By Joanna D. Samson, FOTAS Vice President
Did you ever wonder where every homeless, injured, stray or abused animal picked up in the County (outside of the City) goes? Or where a homeless animal goes if the “no-kill” shelter is full? Or where an irresponsible County resident takes their bewildered pet when they decide that pet is inconvenient?
That would be the Aiken County Animal Shelter, which is required by law to take homeless or injured County strays, abused animals, community cats, and owner-surrendered pets. Five thousand forsaken animals a year pass through those doors, which is not only tragic, it’s costly. Caring and finding a home for all those animals is the responsibility of the County, funded by taxpayer dollars. FOTAS supplements the County’s care through private donations and volunteer effort.
Taking care of that many animals is a daunting, never-ending job for the County’s dedicated staff and FOTAS volunteers, yet every year, they manage to save more and more dogs and cats. It requires getting up close and personal with all those animals to make them appealing adoption prospects. They need to be groomed, walked and exercised. They need human attention.
FOTAS and the County go the extra mile even for the animals that seem hopeless, neglected or injured; and in virtually every case, we find a place for those animals, too.
Take Henry, a handsome, one-year old shepherd mix who was picked up by Animal Control, severely injured from being hit by a car. When Dr. Levy determined Henry’s injuries needed special surgery, FOTAS recruited and paid for the services of Dr. Groover at Aiken Veterinary Clinic to repair Henry’s badly displaced hip. Today, this sweet, hopeful dog is recovering in foster care arranged by FOTAS.
Then there’s Mr. Chuck, a Corgi/Spaniel stray picked up by Animal Control. Not only is Mr. Chuck heartworm positive, but both of his eyes were badly damaged (one had to be removed by Dr. Levy). FOTAS tapped its network of supporters and made a special plea to Martha Ann Tudor in Augusta, who has a remarkable knack finding homes for hard-to-place dogs. Mr. Chuck now resides with a fabulous family on a horse farm in Aiken.
Finally, there’s Helen, a beautiful, white Lab/Bully mix that could break your heart. Animal Control found Helen abandoned, walking in circles in the middle of a country road. She had no eyes—NO EYES! (What kind of heartless fiend would do that to a dog?) Once again, FOTAS reached out to its network of rescue partners, one of whom found her a remarkable family with a special-needs child and a seeing-eye dog for Helen. Perfect.
These are just recent examples of the extra mile that FOTAS volunteers and Shelter staff go to help these unfortunate animals find the love they deserve. There is a special place in heaven for those folks.
This week, bring the joy of the season and some heavenly grace to one of the wonderful animals at the Shelter.
Like the gentle, housebroken Henry, who won’t fit in a stocking, but will gladly stay up to share some milk and cookies with Santa.
Merry Christmas and God bless.
Their lives are in our hands.