MASON CITY, Iowa — A psychologist is returning home to northern Iowa to pursue her lifetime goal of operating an animal sanctuary in honor of her mother.

Judy Siems started the Glady Mae Animal Sanctuary near Mason City and Burchinal, the Globe Gazette reported . The nonprofit incorporated in 2014 and will give a safe home to cats and dogs at risk of euthanasia, she said.

“I’ve wanted to do this since I was 6 years old,” Siems said. “Well, 60 years later, I’m doing it.”

Siems said she promised her mother before she died that she would open the animal sanctuary.

“I’m a trained psychologist, and she said, ‘That’s all fine well and good but why aren’t you working with animals? That’s who you are,'” Siems said. “I’d never thought about it that way.”

Siems considered building the facility in Minnesota where she has lived for 45 years, but realized the perfect place was in her childhood hometown.

“It donned on me one day, this doesn’t belong in Minnesota,” she said. “This belongs somewhere in Cerro Gordo County.”

Siems bought the 10-acre (4-hectare) property in June. The organization is repairing four barns on the property to build kennels, runs and a play area. Siems also hopes to build a small medical building for an on-site veterinarian.

“This sanctuary is really about quality of life for these animals,” Siems said.

The shelter will also be a place where domestic abuse victims can place their pets temporarily if they can’t bring them to a shelter or safe house, she said.

“When they’ve found housing, they can come back and pick them up,” Siems said. “We’ll take great care of them.”

Siems said she hopes to care for all types of pets regardless of health and age.

Information from: Globe Gazette,

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