Thanksgiving is a time of reflection for those of us at FOTAS—a time to take stock of our blessings; to consider the remarkable progress we and the County have made in making the world a better place for Aiken County’s homeless, abandoned and abused animals; and in particular, to celebrate the many people who have contributed to our astonishing success and made this journey so meaningful.
Thanks to our committed partner, Aiken County, for making it possible to save the lives of thousands of homeless animals in the County. The strength of its commitment and the success of our partnership is evidenced not only by the state-of-the-art public animal shelter on Wire Road, but also by its increased commitment to subsidized spay/neuter for County residents.
Thanks to Paige Bayne, the County’s Enforcement and Animal Services Director, Bobby Arthurs, the Shelter Manager and Chief Animal Control Officer, Dr. Lisa Levy, the Shelter’s veterinarian, and all the Shelter staff for their dedication to increasing the opportunities for each adoptable animal to find a forever home and their willingness to implement new programs and practices that enhance those opportunities.
Thanks to the army of volunteers who make the work of FOTAS possible – everything from manning the front desk, walking and training dogs (91 volunteers walked dogs during the last 3 months), managing canine play groups, working special events and fundraisers, fostering dogs, organizing transfers, manning off-site adoption events, working on publicity, social media and financial record and bookkeeping responsibilities, and coordinating FOTAS-Fix-a-Pet activities.
Committed volunteers like Bonnie White, who helps at the shelter four days a week. “I get back so much more than I give,” says Bonnie. “When I leave the shelter, I’m not thinking about my bills or the dishes in the sink; I’m thinking about the dogs I helped and what else I can do to make them a better adoption prospect. Or I’m thinking about the abandoned kitten who just needs lots of love.”
Bonnie pauses. “You know what?” she says with a sigh. “I can’t adopt them all, but I sure can love them all.”
I am profoundly touched by her sentiment. I know she is not alone—all of our volunteers feel the same love, empathy, and commitment to the cause that Bonnie does.
And finally, thanks to you, the Aiken Community, for your extraordinary generosity and support. You have made it possible for FOTAS to help the County provide the best possible care for shelter animals, increase adoptions and transfers, and supplement the County’s spay/neuter financial assistance program.
And here’s the best part: all of that love, effort, commitment and hard work has paid off. The live release rate at the shelter has increased from 5% (in the pre-FOTAS years prior to 2009), to 29% (in the year before the new shelter opened in 2013) to almost 70% in the past year.
That’s a very big deal.
FOTAS and the thousands of animals that have been saved over the past 7 years thank you for your continued support. God bless you and your family during this holiday season.
Their lives are in our hands.