MAMAS board member responds to complaints

The Mary Ann Morris Animal Shelter (MAMAS) “does not warehouse or release dogs” according to original board member and agency secretary Emily Guess of Denmark. Guess responding to articles in the June 23 edition of the Times and Democrat newspaper and the June 29, edition of The Advertizer Herald Newspaper on the June meeting of Bamberg County Council, where council members voted to move $25,000 originally budgeted for the shelter into a contingency fund, until they could talk with shelter officials “about their ability and capacity to deal with the county’s stray animal problem.”

“Our response to Bamberg County Council and we’ve explained repeatedly, we do not warehouse or release dogs,” Guess said. She noted that the agency adopts “at least” 500 dogs a year up north. And most of the dogs are sent out of the county. “Where they (County Council) have an idea we have ever turned a dog loose or warehoused dogs is incorrect information,” Guess said.

Guess said the Humane Society came out recently and did an inspection of MAMAS and found “no complaints.” She noted there was a complaint about an employee that had some dogs at his house, but not at the shelter. She noted the Humane Society was “helpful” in identifying some additional sources of funding for the shelter.

Guess, who said she was raised from an early age to help take care of people and animals that could not take care of themselves, said she thinks the county needs an animal control officer. But she said she thought it was “ridiculous” to think an animal control officer could be hired for $25,000 to round up dogs. “The employee benefits would be much more than $25,000,” she said, adding “they are fooling themselves if they think the $25,000 they give us will cover animal control in this county.”

Guess noted that when the shelter was “completely broke” she used her own money to buy supplies. And her husband regularly hitches up his trailer, puts gas in his truck and goes to Pedigree in Columbia for donated dog food each month.

“And then they say ugly things about us in the paper. I cried, we work so hard, and we’re treated like people who are not doing what we’re supposed to do. I care about this county, which really hurt for people to think I would mistreat any animal. I wish they would come walk in our shoes,” Guess said noting, she could recall only one visit from a member of County Council to the animal shelter.

Guess said the animal control problem in the county really comes down to a matter of personal responsibility. “People in this county need to learn to be responsible for their animals.”

She noted that MAMAS has tried to get the word out that they have received a grant for the last few years to offer a free program to have animals spaded and neutered, but citizens do not take advantage of the program. “We have to beat the bushes to find people to use that money. We have to beg people to do this. If you have a dog, we will spay or neuter that dog.”