Animal Rescue Mission Saving Lives in Jasper

Little Bit and Mary Elise Gabbard.
Little Bit and Mary Elise Gabbard.

Stray and abandoned animals in Jasper County are now getting a new lease on life, thanks to a new nonprofit animal rescue mission. The new Jasper Animal Rescue Mission is taking the place of the old Jasper County Animal Shelter, and although it's still in the same location, they're making a lot of changes to help more animals, so more people can adopt them.

Little Bit the dog is just as playful as he can be, but just a month ago he arrived at the mission in bad shape after someone threw him our of a car, abandoning him.

"Oh you wouldn't believe Little Bit," said Mary Elise Gabbard, president of the mission's board. "It was the most pathetic thing. We were all crying looking at him. The hair he did have was under a layer of scabs, and his little legs and feet were swollen."

But thanks to a lot of love and care at the new mission, Little Bit is ready for adoption, which probably wouldn't have been the case if the nonprofit group didn't take over the Jasper County Animal Shelter.

"Under the old rules, he would not have been here," said Gabbard. "He probably would have been put down immediately because of his health issues."

In fact, Gabbard says a lot of the animals probably would have been put to sleep under the old shelter rules because of overcrowding and lack of funding. That's why this animal lover took it upon herself to start up this nonprofit and give these animals a chance at a good life.

"We're not turning a switch and magically becoming the solution to the problem of stray animals in Jasper County," said Gabbard. "We're just working at it every day."

Although it's a lot of work getting this program up and running, most everyone at the rescue mission agrees it's worth their while.

"When someone we know adopts them that we know and is going to take care of them, my heart jumps," said the mission's Mae Long. "I get so excited."

The rescue mission is at capacity now and they're looking for volunteers and donations to help give the animals the best care that they can provide.

To help with some of those costs, they are holding a dog wash this coming Saturday at the Bluffton Today parking lot in Bluffton from 9am-3pm.

Shelter info online at

Reported by: Jaime Dailey,