By Gary Willoughby, Executive Director, SPCA Serving Erie County
Nine years ago, when I moved to Aiken, South Carolina to join the SPCA there, it was difficult to imagine the progress that would be made in animal welfare in such a short period of time. The SPCA and the Aiken County Animal Shelter both have wonderful new facilities and important in-house and community to improve the lives of homeless animals and family pets in need of help.
The work that FOTAS has done with their partnership with the Aiken County Animal Shelter is very encouraging, particularly in developing a transport network that helps so many dogs find their forever homes in other parts of the country.
The overwhelming number of surrendered and stray animals brought to the Aiken County shelter has forced FOTAS to look at other alternatives such as transferring some of the animals to other shelters all across the country. The logistics and coordination of these transfers to the “right” shelters requires a tremendous amount of work but it is all worth it when a successful shelter-partner is found.
These FOTAS transfer programs – combined with access to affordable spay and neuter programs, treatment for heartworm positive dogs, volunteer programs to socialize and exercise the animals there waiting for adoption, community outreach, and a vibrant foster network – have made a significant and positive impact in Aiken County.
I’m honored to share with the Aiken Standard’s readers that FOTAS and the SPCA Serving Erie County have formed a new partnership to send Aiken County dogs and cats to my facility in Buffalo, NY.
The SPCA Serving Erie County is fortunate to find new homes for around 8,000 dogs and cats each year and this new partnership with FOTAS and Aiken County has the potential to help hundreds of dogs and cats find their forever homes, while helping to ease the overcrowding of the county shelter.
The staff and volunteers of the SPCA Serving Erie County are excited about the new partnership with FOTAS and the Aiken County Animal Shelter and what it will mean for the homeless animals each group helps. The potential adopters here in Buffalo are eager to help and most of the animals that make the over 800 mile journey through seven states will be adopted in the first day or two they become available.
Our first transport in June was unique for both groups, in that it included nine kittens. Nationally, dog intake trends for northern shelters have decreased, allowing dogs and puppies to make their way to the Midwest and New England areas, but only recently have the same trends occurred with cats and kittens.
We are thrilled to be part of this new win/win partnership but need to remind all of you that the number of adoptions we hope to generate from the Aiken County Animal Shelter represents a tiny sample of the overwhelming number of animals that must be saved from there.
Thank you to all of you in Aiken County who donate, volunteer and adopt – as well as those of you who set an example by getting your animals spayed/neutered, have a veterinarian care for them and who consider your pets a part of your family. We couldn’t do this work without you.