1987: Friends and neighbors concerned about the plight of stray cats and dogs, organized and began to act as a group to help homeless pets. They worked to care for and find homes for many stray dogs and cats. In 1987 this group became incorporated as the Humane Society of Northwest Iowa. ​

1996: ​After nearly 10 years of temporarily caring for pets in their homes, this group raised the money and with a matching grant of $100,000 from Andrea and Norman Waitt Jr., a building to house the homeless was completed. It was named for the Waitt’s dog, Chelsea, and may be correctly called the Chelsea Dog Shelter. It housed a bright reception area, shelter office, 28 dog kennels - 14 with outside runs, impound kennels, a crematorium, 4 “meet & greet” rooms, a pet care administration area, and staff lounge.

1999: Anne Thorne Weaver donated $100,000 to build a large addition on the shelter’s west end. Today, it houses the “Weaver Cattery”. Around 110 cats and kittens temporarily call it home.1st year of Jam for the Animals - an outdoor music festival that raised money to support the shelter. The annual event ran for 9 years, featured over 50 area musicians, and raised over $50,000.

2008: Community Outreach was begun as a program to give back to the community while fulfilling the shelter’s mission statement. More than 450 times the Outreach van has brought pets to visit care facilities providing interactive pet therapy.

2005: changed adoption policy to include spay & neuter of every pet, up-to-date vaccinations, including rabies, and micro-chip


2002: Bob & Genie Reed and many of their friends organized what came to be known as “A Taste of Italy.” As one of the HSNWIA’s most popular fundraisers, it raised over $149,000 during its 8 year run, while providing a wonderful evening of great wine, fine cuisine, and warm friendship.

2011: After operating as a no kill shelter for 7 years, the HSNWIA was officially designated a no kill shelter.

2013: Iowa Great Lakes Winter Games Bingo was begun as a fun event to raise funds for HSNWIA on the busiest local winter weekend. It has raised over $35,000 to date.


2020: surgery suite was installed on premises & a veterinarian out of Omaha started volunteering one day a month to spay/neuter cats and help out with any other medical needs.​

About the director

To quote the words of a much smarter person than I. “A meaningful introduction rests on the importance of those making the introduction” (Feel free to call or come and see me if you are interested in the origins of this statement). So, I must first thank the Board and Staff of the HSNWIA for allowing me to serve alongside them as we seek to better the lives of both animals and those with the willing hearts to care for them in the best possible way. 

My name is Travis Hayenga (AKA), Mr. Travis to the students I have worked with for going on a decade now. While this was a name affectionately given out of necessity as very few could pronounce my last name, it stuck and I kinda like it! As the new director, I hope to continue the rich legacy of those who have come before me and have paved the way for this much needed service in our communities. Given that I personally believe a smile and kind word to be the best form of introduction, I hope to spend some time with each of you as we collectively pull together in the mission of bringing Furry friends to their Furr-ever homes.  If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me at directorhsnwia@gmail.com.

 -Mr. Travis



PRESIDENT - Melanie Becker 

Vice PrESIDENT - Kara Rice

SECRETARY - Robin Lock

TREASURER - Karen Fergen

Bill Kallsen

Laura Kabele

Zach Stewart

Marcy Bosch

Feel free to contact our board at hsnwia.board@gmail.com