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‘HOPE’ for pets at Effingham animal shelter

SPRINGFIELD – Man’s best friend has a major ally in Patricia Manser.

Fortunately for cats and other critters, she likes them, too.

Manser, a septuagenarian, is the founder of Helping Out Pets in Effingham (HOPE), a major benefactor of the Effingham County Animal Shelter. HOPE, a nonprofit organization established in 2012, spent approximately $30,000 on shelter animals last year.

“I’ve been going there for almost 20 years,” Manser said. “I started going up there and taking pictures of the animals that were there. Then I would go home and get on the computer and try to get them into different rescues – anywhere I could.”

Manser formed HOPE after an emaciated pit bull was discovered with multiple bite wounds along Old Louisville Road. His teeth were filed down, something regularly done to “bait” dogs to keep them from injuring other dogs in a fight.

The pit bull, named Kekoa, had exposed bones and dirt in his stomach. It also had an eye wound, ear infection and parasites.

“Because I’m not a rescue, we couldn’t take the animal in,” Manser said, “but we could help him medically and pay for his bills.”

HOPE continued to raise funds after Kekoa recovered and was accepted by a foster family. All HOPE donations were forwarded to the Effingham County Animal Shelter and that concept hasn’t changed.

“Things just rolled on,” Manser said. “If the shelter needed medical supplies, we raised the money. We’ve gotten so much (for it) I can’t even remember it all.

“We’ve (paid for a spay-and-neuter program) and, within this past year, we’ve (sterilized) a couple hundred cats.”

In addition to medical supplies, HOPE buys cleaning products for the shelter. It also paid for the recent construction of a shed.

“And I think two times within the past year, we paid for two dogs that had to have their legs amputated,” Manser said. “You know, those are pretty big surgeries.”

Manser vehemently disagrees with people who think injured and/or wild animals aren’t worth saving.

“God put them on the earth for a reason,” she said. “I’ve had so many people over the years call me who have adopted animals or gone through a rescue that knew the animal stated with HOPE. They tell me that the animal changed their life.

“…It’s not just helping animals. It’s really not. It starts out that way but it helps us humans, too.”

The COVID-19 pandemic adversely impacted HOPE’s fundraising efforts and the Barn Cat Program it backs was completely depleted late last year. The program funds the sterilization of wild felines that are returned to pre-approved sites after the procedure is performed.

“I don’t like to be greedy (and pressure people to give),” Manser said. “Fortunately, we do have a few people who are there every month with a check.”

Manser said she thoroughly enjoys helping animals at the shelter and working with its director, Lorna Shelton.

“Lorna works so well with everyone,” Manser said. “She works so well with HOPE and I feel so blessed that she has come to this community and taken on that job. … I prayed and prayed that somebody would come, do something and work with us – and she does.

“We couldn’t do what we do without her.”

Learn more about HOPE at and

To donate, mail check to HOPE, P.O. Box 2601, Rincon, Ga. 31326.