Dedicated volunteers charted the course, held on over bumpy paths and today we continue to provide services and programs that promote the humane treatment of animals in the Siouxland area. In response to a changing community and culture the Siouxland Humane Society focuses not only on the thousands of pets that we care for each year, but we also serve the people of Siouxland through our many programs and services as well.
The initial formation of the Siouxland Humane Society can be credited to a group of “Sioux City’s leading citizens” who, in 1889, became interested in a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals which had been formed in in St. Paul Minnesota. Alex Johnson arrived in Sioux City shortly after his organizational work with the St. Paul group. Johnson, who made his home in Morningside, addressed the interested Sioux City citizens on October 23, 1889. Sioux City Journal accounts that among those attending the meeting were Geo. D. Perkins, founder and editor of the Journal, who spoke in support of the formation of the Society and John C. Kelly, founder of the Sioux City Tribune, who echoed the sentiments of Mr. Perkins.
At their first meetings the Society named 26 members to their Board of Directors and elected Miss Susanna Weare president. The Society adopted a constitution, gave itself a name, the Sioux City Humane Society and its “objects” in Article II of its constitution as follows:
“Its objects shall be to secure the enforcement of existing law for the prevention of cruelty and
enactment of other laws as may be necessary for the the promotion of humane sentiments and
practices in the city and elsewhere.”
The initial Sioux City Humane Society disbanded around 1920 because of lack of interest and two years later was reorganized. The same report explains that “Old-timers recall that the city dog pound in those days was nothing more than a big cage on the river front where dogs were thrown in and left to fend for themselves and fight for the bones and scraps thrown to them. The first Humane Society animal shelter built to alleviate this condition also was located on the riverfront.”
Reorganization of Sioux City’s Humane Society took place in 1922 during the administration of Mayor Wallace M. Short. The Sioux City Woman’s Club decided to join the effort with the observance of “Humane Week” in Sioux City. Mrs. M.W. Baldwin, committee chairman and a name to soon become synonymous with Humane Society work in Sioux City, “enlisted animal lovers in a project of promoting humane education throughout the community….” When the project met with success, plans were formulated for the organization of a permanent humane society. During the first week 52 people registered to aid in the movement.
In 1922 the members of the Society met at the Elks Club and elected officers and named Mrs. Baldwin city humane officer (without pay). They held several tag and pencil days and rummage sales to obtain money for a satisfactory shelter. Public spirited citizens contributed funds and the city donated $1,000 toward the project. In 1925, the first shelter was built by Commer & Small along the Floyd River at 1926 Sixth Street at a cost of $6,500.00. It was complete with offices, clubrooms and outdoor yards for the animals. Mrs. Baldwin would later become the paid manager of the Society’s Shelter at the new location. The city turned over the task of caring for stray pets to the Society in 1925 and gave the Society a percentage of receipts from dog licenses for its work.
In 1936, flooding did considerable damage to the Sixth Street Shelter necessitating cleanup and repair with assistance of WPA workers. Animals at the shelter during the flooding were sent to the homes of members for temporary shelter. Due to dikes being built on the river, the Humane Society was relocated in 1937 to a building at 2200 Seventh Street. Another flood, this time in 1944, also caused additional work and concerns for the Seventh Street Shelter. This shelter was torn down due to an urban renewal project and the shelter again relocated to 1665 18th Street in 1965. For over 30 years, the Siouxland Humane Society remained on 18th Street and continued its mission of providing services and programs that promote the humane treatment of animals in the Siouxland area.
In 1999, after a 3 year capital campaign drive, a new 10,000 square foot state of the art facility was constructed at the present location at 1015 Tri-View Avenue. In 2013 an addition was added with much needed program and service space. The most obvious growth is the ever expanding programs and services that serve both the people and homeless pets in the Siouxland area. Through our proactive humane education and expanded spay/neuter assistance programs, we have begun to see the number of pets we care for begin to decrease, but our work is far from over. Other areas of growth include the SHS’s programs and services designed to address why pets end up in shelters, including spay/neuter assistance, humane education and programs for veterinary, food and sheltering assistance. Besides the thousands of pets that SHS cares for each year, the SHS also serves the people of Siouxland through its many programs and services.