By Joanna D. Samson, FOTAS Vice-President
On any given day at the Aiken County Animal Shelter, FOTAS volunteers greet visitors, answer the phone, assist the County Adoption Coordinators, and coordinate on-site programs such as the Dog Ears Reading Program, birthday parties, yard sales or special events such as the Woofstock Dog, Cat & Music Festival (to be held in the fall of this year.)
FOTAS volunteers also work with the animals every day. Some cuddle and visit with the cats and kittens. Some walk the dogs on the trails around the property, often stopping by the lobby to hang out and hobnob with other volunteers and visitors. Some walk the dogs that have just had surgery. Some wash and groom dogs, while others play with the puppies in the segregated puppy pen.
In the newest program at the Shelter, FOTAS volunteers create and manage play groups in the yard consisting of multiple dogs on the adoption floor, giving them a much needed opportunity to socialize with their own kind and blow off some steam.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of FOTAS – through their and the County’s efforts over the past 7 years, thousands of animals have been saved and the euthanasia rate at the Shelter has dropped from 95% to 30%, an extraordinary accomplishment by any measure.
Is it perfect? No.
Can it be better? Yes, but until everyone in the county spays and neuters their cats, and the shockingly high intake numbers at the shelter come down, we need more people like you to commit time and resources to the 4,700 abandoned, homeless, abused and neglected animals that pass through the Shelter doors every year. We need such dedication from the community just to sustain this level of progress, much less build on it.
The Shelter and FOTAS particularly need more help in the summer months, when intake at the Shelter skyrockets and our volunteers take much needed time off to vacation with their family or beat the heat.
If you’ve ever thought about volunteering to help animals, now is the time. Perhaps you and one of your older children could volunteer together. Pick a time that works for you during operating hours at the Shelter, and we’ll make it work.
Tell us what interests you. Dog care and handling? Cats? Working at the front desk with other volunteers to greet the public? Short-term or long-term fostering? Fostering is a great way for your family to care for a dog or puppies without the commitment of owning a pet. There are so many possibilities, and the work you do with and for the animals makes an enormous difference in the lives of these unfortunate souls.
Don’t wait – call the FOTAS Hotline at (803) 514-4313, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Their lives are in our hands.
Above: FOTAS Volunteer Sandra Procter comforts Judy, a sweet shelter dog.
Above: Young FOTAS Volunteer Holly Heiens with Munchkin the cat.