An animal shelter has been part of the Redwood area for years.

However, the community took a big step up in 2012 when it opened the new Duke Memorial Redwood Area Animal Shelter.

“We are a private shelter,” said Myria Castle, who serves as the manager for the local animal shelter.

The shelter is focused on promoting “empathy and concern for lost and homeless animals through education, advocacy and shelter until those animals can be returned to their home or find a new forever home.”

For Castle, being part of the animal shelter made a lot of sense.

“My sister-in-law told me about the opening,” said Castle, who said she has always had a passion for animals and their care.

The shelter, which serves the Redwood and Renville counties area, is truly a community supported facility, as the land it sits on was donated by the Ken Keil family, and the Duke Memorial name comes from a huge financial supporter, David Geis and his dog Duke.

“We are a non-profit shelter,” said Castle, adding it also serves as a no kill shelter that takes in strays and surrenders.

Only dogs and cats are served at the local animal shelter.

Castle said the days at the shelter can be a lot of fun, as one is able to work with the animals, but every once in a while a hard case comes in where an animal has been abandoned, was hit by a car or comes in with signs of neglect. Not every animal that comes to the shelter stays at the shelter.

“We have to be able to handle them,” said Castle, adding pets that are deemed not adoptable can’t be accepted by the shelter.

The shelter is open Monday through Friday from 2-6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until noon. 

Castle said the shelter is operated by a number of volunteers, but, she added, there is always room for more people who want to help. That help could mean doing anything from just holding and petting one of the cats to taking a dog outside for some exercise.

“Everyone who works here has a passion for what they do,” said Castle.

The animals who enter the shelter are given names, and Castle said the fee for people to adopt those animals varies. Prospective adoptive families are required to fill out an application, and in some cases the application is approved with the animal going home the same day.

In other cases, there may be a need to do additional follow up and check references.

“We have turned people down,” she said. “We will hold on to an animal until we feel we have found the best home possible.”

Donations to help the facility operate, whether that be financial or items such as food or toys, are always welcome, said Castle.

Tours of the site are also available.

To learn more about paying the animal shelter a visit, one may call (507) 644-3853 (DUKE).

The animal shelter also raises funds during the year, and it is hosting its annual garage sale May 8-10.

Learn more about the shelter and available animals on its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thefriendsoftheanimalshelter.