9 Who Care: Veterinarian uses a lifetime of experience, passion to heal shelter animals

AMANA COLONIES, Iowa (KCRG) - Her whole life, Dr. Barbara Roland has loved animals. That love inspired her career path. Since getting her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1987, Roland has treated animals, most recently at the Newton Animal Clinic.

Dr. Barbara Roland examines a stray cat at the Safe Haven of Iowa County in an undated photo. (Jackie Kennon/KCRG)

Now that Roland is semi-retired, she continues to save animals' lives by using her knowledge and skills as a veterinarian at Safe Haven of Iowa County. It’s a no-kill shelter that serves not only local strays but animals from around the country.

Its mission is to, “rescue, protect, rehabilitate and find good homes for dogs and cats in Iowa County. Secondly, to significantly reduce the overpopulation of stray dogs and cats, and improve the lives of humans and the lives of pets through public education and sponsoring low/no-cost spay and neuter programs.”

Roland’s home has always been the Amana Colonies. That's also where the Safe Haven of Iowa County is, housed in the former Krauss furniture building. Built in 1956 by Roland's relatives, Virginia Marie Hoppe donated the building to the animal rescue in 2012 after the family furniture store closed down.

“I know they're all smiling down in heaven at the work we are doing here because our family has always loved animals,” Roland said, with a smile. “Especially Virginia, this would make her so happy.”

In the past couple of years, the Safe Haven of Iowa County added a surgery suite, where Roland's services have helped thousands of animals. She volunteers her time and talents to complete surgery on the rescue animals, all for free.

“She's not just a regular vet either, she's a skilled surgeon,” Kimberly Buresh, 15-year volunteer and board president, said. “Since we've had our surgery suite, and have our volunteer vet here, our adoptions have doubled, especially with the cats, because we're able to get them in, spayed, neutered, so much quicker because we can do that in house.”

Buresh said it normally costs around $100 for a spay or neuter procedure, and scheduling is up to other clinics. As more healthy animals get adopted, that frees up space to take in more strays. The shelter can also take on more complicated health cases.

Freddy the cat, at the time of KCRG-TV9’s visit, went from near-death to happy and healthy in just days from Roland’s care.

He's just one of the countless other animals, helped by Roland, living out her life's dream to help animals, even, without the promise of a paycheck.

“I'm glad we were able to save his life," Roland said.