate room for the new kitty to live in.  Otherwise, go for it!  FIV-positive cats often lead very healthy and comfortable lives, so there is no reason to forgo adopting one just because of the virus.


While A.P.E. doesn’t currently have any FIV-positive kitties up for adoption (we have one in foster care who needs to be socialized before being adopted), we do have lots of gorgeous cats available, from baby to senior, and in all sorts of beautiful colors!  This includes Hudson, whose photo is above!  Check them out here!

Sources:  Best Friends Animal Society, PetMD, ASPCA


5 Reasons to Consider Rescuing a Senior Pet

(This piece was originally posted in November 2014 on my blog, Second Chances.  It has been updated and modified for A.P.E.)

One of the most heartbreaking things to see is a senior dog or cat sitting behind bars in a shelter.  And it happens so often.  I am ashamed to admit that sometimes I scroll fast past a photo of an elderly dog with the caption reading “To be destroyed”, because the sadness of it all can be overwhelming.  There are, after all, so many homeless senior animals, and so few of those who can appreciate how wonderful old pets are.

Many people mistakenly believe that older pets must have done something wrong to end up in a shelter – they must have had some “naughty” behaviors for their owners to surrender them.  This is not true!  Many times, senior dogs and cats end up in shelters because their owners have passed away or become ill; other times, owners move into assisted living or cannot financially care for their pet anymore.  In most cases, senior animals are in shelters through no fault of their own.  I have met many senior pets within the past few years, and each has been more sweet and loving than the last.  Here’s why you should consider adding an older dog or cat to your family.


A painting of my husband’s grandpa’s late dog, Lucy…Wasn’t she beautiful?

Fewer surprises – One of the top reasons for people returning a dog to a shelter is because they adopted the dog when it was a puppy and “didn’t realize how big he was going to get.”  Another reason is not doing enough research into the breed; for example, Australian Shepherd or Border Collie puppies will get adopted then returned because the family hadn’t realized how much energy they’d have.  When you adopt a senior dog, what you see is basically what you get:  for the most part, their personalities are already formed, and their size isn’t going to change.  The same can be true with cats – kittens love to playfully claw and bite, and some owners may not realize that before adopting a young cat.

Less training – In general, adoptable senior dogs and cats are fairly well-trained.  When I worked in a shelter, it was the older dogs who kept the cleanest kennels and seemed to be the most reliable in terms of “holding it.”  Besides some training to work on his barking, my 8-year-old Riley came to us fully house-broken and even knew a few tricks when we adopted him.  Seniors are also calmer than puppies or kittens (at least most of the time!), so chances are, they’re easier to train.  In shelters, people tend to gravitate towards the adorable puppies and kitties, but older pets don’t come with the crazy energy and tendency to chew, bite, or claw that young ones have!

Low maintenance and great for families – Sure, a senior dog would love to go for a walk with you…but he’s just as content curled up on your lap on the couch.  And an older kitty is more than happy to bat around a toy for a while…but what she really loves is to take naps with you!  Though senior pets often still have energy to play, they are starting to slow down and enjoy living the lazy life – so if you’re short on time to play or lead a busy family life, an older animal might be good for your lifestyle.  Older pets also tend to be more independent and don’t need constant attention like puppies and kittens do – this is ideal for families with young children who do constant attention. (Keep in mind that although older pets might need less exercise, that doesn’t mean they don’t need any!  Get out the leash or laser pointer at least once a day so that your senior dog or cat can still get the exercise they need.)


They’re adorable! – Let’s face it, dogs and cats only get cuter with age.  Nothing is sweeter than a furry face with a greying muzzle, and I think society (or at least social media) is starting to embrace that.  Sites like Buzzfeed are constantly sharing photos or stories about senior pets, and often the Instagram pets that get the most “likes” are older animals.  Even better, organizations like Susie’s Senior Dogs are popping up everywhere, aiming to find perfect homes for senior adoptables.

Save a life – Senior dogs and cats are often the first ones to be euthanized if a shelter is short on space.  They are constantly looked over in favor of those who are younger, healthier, cuter, etc.  Saving a dog or cat that is getting up there in years feels good, and it’s highly rewarding.  The bond you and your pet will form after you have saved his life is an amazing thing, and he’ll be devoted to you for the rest of his days.



This beautiful girl is Cosmo, a super-sweet senior currently available for adoption through A.P.E.  Cosmo adores children, and she loves nothing more than a good cuddle!  She is a bit overweight – more of her to love! – and will need to stay on diet food once she is adopted.  If you’re interested in this gorgeous senior gal, contact us or fill out an adoption application.  Remember:  Adopting a senior pet is seriously rewarding!

What do you love about senior pets?  Share in the comments! :)

TNR: What You Need to Know

Free-roaming and feral cats are the reason for the majority of kittens born in the United States.  Shelters are packed with kittens and young cats without homes, and sadly, many of them end up being euthanized.  It’s a huge problem.  So, how can we help?  Short answer:  Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR).


Since feral cats have no owner to bring them in to be fixed, they must be humanely trapped.  Once the kitty is safe inside the trap, they are then taken to a vet or clinic to be spayed/neutered, vaccinated and micro-chipped.  Finally, the cat is returned to its original territory, usually with a “notch” in his ear – this identifies the cat as being altered, vaccinated and micro-chipped .  This is the only surefire method that has been proven to reduce a community’s euthanasia rates in the free-roaming cat population.  Since the feral cats can no longer reproduce, their numbers naturally decline.  TNR is also safe and cost-effective.

Did you know that A.P.E. is Iowa’s largest provider of TNR?  It’s true!  We also run the only mobile TNR service in Iowa, which serves even more feral cats than other clinics do.  We have assisted multiple counties in Iowa with setting up their own TNR programs, including Guthrie, Greene, Dallas, Harrison, and Calhoun.  We even had a police officer comment on how drastically his calls on feral cats were reduced after A.P.E. got the program established!


The idea for A.P.E. and a TNR program came about when one of the founders of A.P.E. was in the army in California.  This was in the early 90s, and the concept of TNR wasn’t nearly as widespread as it is today.  A small group of people on the base established a TNR program for barn cats that were living in a horse boarding stable.  This was where A.P.E. and its focus on Trap/Neuter/Return were born.

Before A.P.E. was established in 2003, a group of volunteers got together and wrote the policies and code that are still in place today on our TNR program.  Other towns are still contacting us today to use these policies in their own communities.  Recently, communities in Polk, Emmett, and Calhoun county reached out to us for these sample codes to ensure the safety of animals in their communities. The following is an example of the code A.P.E. has in place for our TNR program.

55.19 MANAGED FERAL CATS. The animal care and control division or its designee in the City of [Your Town], in order to encourage the stabilization of the feral cat population in the City may implement the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) Program as follows:

1. Live-trap any free-roaming cat in a humane manner,

2. Have the cat surgically altered, ear-notched (if feral), and vaccinated against rabies, and

3. If stray, release the cat to a humane organization for adoption or other disposition in accordance with law, or, if feral, return to a colony caretaker who will maintain the cat as part of the managed feral cat colony.

Read more about Trap/Neuter/Return here, and click here to see how you can help with our efforts to control the population of free-roaming cats.

Urgent: A.P.E. Needs Your Help


Can you help us??  A.P.E. has two animals in foster homes that are very sick and in need of immediate medical care.  We are launching an online fundraiser right away to raise the funds needed, eventually hoping to reach $1,000.  One of the animals is a cat with coccidia, which is a parasitic infection that can cause serious damage in a cat’s intestinal tract.  The other is a dog with a bowel obstruction requiring immediate surgery.  As I type this, both animals are fighting for their lives.  Remember, A.P.E. can’t do this without you – can you donate?  Every dollar helps.  Click here to see how you can donate.  Thank you so much for your generosity and support.

Clinic Dates for March and April 2016

March 4th, Jewell, Spay & Neuter Clinic (Dogs & Cats)

March 9th, Newton, Spay & Neuter Clinic (Dogs & Cats)

March 18th, Rockwell City, Spay & Neuter Clinic (Small Dogs & Cats)

March 19th, Ankeny, Microchip ID Clinic

March 23rd, Winterset, Spay & Neuter Clinic (Dogs & Cats)

March 28th, Redfield, Spay & Neuter Clinic (Small Dogs & Cats)

March 28th, Redfield, Vaccine clinic for Redfield Residents


April 1st, Jewell, Spay & Neuter Clinic (Dogs & Cats)

April 6th, Newton, Spay & Neuter Clinic (Dogs & Cats)

April 9th, Redfield, Vaccine clinic for Redfield Residents

April 15th, Rockwell City, Spay & Neuter Clinic (Small Dogs & Cats)

April 20th, Winterset, Spay & Neuter Clinic (Dogs & Cats)

April 25th, Dallas Center, Spay & Neuter Clinic (Dogs & Cats)

Why YOU Should Foster a Rescue Animal

All you need is love....

Along with tons of other rescues, A.P.E. relies solely on fosters to house our animals – though we take care of vetting and all logistics, we have no “main building” in which to put adoptable animals.  For this reason, our fosters are absolutely essential to the organization; we literally could not exist without them.  Most of the staff and volunteers here at A.P.E. are fosters, and there truly is no more rewarding experience.

We’re going to be honest with you here:  we need your help.  We need more of our amazing supporters to sign up to become fosters.  Within the past few weeks, we have become overloaded with animals in need, and we’ve found that we just don’t have enough fosters to help them all.  Unfortunately, A.P.E. has had to undergo an intake freeze, simply because we don’t have anywhere to put these animals that need us so badly.  We never know when emergencies may pop up, and we need more individuals that we can turn to when we’re in a bind.

We understand that fostering can seem daunting at first.  But the benefits of fostering far outweigh any drawbacks you may be able to think of, and many first-time fosters find themselves falling in love with fostering and end up doing it for the rest of their lives!  So here’s why YOU should sign up to foster today!


Fostering means the dog or cat doesn’t have to be in a shelter environment.  Being in a noisy shelter is incredibly stressful for an animal.  Not only are they scared in an unfamiliar place, there are strange sounds and smells all around them, and most of the time they’re behind bars.  Foster homes allow them to be in a comfortable home where they have regular human attention and a cozy place to sleep.  And, by fostering a shelter animal, you are essentially saving a life, as it frees up space in the shelter to bring in another animal.

Fostering increases an animal’s chances of being adopted.  Lots of animals don’t “show” well in a shelter environment.  Dogs not used to being behind bars may bark, jump, and act very anxious…but in a home environment, they are completely calm and relaxed.  Kitties may hiss and scratch when they’re in the shelter surrounded by other cats…but in a foster home, they could be totally loving and happy being an only cat.  When a potential adopter visits an animal that’s being fostered, chances are that the animal’s personality will come through a lot more than it would in a shelter.


Fostering allows an animal to become more socialized…which is absolutely necessary if they are going to get adopted out quickly.  The more socialized a dog or cat is, the better!  In a home, they are more likely to come into contact with children, strangers, and other animals and get used to being around them all.

Fostering helps the shelter/rescue organization learn more about an animal’s personality.  They may have had no idea that a certain dog seemed skittish around men, or that a cat has shown signs of being aggressive toward other cats.  Fosters help them learn such things, which help them find the perfect home for that animal’s needs.


Fostering is flexible and not a huge commitment.  You can choose what kind of animal you’d like to foster – newborn kittens?  Pregnant mamas?  Elderly dogs?  Special needs cats?  You decide what’s best for you and your home.  Unless you are a “fospice” (foster/hospice) home, fostering an animal is temporary, and the rescue organization covers costs and vet care.

Being a foster fail is actually an amazing thing!  “Foster fails” are those who have fallen head over heels for their foster dog or cat, so much so that they’ve decided to keep them!  It’s a win-win for all involved.

Fostering feels great!  You are saving a life and giving a crazy amount of love and care to an animal who may never have had that before – how could that possibly be a bad thing?!


All of the wonderful photos you see here feature A.P.E. animals that have benefited from being in a foster home environment.

Are you convinced yet?  Are you ready to become a foster?  Click this link to fill out our foster home application.  Trust us, you’ll fall in love with fostering!

Check out these helpful links:  PetSafe, Huffington Post, PetFinder Dog, PetFinder Cat



How to Help Stray and Feral Cats in Your Neighborhood

Outdoor cats can be found in just about every neighborhood in the country.  While farm cats are usually taken good care of, stray and feral cats are not…and their lives are usually difficult and short.  Fortunately, helping these kitties is pretty easy, and by taking these steps, you can help save lots of feline lives.

Stray cats are usually friendly and at least somewhat socialized.  The first thing you should do if you come across one of these unfamiliar kitties is contact your local authorities.  They will be able to tell you if anyone has filed a missing animal report for a cat matching its description.  It’s important to do this first, because someone just might be missing their beloved pet.


This is Twilight von Twinkle Toes.  She was not found as a stray, but isn’t she cute?!  This girl has an infection in her feet, causing them to not develop as they should have.

No owners to be found?  You can try to find the cat a home, contact local shelters to see if they have any suggestions, or take the cat in after having him examined by a vet.  If this is not an option, make sure the stray cat has food, water, and shelter.  In very hot weather, putting a bowl of water outside is an absolute necessity.  Providing shelter to an outside cat is pretty simple:  Do you have a shed or garage?  Maybe you could add a cat door to it to allow the cat inside when it’s too cold or warm.  Shelters can also be made out of boxes or plastic totes.

Once he has had a good meal, you’ll want to consider taking the cat to a veterinarian OR attending a low-cost spay/neuter/vaccine clinic in your area – check out A.P.E.’s program here!  They will check and see if the cat has a microchip – a sure sign that it has/had owners – vaccinate, and spay or neuter the cat.  In doing this, you are adding years to their life, cutting down on the chances of future health problems, and eliminating the chances for pregnancy.  Stray and feral cats are notorious for having litter after litter of kittens, many of whom probably will not survive for very long.


Miss Twinkle Toes will be available for adoption once she has healed a bit more.  If you are able to contribute to her medical funds, please click here!

Feral cats, on the other hand, are not socialized and often very afraid of humans.  They can be very hard to catch, and they are rarely able to be trained to live with humans, unless they are very young kittens.  It is best to not try to handle feral cats unless you have been trained to do so.  Rather than trying to fix a feral cat problem yourself, contact local organizations and rescues who will be able to help you.  Some places even have “barn programs” in place specifically for feral cats.  Turning feral cats in to a shelter is usually a death sentence, since most ferals are considered “unadoptable.”

Here at A.P.E., one of the main things we do is the TNR program, or Trap Neuter Return.  We set up live traps in areas that have an abundancy of feral cats, take the trapped kitties to our vet to have them spayed or neutered and vaccinated, and return them to their original location.  (When trying to trap a cat, we put food in the traps – this is why you should keep the cats you’re feeding on a schedule and take the food away when they’re not eating.  A hungry cat is easier to trap!)  With TNR, even though the cats are still living in the wild, we have prevented countless litters of kittens from being born.  Many well-meaning people put out food and water for these cats, but they don’t realize that unless the cats are fixed, they will eventually have too many hungry mouths to care for!  This is why TNR is so essential.  Feral cats who have been spayed or neutered will often have a notch in the tip of their ear – veterinarians do this so that you can tell which kitties in a feral colony have been fixed and which still need to be.

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Meet Storm.  Originally thought to be feral, Storm was caught in a trap after being spotted shivering outside someone’s house.  She has warmed up a lot and turned out to be very friendly!  However, Storm is very unhealthy – she has multiple wounds, irritated skin, and an infection…we also suspect that she might be pregnant.  :(  It will be a while until we can put Storm up for adoption; in the meantime, can you help us with her medical care?

Many people in the rescue community get creative with their shelters for feral cats.  Iowa winters can be brutal, and these poor kitties need a place to go during bad weather.  Below is an example of a homemade shelter – a simple Styrofoam cooler (available at Fleet Farm or pretty much any convenience store) duct-taped shut, with a hole cut in it large enough for a cat to get in, filled with straw.  You can do the same thing with boxes, plastic totes, or even a wooden cabinet.  Amazon also sells a small heated house that I have used myself for a stray cat that hangs out around our house – the kitty LOVES it during cold winters and sometimes doesn’t even want to leave it to eat.


There are some who think that relocating the cats will fix the problem – please don’t do this.  If you take the cats somewhere else, they may get hit by cars trying to find their way back; they might also find themselves in a different cat colony’s “territory”, which can cause problems and fights.  Not to mention, a new cat colony will without a doubt take its place, and you’ll just find yourself caring for a new group of cats.  It is best to just leave the cats where they are comfortable.

The most important thing to remember is ALWAYS have your cats spayed and neutered.  Don’t contribute to the problem.  If every cat-owner followed this rule, we would not have the huge amount of overpopulation that we do now.  For more information, please check out these helpful links:  PetFinder, WebMD, Humane Society.




5 Ways to Keep Your Dog Healthy and Safe in Winter Weather

5 ways

I’ve lived in Iowa my whole life, so I should be used to the frigid winters by now.  But for some reason, each time it rolls around, I am never quite prepared for the snow and cold.  The first few moments of a snowfall are always very pretty and peaceful, and it’s fun to step out into a glittering, white flurry of flakes the first day of the season.  But then the snow stays.  And stays and stays.  And along with the snow comes problems:  Shoveling.  The flu.  Icy roads.  But also painful paw pads, dry itchy skin, and changes in diet and grooming routines.  It can be tough for your dog to adjust to a new season, but you can help winter-proof your pet with these five tips.  (Here is a link to my original post, written in Nov. 2014 – tips have been updated)

1.  Protect those paws.  That frozen ground is painful for your dog’s sensitive paws!  Frostbite, ice melt irritation, and cracking/drying are just a few of the risks involved when your dog steps out into the snow.  Think ahead by buying some booties for your dog to wear outside, and be sure to wipe your pup’s paws thoroughly when they come inside.  You can also treat dry and cracked paws, nose, and skin with soothing balms.

2.  Update your dog’s wardrobe.  Besides the protective booties, think about dressing your dog in a warm coat or sweater when he goes outside.  Senior, underweight, or small dogs are particularly sensitive to cold weather.  A dog’s fur coat alone isn’t enough to protect them from bitter winds, especially if they spend a lot of time outside.

3.  Stay smart when outside.  Know your dog’s limits – if your teeth are chattering, chances are that your dog’s are too.  If you have an elderly or very young dog, consider keeping a pee pad inside for the very coldest of days.  Keep your walks short and brisk, and always watch your pup closely – more dogs go missing in the winter than any other time of year.  Don’t let your dog eat too much snow, since it can cause stomach upset in large amounts.  And whatever you do:  Keep your dog nice and dry!  A dog’s coat retains water, and once it’s wet it takes a very long time to dry; this is especially dangerous in the winter because of the risk of hypothermia.

4.  Winterize your dog’s grooming habits.  A longer fur length than usual can help protect against cold temperatures.  Embrace the shaggy! :)  Trim nails and groom paws more often to keep an eye out for irritated pads.  Be sure your dog is completely dry after bathing before taking him outside.  Also, consider your dog’s diet:  Since he will be spending more time indoors and most likely getting less exercise, adjust their food accordingly.  (Keep in mind:  There are many ways to exercise your dog that don’t involve going outside!  Think fetching games or “find-the-treat”!)

5.  Know the symptoms of winter-related illnesses.  Hypothermia, frostbite, ice melt irritation, and antifreeze poisoning are all things to watch out for during the winter season.  If your dog loves being outside in the winter, keep a close eye on him and look for violent shivering or lethargy – both signs of hypothermia.

Here are some great resources about winter-proofing your pets:


Association of Professional Dog Trainers

Cesar’s Way


Some breeds, like the Great Pyrenees (shown above) and Husky, absolutely love winter weather!  If they are having a great time in the snow, by all means…let them play!  However, keep an eye on them to make sure they aren’t exhibiting any symptoms of hypothermia, and always have water and a warm shelter available.  (Psst!  Are you looking to add a snow-loving Husky to your family?!  A.P.E. has a gorgeous female available for adoption.  Read more about her here!)


A.P.E. Shares Donation with South Hamilton Animal Alliance

A couple of weeks ago, we received a large donation with a request for us to help South Hamilton Animal Alliance (SHAA) in Jewell, Iowa. This organization is especially close to our heart because A.P.E.’s veterinarian, who has helped so many of our adoptable animals, runs the rescue.  We were able to sponsor their cats for the month, as well as The Iowa Animal Partnership (IAP) also sent supplies.  Included were necessities like paper towels, food, detergent, bleach, and hard wood fuel pellets, which are used for kitty litter – they are safe for the cats and cut down on odor.
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Please click this link to check out the cats A.P.E. is sponsoring, as well as more adoptable animals at SHAA.  A huge thank you goes out to our donors, without whom we would be unable to sponsor and aid other Iowa shelters and rescues!