By Joanna Dunn Samson, FOTAS Vice President
The Thanksgiving Day holiday is just around the corner, and no matter how much we might complain about large family gatherings and way too much food, the alternative – being alone on that day – is, for most of us, unbearable.
The animals at the Aiken County Animal Shelter have a particularly hard time over the holidays. In addition to being homeless, bewildered and confined to a kennel, the shelter is closed from Thursday through Sunday with minimal staff to feed and water and maybe a brief walk in the morning one or two days – weather, schedules and available volunteers permitting. That means that for four days, there are no afternoon walks, no opportunity to escape the monotony of their kennels, play, blow off a little steam and bask in the attention and love of a human.
It doesn’t have to be that way. FOTAS and the County Shelter are launching their annual “Take Them All Home for the Holidays” program, in which qualified families volunteer to babysit adoptable, orphan dogs over the Thanksgiving Day (and Christmas Day) weekends. Here’s how it works.
First, contact the County Shelter and fill out a foster application, or download the application on www.fotasaiken.org and fax it back to the Shelter. Shelter staff will review your application to make certain you have a home with a safe area for your weekend guests and the time and ability to give the animals attention and exercise during their stay. It is not necessary to keep your canine guests in your home: a warm outside shelter or a garage will suffice – they won’t mind. Plus, it won’t cost you a thing but time. FOTAS will provide you with food and a crate and blankets, if necessary.
Then FOTAS and shelter staff will match a dog to your accommodations and wishes (you might consider babysitting two if you plan to keep them in a shelter outside of the house so they will keep each other company). You would pick them up at the shelter on Wednesday afternoon (November 25th) by 5 and bring them back on Monday morning (November 30th).
There are so many reasons to babysit one of our orphans for the holidays. The dogs get a break from the stress of shelter life. They get lots of human contact and affection. Your experience with your ward in a home situation helps us better understand them. All of these things make the dogs calmer and more adoptable so they can find their forever homes.
Or, maybe you have been considering a first dog or adding an additional dog to your home, so this would be a perfect opportunity to assess how a new canine family member will mesh with your family life and schedule without any obligation past the holidays.
Sure, it might be hard to take your holiday guest back to the shelter on Monday morning, but the short-term and long term-advantages for the dog are huge. You can make a difference in that dog’s life.
Don’t let them sit alone this holiday season. Call us at 803-513-4313 or the Shelter at 803-642-1537 and get the process started. You won’t be sorry.
Their lives are in our hands.