05 October 2014
Aiken’s Community Shelter
By Joanna Dunn Samson, FOTAS Director
It’s happened. The new Aiken County Animal Shelter has become a community place to be proud of – a place where folks like to come and volunteer their time and effort.
For those of us who experienced the dismal, depressing conditions of the old shelter, the transformation has been nothing short of amazing.
The FOTAS volunteer program is thriving. The dedicated volunteers work closely with the County staff and are a critical, consistent, enthusiastic presence at the shelter.
Jay Lyda from Southern K9 Solutions in Augusta and Susi Cohen from the Palmetto Dog Club in Aiken come to the shelter weekly to help FOTAS volunteers and County staff with basic dog training skills.
The new shelter is host to a number of on-site community events, like the very popular Woofstock and the Children’s Dog Ears Reading Program.
The shelter is also the beneficiary this year of the Aiken Lowe’s Project Heroes, a program in which Lowe’s employees volunteer to perform community service for a local nonprofit organization.
Lowe’s employees Mark Brown, Chip Poston, Yvonne Fitzgerald, Matt Diggin, Patrick Casper and William Frashuer are providing the labor and care necessary to install wiring and speakers throughout the shelter for a much-needed public address system, which can also be used to pipe-in calming music (a little Om Guitar, anybody?) for stressed-out shelter animals, staff and volunteers.
Then there’s Logan Gibbons, an Eagle Scout candidate with Boy Scout Troup 432 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, who also chose the County Shelter to be the focus of his community project.
Logan and his troop members, under the supervision of his dad, Grant Gibbons, constructed a gazebo shelter in the dog exercise yard. The boys poured concrete footings, constructed new posts and moved the roof of the overhang from the shelter created by FOTAS at the old shelter.
Now, as a result of their generosity and hard work, the dogs, volunteers and staff have a place to relax in the exercise yard shielded from the scorching summer sun.
The 6th graders from Aiken Girl Scout Troup 2409 were also busy at the shelter this summer. In order to earn their Bronze Award, the girls must perform community service. They resolved to help the homeless – both people and animals.
The girls came to the shelter twice a week for a month to help wherever needed, doing everything from weeding, cleaning and helping walk and groom the animals.
“They loved it,” says troop leader Wendy Dietzel, those daughter Ella is a member of Troup 2409. “Because they were there on a regular basis, they got to know the animals – they felt a part of it. They were thrilled when the dogs found homes. They learned about the need to spay and neuter, and they learned about the sad realities of a crowded shelter.”
“The experience really had a positive impact on the girls. It ended up being much more of an educational experience than I had anticipated.
The growing connection of the Aiken community to the County Shelter, as illustrated by these few examples, is heartwarming. More and more, folks are adopting their new pets from the shelter, practicing responsible pet ownership, and committing to spaying and neutering their animals to reduce the overpopulation of unwanted pets.
Thank you good citizens of Aiken. Together we are making a difference in the lives of the County’s thousands of homeless and unwanted animals.
ADOPTION SPECIAL AT THE SHELTER:
SILVER PAWS & SENIORS — half price adoption special for adopters over 60 who adopt dog/cat 6+ yrs — $35/dogs — $17 cats
PETS OF THE WEEK
LOUISE female, Shepherd mix, 4 months old, 28 lbs — $70.00
MELISSA female, Tabby, 3 years old — $35.00