By Joanna Dunn Samson, FOTAS Vice President
Last Saturday, people started lining up at the County Shelter around 10:00 in the morning. FOTAS volunteers and County staff were manning the sign-in desk, cleaning up the yards, walking and grooming dogs, drying off kittens, organizing paperwork, plugging in gigantic fans, directing traffic and icing down the water bottles. The morning was bright and hot. By 11:00, the mercury had risen to 87 degrees, and the line of people snaked around the building.
What would possess so many good citizens to stand patiently in line in the brutal heat? They were waiting to adopt their new best friend and be part of the national Clear the Shelters Day, an annual pet adoption initiative in which 900 shelters across the country participate. The collective goal? To find a home for every single resident of all 900 shelters in one day, including the 63 cats, kittens, dogs and puppies at the County Shelter.
The doors opened promptly at 11:00. The next three hours were a flurry of frenzied, but well-orchestrated, activity. “It was an unbelievable team effort,” said Jennifer Miller, FOTAS President. “All hands were on deck, including Ashley Jacobs and Brian Sanders, the Assistant County Administrators, Bobby Arthurs, the Shelter Manager, and Dr. Lisa Levy, the Shelter veterinarian, who spent her day off at the Shelter answering questions about the animals and moving cats and kittens from the intake wing to the Adoption Floor.”
And it worked. By the time the dust settled and the Shelter doors closed at 4:00, every kennel on the Adoption Floor was empty, and 37 dogs and 26 cats were on their way to a new family and a better life.
Like Gil, a large muscular dog who was adopted by a kindhearted older couple. Or Archie, who had the unfortunate distinction of being the longest-term resident of the Shelter. Or Ripley, a large brown dog with a gray muzzle with scars and filed-down teeth—evidence of abuse as a “bait” dog in an illegal fighting ring. Or Poppy, a black and white mamma dog whose puppies had been born and weaned in foster care. Or Ray, a blind senior cat; or Mindy and Marietta, two kittens from the same litter with a deep bond; or Nina, the last lovely lady taken home at the end of the day.
The list goes on and on. All of these animals were in the Shelter through no fault of their own, and they all needed someone to give them a chance to love and be loved. The Clear the Shelter Day gave them that chance.
It couldn’t have come at a better time. The Shelter is packed to capacity during the summer months—two weeks ago, a staggering 186 animals were admitted to the Shelter in a single week. Now that there is room, all of the animals in Intake can move to the Adoption Floor for their second chance to find a home with people to love. The work goes on and on. We cannot let them down.
Finally, the response of you, the Aiken community, was nothing short of breathtaking. We are profoundly touched by your commitment and your compassion. Thank you and God Bless.
Their lives are in our hands.
By the Numbers
From August 1-23, 400+ dogs and cats were received by the County Shelter.
Through Aug. 31, cats and kittens are just $10, dogs and puppies $35.
Pets of the Week
OLIVE: Shepherd mix, female, 9 years old, tan, 23 pounds – $35
gray with white, 2 pounds – $10