I met Tonya Millard for the first time today. She's the Executive Director for the Dubuque Regional Humane Society.

She took over right before the pandemic started so she said she feels like she's just now reaching her stride with the shelter after a long first year.

I immediately took inventory in the studio. Emily is a dog person. We have cats. Tonya says she has both so you can tell that she's the right fit for the position she holds.

We talked a bit about how the pandemic affected the Humane Society and Tonya mentioned that even though they were closed to the public for two months, they never actually saw a downtick to their adoptions. The staff continued to care for the animals during their closure, and when the facility reopened they operated by 'appointment only.'

Tonya mentioned that since they keep their website up to date with all the current animals available for adoption, people were consistently checking back to see what was available. I speculated that since most people were home during the pandemic, it gave them an opportunity to incorporate an animal into their family. Tonya said while other cities have seen an abundance of people returning their animals to their local shelters as they head back to work, Dubuque has not seen that at all.

As for 'Adopt a Cat' month, Tonya said the Humane Society has been promoting their supply hard as they currently house about 150 cats and kittens. The Humane Society uses a number of foster families that care for the mama cats and their kittens until they reach a certain age. Foster families are provided with everything they need for the care of the cats until they are big enough to go back to the shelter for adoption.

I asked her how many people fall in love with the kittens and decide to keep them. She says jokingly that they refer to that as a "foster fail," and it does happen from time to time. Tonya said they also look for foster families for puppies and special needs pets, too.

Lola (deceased) and Rico, a few of the Farber family cats
Lola (deceased) and Rico, a few of the Farber family cats

This Friday, July 2nd, the Dubuque Regional Humane Society will be hosting their Christmas in July event from noon until 4pm. They'll have doggy pools, sprinklers, misting tents, squirt guns and water games for all to enjoy with their furry friends.

If you'd like to attend you can visit the Humane Society WEBSITE to preregister. The cost is just a $10 donation to the Humane Society, which will go to the care of all the pets there. (Tonya said there might even be a visit from the jolly guy in red Bermuda shorts during the event!)

The Humane Society will also be hosting their Tails at Twilight event in September at the Grand River Center and sponsorships are available now. If you'd like to learn more you can visit their website or call Tonya directly at 563-584-1925 for more information. You can also call the shelter for info at 563-582-6766.

As for other ways you can help, Tonya says that if you can always help sponsor adoptions. Even if you don't have room for an animal, your donation can make it possible for someone else to give a cat or dog a forever home.

The Dubuque Regional Humane Society also features their 'pet pantry.' If things have changed for you and it's suddenly a struggle to care for your pet, they can help with some dog or cat food, or other items needed to care for your animal.

There are a lot of cool things happening at the Humane Society. Do what you can to help support the animals in the Tristates!

~Chris Farber

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