Animal related

The Mesabi Humane Society

Opt to Adopt

aka Mesabi Humane Society

Virginia, MN


Our mission is to promote humane animal treatment through sheltering, alteration, adoption, and community education.

Ruling Year


Shelter Manager/Director

Mary Stocco

Main Address

2305 Southern Drive

Virginia, MN 55792 USA


Animal advocacy, cat and dog rescue, pet adoption





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Animal Protection and Welfare (includes Humane Societies and SPCAs) (D20)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

Two shelters in nearby communities have closed for lack of funding. Our county/city contracts cover only 37% of our operating costs; thus our primary goal is to ensure our financial sustainability, with a longer term goal of building a new, larger shelter. 2018 marked our 40th anniversary, and our building (30 years old) shows its age and needs considerable improvement. Between now and the day we build an entirely new shelter, we need to make significant improvements to our current building. We provide animal control services for an area of 6860 square miles in St Louis County, MN. Much of this area is rural and we deal with many hoarding situations. Most recently, we recovered 120 cats from a single hoarding home and barn. Even with foster support, this stretches our facility and resources beyond capacity at times. As the only local shelter that does not refuse animals due to age or physical condition, our veterinary costs are a huge part of our budget - and not easily predicted.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Animal Control

Spay/Neuter Transport for the Public

Partnership with MN SNAP

Where we work

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

Since we don't turn away animals for age or health issues, as do most animal shelters that claim to be "no kill," we are truly a rescue organization. We provide medical/S/N/vaccination services, love, and attention for the dogs and cats in our care and, in most cases, we are able to socialize feral cats, so that they move to loving forever homes. We are trying to educate those in our towns and rural areas about the value of spay/neuter/vaccination. This includes providing transportation to low-cost S/N facilities for local pet owners and sponsoring the MN SNAP truck, so that low-income pet owners can have their animals spayed and neutered and vaccinated at our shelter. We also hope to reduce the number of birth defects and other issues caused by inbreeding through our school education programs incorporating a new board game we have created called Opt to Adopt. We also want to develop additional educational materials for school programs and visitors/students who come to the shelter.

1 New programs/products/partnerships to expand visibility, memberships, & lower costs In addition to our traditional events & fundraising activities, we are adding new activities & products, including a 2019 Cat and Dog calendar and playing card deck with winning pet photos. We are developing "Opt to Adopt," an educational shelter board game. Mesabi Humane Society Week in April had one-two events daily, including concerts, dinner, Shred-it-Truck, mobile adoption, volunteer appreciation breakfast, etc. We are getting more written and TV press to raise awareness. 2 Improved website Families who adopt our animals come from as far as 200 miles - often after a friend brings us an animal other shelters have refused, or they see their perfect family addition on our website. We need to change our website platform to incorporate additional, needed features. 3 Board development-to build skills for now and the future. 4 Shelter remodel to improve the facility for our cats, dogs, and staff.

1 Our shelter staff are extremely resourceful in stretching dollars to care for our cats and dogs. Mary, who heads the shelter continues to build partnerships with local businesses, pet supply companies, & local governments. One board member is an experienced game and learning tool developer and is leading our design team to develop Opt to Adopt, a family board game designed to educate students, parents, & families about cats/dogs & their care, volunteering, shelters, etc. 2 A local company provides web support and will rebuild our website on an improved platform Improved website 3 We have current & prior board members who are experienced facilitators and knowledgeable about human resources; some run their own businesses and can help develop new board members 4 Shelter remodel efforts are supported by local members & volunteers; some commercial organizations have reduced their fees to help us.

1 Tracking income on events and products and lowered expenses for veterinary services we will provide a clear measure. In the same way, we can evaluate how membership numbers and the number of individuals who volunteer at the shelter increase. Our goal for the board game is as a long-term shelter source of revenue - for us and for other animal shelters in the country. 2 Improved website We can track visitors, length of stay, & pages most used; feedback from members, volunteers and students Board development We strive to be an exceptional board that works well together and where all board members contribute their time, ideas, and energy. As part of in a small community, as our reputation grows we will have individuals asking to join the board. Shelter remodel This is probably the most easily visible. We are now developing plans to prioritize and design those projects; they will depend on our ability to obtain grants and outside funding.

The shelter began partnering with a new vet tech program an hour from our site. In 2018 the program provided medical exams, behavior analysis, microchips & vaccinations & will begin spay/neuter surgeries in 2019. Although the program doesn't operate in the summer, it is a wonderful resource. Our calendar contest has ended; the card decks are manufactured & the calendars are ordered. Opt to Adopt, nearing completion, has gone through preliminary beta testing. Next we will look for financial, distribution, & retail partners so we can manufacture the game and provide it at low cost to other shelters for their own use in education/fundraising. Our website was redone in 2017 by college students for class credit. Next will be improvements. An external facilitator has volunteered to work with the board Dog kennels were sealed to better protect the animals in winter; ventilation system was improved. Next we need to revamp the entry/front office & provide seating for our human visitors.

External Reviews


The Mesabi Humane Society

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FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2018, 2017 and 2016
  • A Pro report is also available for this organization.

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Need more info?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2018, 2017 and 2016
  • A Pro report is also available for this organization.

See what's included

Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Not Applicable


Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Not Applicable


Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Not Applicable


Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Not Applicable


Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?

Not Applicable