February 27, 2024

Jayne Boswell of the Florence Area Humane Society receives Marion Medallion

Jayne Boswell, president of the Florence Area Humane Society, Tuesday morning was awarded a Marion Medallion in recognition of her work with the Florence Area Humane Society to rescue dogs, cats and horses in need in Florence County.

The Morning News and Francis Marion University celebrate Francis Marion Day every year by honoring people who work to make the Pee Dee a better place to live.

Working to rescue animals is a passion for Boswell, but one that might not have been had it not been for a cat that crossed her path.

“I was working with the school district and somebody brought in a kitten and we thought it was a very young kitten, it was so skinny and small. Turns out it was three months old,” Boswell said.

“A fellow teacher had found the kitten at a dump and the mother and other kittens had died. This one had managed to survive,” Boswell said. “I never had a cat in my life and brought home that cat and I will have to say she changed everything forever.”

Boswell’s life likely wasn’t the only life change. The Florence Area Humane Society building on McCurdy Road bears her name and she still volunteers there and at the society’s horse rescue, which currently has 20 resident horses.

“I was invited to come to a Humane Society meeting after that by a friend and the rest is history. I became involved as a volunteer and am still a volunteer,” Boswell said.

“It’s been a mission of love and compassion. There are some days there are lots of tears of sadness, but there are some days there is an overflowing river of tears of happiness,” Boswell said.

A commitment to animals

“We make a commitment when we take in animals, whether it is a dog or cat or horse. Our goal is to find them a loving home. It’s not their fault they end up in a shelter,” Boswell said..

“A lot of times the owner has abandoned them or they were in a neglectful situation of some type or sometimes an owner passes away and hasn’t considered what’s going to happen to their pet when they’re no longer there,” Boswell said.

Our goal is to rehabilitate them, provide health care, nutrition and socialization. I just wish we had more resources because so many more of them could be saved if we had more dollars, more volunteers,” Boswell said. “A bigger shelter, trainers on staff — there are just so many avenues that could turn these animals’ lives around.”

A commitment to help animals and the Humane Society need not be big, Boswell said.

Many small acts eventually amount to a big act, she said.

A growing need

The shelter started out on what is now an overgrown piece of land behind Florence National Cemetery.

“When I first started we were in a little trailer on that property. There was no way to keep it clean but we did the best we could,” she said.

Things were going to get better, but only just.

“Along with the city we built a concrete block building. It was unable to take in a lot of animals and the cats and dogs were in the same area together. It was so inadequate. That’s when we realized we needed to build a humane domain,” Boswell said.

There wasn’t an example of such a shelter nearby so Boswell and the society struck out to do the best they could and came up with space for the cats away from the dogs and space for the dogs where some have outdoor access from their pens and all have space where volunteers can walk them.

The need, though, has again outgrown the shelter.

“There wasn’t anything to look at for design. We really didn’t know what to build and we did the best we could. Now is the time to take a second look and build something better,” Boswell said.

“There would always be a need for this building, it could be an adoption center or quarantine area but there’s not enough property. I’d love to get some acreage,” she said. “Pets are like people. They don’t want to sit in a room all day long. Allow dogs to be dogs and cats to be cats.”

The society has 20 acres for horse rescue that  was purchased with a bequest. The property has a barn but it is already crowded with 20 rescue horses.

“A lot of people don’t think Florence has that many horses, but a lot of times these horses are the ones you don’t see or know about. Almost all of those 20 were taken from neglectful or abusive situations,” Boswell said.

It’s about stewardship

“Economic development and the well being of people are closely connected to the well being of animals,” Boswell said.

People coming in from out of state comment to Boswell they’ve never seen so many animals running loose or chained up.

Boswell said animals deserve better.

“Animals are a comfort to people and they provide a place in people’s hearts nothing else fills. Studies show animals extend the life of people,” Boswell said.

For some it goes beyond the pet/human relationship. It can be like a double rescue.

“Rescue animals can have a bond with rescue people,” Boswell said.

For Boswell her mission is biblical.

“As humans and as Christians we’re called to be compassionate. God provided creation and creatures and we were given the job of being caretakers for them.”

Boswell received her medallion during a Francis Marion Day ceremony in the lobby of Francis Marion University’s Performing Arts Center.

This article was written by Matt Robertson of the Florence Morning News and is published by permission. The original article appears on SCNow.com.