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SJBHS Celebrates 15 Years of Saving Lives!

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

The Founding of SJBHS

In the Fall of 1995, after a visit to the pound to search for a neighbor's cat, Carolyn M. Lee became very concerned about the homeless animals of Gulf County.

Carolyn sought help from Dr. Tim Nelson, who arranged a meeting (Dec. 1995) between local government and a small group of concerned citizens dubbed "The Animal Control Volunteer Group." Dr. Nelson took to the City Commission the results of a local survey of citizens who thought we needed a Humane Society in Gulf County. Commissioners began looking at other shelters with thoughts of consolidating the city and county shelters. At the September 1997 meeting of the City Commission, the City Commissioners and John Stanley, Jr representing the Gulf County Commission, discussed building a new shelter. It was agreed that the county would provide land and inmate labor while the City would provide utilities. Each would pay the salary of one Animal Control Officer. The St. Joseph Bay Humane Society was formed soon after and received 501c3 status in 1998. As of 2006, thousands of animals have been adopted to happy homes and education regarding spaying and neutering to avoid the homeless problem is a focus at this time. A new facility was constructed in 2007 and provides safe housing for the homeless animals of our county.

As your local animal shelter and the holding facility for stray and lost animals, we are reliant on donations to fund our life-saving work . Without our community to support us, we would not be able to save hundreds of lives every year.

Help Us Continue the Fight

In 2020, after over two decades of hard work, we finally earned our no-kill designation status due to the hard work of our staff, board, and community support. We've saved over 8,000 lives since opening our doors, a number that continues to rise every day. We're extremely proud of the progress we've made to establish strong volunteer programs, community outreach such as the pet food bank and spay/neuter partnerships, and safe rehoming procedures.

We take the highest quality care of our pets - each and every one receives daily love and affection. We make their stay with us as comfortable as possible, with top notch medical care. No animals at our shelter are put down for treatable health conditions - including caring for the heartworm epidemic. Over 80% of the dogs that enter our shelter require expensive heartworm treatment - which can cost thousands per animal.

Our ability to continue providing this high level of care is dependent on the quality of our facility - after 25 years, our building is in much needed need of repairs. Our daily operating costs continue to rise as we take in more animals (we are always full or over-full).

Right now our laundry bill is about $1,500 each month. This is because we have to clean kennels, wash tons of laundry and other needs for the animals. We need to resurface our outside quarantine kennels and enclose the area so animals are more comfortable in all weather conditions. Your love and support is always appreciated and we hope you can help us again to continue to save so many lives! Twenty Five years means our building needs upgrades and work. We have helped over 8,000 animals in these 25 years. Thanks for any donation to help us continue to save lives!

How Can You Help?

  • Donate: Every dollar matters. Consider donating to our 25 year anniversary fund

  • Adopt: Our #1 goal is to get animals into loving homes. See our adoptable pets.

  • Foster: Provide a temporary safe haven for a pet not adapting well in the shelter, with medical needs, or one that needs extra help finding their forever family. We provide all supplies; it's 100% free to foster. Complete a foster application today.

  • Volunteer: It takes a village! We always have fun events and daily needs at the shelter. Great way for kids to earn volunteer hours too! Learn about our volunteer program.

  • Rescue Partnerships: we're always looking to forge new relationships with rescues and other shelter facilities throughout the US. Reach out to our office manager at if you have capacity to pull any animals.

Meet Our Pets Most in Need of a Home

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