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Success threatens M.A.M.A.S. Animal Shelter Print E-mail

Most businesses would be green with envy at the year MAMAS had in 2010. It was up about 70 percent in placing dogs over 2009. About 500 dogs found good homes this year which is more than any other year since its founding. But there is a downside, most businesses make a profit on every `sale’. Unfortunately for MAMAS, it loses money on every pup rescued from hunger, harm, and hurt. This means the more success it has, the financial condition just gets worse.

Bonnie Milliken, Treasurer for MAMAS, explained, “We depend on community support to make up the difference between what we receive from adoption fees and the costs of running the shelter.” The problem this year, Milliken continued, is, “Our intakes have increased significantly. More dogs mean more expense, and outside support isn’t keeping up, especially in Bamberg County.” Joey Guess, MAMAS's Board President, pointed out that the bulk of the funding comes from outside Bamberg County, and that imbalance has grown significantly worse this year. Without a financial shot in the arm from the community they serve, the existence of the shelter is in serious jeopardy.

MAMA's board member Emily Guess says that Bamberg County receives a grant funded by 'Bob Barker' to spay and neuter animals, but very few people take advantage of it.

"Even though Bamberg County is a poor county, I think it can do better when it comes to helping MAMAS," said Guess.

As you look at the shelter, located four miles south of Bamberg in a field behind a ball diamond, you know it is not spending money on fancy facilities. Pens and cages are very plain and Spartan. The office wouldn’t exactly be the sort of place most people would aspire to work in. When the weather’s cold, like now, people jostle with dogs who need warmth. It is pretty chaotic. Ruthie Rish, longtime volunteer and board member, sighs as she surveys the scene. Although she’s been busy cleaning up assorted messes, it’s obvious she has a way to go.

Currently there are about 80 dogs and puppies on the grounds, more than they would like to have, but a small percentage of the 525 dogs or so found “forever homes”, as they like to put it. Rish was proud to note that almost every dog that came in this year has been placed. “We only have a couple of what we call `mascots’." Drop, one of the mascots, is a tri-colored hound, maybe five or six years old, and a frequent resident in the office. Drop is quiet, slowly wagging her tail, hoping that this is the year she will be adopted.

Probably looking at the results for MAMAS, it is one of the most successful shelters in South Carolina even though many shelters have far more money. MAMAS never euthanizes a dog except in extreme cases of suffering or because an animal is dangerous and threatening.

Rish, looking around, went on, “Although we save dogs, people win too. Every dog who gets a home is a companion to a family. You wouldn’t believe the stories of joy we’ve heard from our adopters.” Looking a bit wistful, she said it would be a shame if this all came to an end.

MAMAS is now in the midst of its annual fundraising drive. They invite folks to visit or call the shelter for more information. As Milliken made plain, without more support – funds, supplies, volunteers – there’s a lot of dogs and people who won’t find the happiness they’d otherwise deserve. MAMAS is hoping the residents of Bamberg County will rally for the sake of the survival of the shelter so homeless dogs have a second chance for life, and the citizens of the county will continue to benefit from the service the shelter provides.

For more information, call 245-7387 or if you would like to make a donation to M.A.M.A.S send it to P.O. Box 1157, Bamberg, S.C. 29003.

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