Mary Ann Morris Animal Society (M.A.M.A.S.) is a private 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2001 by a small group of local residents concerned about animal welfare in Bamberg County, SC. At that time, there was no animal shelter in Bamberg County to provide refuge and care for the stray dogs. Our namesake, Mary Ann Morris, dedicated much of her life to helping animals in our community and inspired the creation of the M.A.M.A.S. shelter, along with our ongoing commitment to carry on this important work. Though Mary Ann has since passed, Gail, her daughter, remains on our board as a key supporter of M.A.M.A.S. and the shelter.
Even today, there is no official county shelter. The M.A.M.A.S. shelter fulfills the unofficial role of the animal shelter for Bamberg County. No dog that comes to the M.A.M.A.S. shelter from Bamberg County is turned away, and we charge no surrender fee. As of now, our county does not have an animal control officer to look out for the welfare of our animal residents.
The shelter opened by M.A.M.A.S. started out with very humble roots, but we have come a long way since 2001. The shelter started out with only a small portable office building and perimeter fencing. Gradual improvements and additions have increased our capabilities. The first addition was the original kennels. Next, the county was able to donate a repurposed single wide mobile home that was formerly used as part of the prison system. We have grown substantially but still have a long way to go. The original office building now houses our laundry and quarantine rooms. This building also functions as additional space to shelter the dogs during inclement weather. The single wide trailer has become our puppy building to protect our tiny pups that need special care. Our current office and intake building was donated by the school system when the new elementary school was built in 2012.
While our physical growth is commendable, we are more proud of who we are, and what we do. The Mary Ann Morris Animal Society is now a two part operation: The M.A.M.A.S. shelter, which functions as the shelter for Bamberg County dogs, and Safe Haven Puppy Rescue (S.H.P.R.), which is our rescue and adoption arm. When we are able, we reach out to kill shelters outside our county to rescue adoptable dogs to free up space in their facilities. This allows additional time for the dogs at the other facility to be rescued as well. Most importantly, Mary Ann Morris Animal Society’s shelter has become a NO-KILL facility. In our area, this is pretty miraculous. In 2019, we achieved an outstanding overall save rate of over 97% of dogs taken in under our care. Our goal at the shelter is to continue to provide a happy and welcoming environment for the dogs in need until we can send them along to a better life.
Dog overpopulation is a huge problem, especially in our area. We try our best to educate all those who will listen of the importance of spaying/neutering animals and have facilitated grant funding for our community to assist with this cost. Each month, we host a low cost mobile spay/neuter clinic. We lobby for measures that will promote RESPONSIBLE pet ownership. We only have about 12-15 local adoptions a year. Without local outreach opportunities, there are no avenues to set up off-site adoptions to promote our dogs. We had to find other ways to offer our dogs a chance for a better life. The facility remains modest because our focus is helping more dogs instead of a fancy facility.
Sadly, it is common to see dogs traveling the roads, starving, hairless, and looking for food and shelter. To help save as many dogs as possible, we utilize our Safe Haven Puppy Rescue arm to send dogs up the Atlantic Coast to our rescue partners and private adopters using our all-volunteer transport system. By developing relationships with our rescues partners to the north and developing a reasonable, yet responsible, adoption process, it has allowed M.A.M.A.S. to send thousands of dogs on to their forever homes. These relationships have also enabled us to lend a hand to several neighboring kill shelters.
Bamberg County is only able to provide the shelter $29,000 annually, which is less than one tenth of M.A.M.A.S. yearly operating costs. Adoption fees from the S.H.P.R. side help to bridge the gap between the county provided funds and the operating costs of the M.A.M.A.S. shelter. Also assisting is the large community of M.A.M.A.S. supporters that provide invaluable donations. Without these generous donors, we would not be the little shelter that could.
M.A.M.A.S. fights for every animal. We take in a number of lost and broken souls and help fix them emotionally and physically. This is what makes Mary Ann Morris Animal Society a unique “hybrid” shelter/rescue. Surgeries are performed to correct broken limbs. Dogs with mange or horribly infected skin conditions are treated and cured. Puppies are treated for parvo with a VERY high survival rate. Starved dogs are brought back to health. Injured dogs are treated. All dogs are given the time, love and attention needed to heal, emotionally and physically. The objective of M.A.M.A.S./S.H.P.R. is to do everything possible to ensure that once a dog leaves the shelter, he or she will have the best possible chance for a great life. M.A.M.A.S. is fully committed to saving lives and helping those who have fallen in the cracks.
We are proud of what M.A.M.A.S. has become and continue to strive to do even better. Our goals are to increase awareness, promote responsible pet ownership, encourage spaying/neutering, and make M.A.M.A.S. the best that it can be. We will continue to push forward to provide a safe, comfortable environment for our residents and give a helping hand to those who need it while transitioning them to the next phase in their life, a loving home. Please join us in achieving our vision. Together, we can make a difference!