The Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County: More Than Pet Adoption

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  • “Animals stay as long as needed,” said Katherine Russell, Director of Philanthropy. “That’s one of the really special things about us.”

The Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County was established in 1933 as an animal welfare organization serving the greater community. Today, it finds itself at home in a facility adjacent to Shelby Farms Park. With full-time veterinarian Dr. Mary Manspeaker on staff, the Humane Society saves the lives of animals that have been injured, abused, and neglected and offers refuge, nutritious food, and medical care.  The organization works to find forever homes for the animals in its care, whether that takes days or months.  In addition to its rescue and adoption operations, the Humane Society educates area residents on responsible pet ownership and humane animal treatment and offers low-cost veterinary care to partner rescue groups and underserved community residents.

Humane Society staff and volunteers provide training and affection to the animals in its care. Dedicated trainers provide socialization skills so the animals can learn to trust humans again. The organization places between 700 and 1,000 animals into homes on an annual basis. That number depends on the types of animals that come to the society, the types of injuries they have, and the recovery period. “Animals stay as long as needed,” said Katherine Russell, Director of Philanthropy. “That’s one of the really special things about us.”

The Humane Society is not a city shelter. It doesn’t receive government funding or money from national Humane Society associations. Rather, it relies solely on the donations of supporters and funds raised through a variety of events throughout the year. Volunteers are vital to the organization’s success. That includes individuals who walk dogs on a weekly basis as well as foster families who take in animals too young to get vaccinations.

The Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County has a thorough adoption process to make sure every match is a good one. It includes adoption counseling to discuss the financial and time commitments associated with pet ownership. If an adopter has children, they interact with the potential pet in a meet-and-greet space. The same thing goes with any current pets the adopter has so the future “siblings” get off on the right foot. The society provides a low-cost pet adoption option. All pets are spayed or neutered and fees include vaccinations and heartworm treatments. If an animal is heartworm positive, he or she returns for treatments until complete.

In addition to serving as a low-cost pet adoption center, the Humane Society plays an important role in educating the community about pet ownership, and offers a low-cost vaccine clinic. “Vaccines are expensive,” Russell said. “Low-cost vaccine clinics are a way to make pet ownership possible and affordable for people. Part of our mission is enhancing the human experience through animal companionship. The unconditional love that animals bring adds so much value to life.”

The society’s facility has an adoption floor, cat house, and a hold area for stray animals to allow time for owners to find lost pets before being placed for adoption. The facility is open Sundays and Wednesdays through Fridays noon to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Adoptable animals are featured on the website at The Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County wants to grow its volunteer base and greatly appreciates financial support at all levels. For more information on how to assist its mission, visit

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