top of page


"Dubuque needs a society of this kind very badly…for the protection of the dumb brutes and the punishment of the human brutes!" an article read in the Dubuque Daily Herald on February 24, 1882.

On April 11, 1901, The Dubuque Benevolent and Humane Society was founded to protect the rights of animals, primarily horses, as well as children. An office was set up in what is now known as the Fischer Building and money was raised through annual dues of $1 - $10, with a lifetime membership costing $25.

From its earliest days, public education was a key element of the Humane Society's work. The city even designated a member of the police force to act as the humane officer, enforcing anti-cruelty laws. In 1904, the Humane Society joined with the local board of education to hire and pay the first full-time employee – a combined truant and humane officer. The humane officer became the alternative to the city dogcatcher and calls quickly began to increase. This lead to the establishment of a small animal shelter located at 2228 Jackson Street. This arrangement lasted until the mid-1930s, when long time humane officer Charles Arendt retired and the Humane Society moved to seven acres of land outside the city limits in Center Grove Township. By the 1950s, after several years of continued improvements, the Humane Society had developed the shelter into what was considered at the time to be a state-of-the-art humane facility.

Volunteers Barb Ellsworth, John Perrenoud, Dale Repass and Dr. James Stark organized the recruitment of a wide variety of community members to form a new and more active board of directors. The board determined that a coordinator was needed to oversee the shelter and its expansion and hired Jane McCall as the first executive director. She immediately began developing ideas and long-range plans for the shelter. The board realized these plans could never be accomplished at the current facility. In October 1992, the Humane Society moved to 175 North Crescent Ridge where a new facility, almost triple the size of the old, was built to accommodate anticipated growth. In 1997, the Humane Society was chosen as one of the top six humane operations in the country.

After many years in the making, the Dubuque Regional Humane Society (DRHS) moved into Kinsey’s Campus on October 24, 2013, named in memory of a wonderful, talented and loving Golden Retriever. Thanks to the vision of the staff and the Board of Directors, today's Humane Society is more regional and national in its scope than at any time in its history. A dedicated staff of 25 individuals operate the shelter, open to the public 6 days a week, and provide a myriad of services. Through regular community outreach programs, including regular spots on local radio and TV, the adoption program is running at record levels while annual fundraisers like "Strut Your Mutt," "In the Doghouse," and the "Tails at Twilight" fall gala have created positive awareness to the Humane Society's mission. Though the times changed, the human-animal bond will always remain, and as long as there are animals in need, the Dubuque Regional Humane Society will be there.

bottom of page