Swainsboro/Emanuel County Betty Gambrell Animal Shelter and the Emanuel County Humane Society


Many folks in our community are confused as to the difference in our Swainsboro Betty Gambrell Animal Shelter and our Emanuel County Humane Society. Let me try to explain the different organizations.

Mrs. Betty Gambrell organized the Animal Shelter in the 1970’s with assistance from the city and county. The city and county contribute to the funding and maintenance of this shelter, located at 343 Market Street in Swainsboro. This is where stray and surrendered dogs are kept for up to 90 days or so. The Animal Shelter is overseen by Police Chief Randy Ellison, and a staff at the shelter of three full-time and one part-time salaried or hourly people. The city has a budget, coming out of our general funds. If they do not spend all the allocated money, it returns to the general fund each year.

You may have seen the article in February 1, 2023 Crossroads Chronicle, on the front page, which gave examples of many large items this budget provided, such as salaries, insurance, electricity, water, maintenance, veterinary expenses, as told to Deana Ryan by city financial officer Ooi. Did you notice there is no budget for dog food? Yes, the Animal Shelter has not budgeted for dog food…not since I’ve seen the city budget back to 2015! They rely on donations from the public and businesses for food for these dogs.

The Animal Shelter, as explained to us by the State Animal Control Inspector, exists for public safety. They are charged with keeping dangerous and/or stray dogs off the streets, thereby keeping our communities safe. That’s it. That’s what they are charged to do. To help facilitate this, they offer adoptions of dogs that are not claimed within a week or so. They also try to empty the shelter by offering dogs to various rescues around the state and region. This helps keep the shelter somewhat manageable. Also, every dog that is adopted or rescued is altered so that they cannot reproduce. We have such a huge problem in our community with dogs that are illegally left to roam the streets (yes, we have a leash law in the city) and are not altered and will definitely make more dogs. The Shelter has a huge task, as they take in approximately 70-100 dogs per month, or sometimes more than that. The paperwork and cleaning tasks are staggering!

So, now to the Emanuel County Humane Society! We reformed in 2015, we are registered with the State of Georgia, and our mission is to provide support for care, rescue and services to animals in crisis, to educate our community about responsible pet ownership, to promote spay and neutering of pets, and to shape public opinion to prevent animal cruelty.

We are a 501©3, which means we are a non-profit organization. We are funded solely through membership dues, donations and grants from our community. We have no building, which means we meet at a public building for our monthly Board meetings. We are a stand-alone organization, which has a Board of Directors who make decisions for the group.

We have sponsored and organized Barkfests, Paws With Claus every Christmas, and too many “free” (sponsored) adoptions to be counted. We sponsored (paid for) over 100 adoptions in 2022 alone! We’ve been in Parades, at Pine Tree Festivals, and Trunk or Treats at TSC. We have participated in Farm Day, sponsored by the Emanuel County Extension/4H Club, for many years, which brings the Primary School children together to experience where their food comes from. We have gone into the schools and public library to educate our children about responsible pet ownership with puppet plays, activities and free take-home books.

We actively work with our Animal Shelter. The Humane Society provides EVERY dog entering the Animal Shelter with 5-in-1 vaccinations, to keep the animals safe and healthy. This also makes it easier for rescues to pull dogs, knowing they’ve had their shots. We also provide the syringes used for this task. We have also sponsored heartworm tests and more needed vaccinations for dogs going to Canadian rescues. We have transported dogs to rescues for the Animal Shelter on occasion, and have worked with the city and county with suggestions for upgrades and improvements to the Animal Shelter, using SPLOST funding designated for this purpose. We communicate regularly with the city and county officials, and meet about the needs of our shelter.

If you would like to join our membership, and volunteer in upcoming events, please contact us at ec.humanesociety@gmail.com or like us on Facebook. Our mailing address is PO Box 443, Swainsboro, Georgia 30401. None of our funds whatsoever go outside our Emanuel County.

Barb Moore, President

Emanuel County Humane Society


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