The Humane Society of Etowah County was incorporated on April 30, 1973, to relieve suffering and to enhance the lives of animals through humane and educational services to the residents of Etowah County. Founding members of the HSEC included Alabama State Senator Richard Malone, local veterinarian Dr. James Isbell, and trustees Cindy Forsman, Pat Martin, Donna Parker, Mary Camp, Carroll Crane, Debbie Johnston, Matthew Gilbert, Elaine Gilbert, and Earl Garrett. Sen. Malone advocated on behalf of all animal shelters in the state through legislation passed to create fair and adequate animal sheltering facilities for all municipalities. The original goal of the HSEC was to serve as an alternative to other operations in the county. The Society voted its first official board of directors into office in 1975, and in July of that year the HSEC became a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Initially an organization without an actual facility, the Humane Society of Etowah County was housed in a number of different locations from 1974 through the early 1980’s, when the HSEC found its first permanent home at 1700 Chestnut Street in Gadsden in the old city paint shop, as part of an agreement to provide animal sheltering services with the city. In 2000, citing deteriorating conditions at the shelter that could no longer be adequately repaired, the board of directors began to investigate the construction of a new facility. The Gadsden Industrial Development Board deeded 5 acres of property to the HSEC in February 2004, and ground was broken in July 2006 after an aggressive capital campaign was underway. Construction of the building began in June 2007, and on January 2, 2008, the HSEC cut the ribbon on its new 14,000 square-foot Pet Rescue and Adoption Center.
The HSEC Pet Rescue and Adoption Center serves as a center for animal adoptions and also provides animal control sheltering services for the cities of Gadsden and Attalla. The shelter houses animals brought in by the public, strays, and all animals brought in by animal control officers in the contracted municipalities, including animals involved in cruelty cases. The staff of the Society is actively involved in assisting with cruelty investigations in northeast Alabama. The HSEC employs a full time Executive Director and staff, and is governed by a volunteer board of directors. Vicki Meeks has served as the Executive Director of the Society since 1996. The HSEC also relies on hundreds of volunteers throughout Etowah County who assist with programs and fundraising.
Programs of the Humane Society of Etowah County include educational outreach through school programs, the Pet Pals program for young volunteers, and a partnership with the Imagination Place Children’s Museum, where the HSEC maintains a permanent exhibit; community outreach programs including low-income spay and neuter programs, bite prevention education, dog dips and rabies clinics, and pet health care education; community awareness events including Paws In The Park and Fantasy Falls; and fundraising activities including a silent auction, the Pawsapalooza benefit concert, and roadblocks.