09 November 2014
By Joanna Dunn Samson, FOTAS Director
When Daisy Walker first laid eyes on a handsome, six-year old, tri-colored hound crossbreed named Gaige at the Aiken County Animal Shelter, she fell in love.
“He looked up at me with those eyes and wagged his tail, and I said to my son, ‘This is the one!’” says Daisy.
And so he was. Daisy adopted Gaige, and now he is her constant companion. He sleeps with her. He protects her. He even talks to her.
“He’s my baby. He talks to me when he wants something, like ice in his bowl – he loves ice in his bowl!” says Daisy, laughing with delight. “I’ve never had a dog like this.”
That’s how Daisy and Gaige became the first seniors to take advantage of the Silver Paws program developed by FOTAS and the County, which pairs senior citizens and senior dogs or cats for half-price – all the time.
Senior Paws and other programs like Fall in Love, Nine Lives for Nine Dollars, Back in Black, regular half-price specials and the lowest standard adoption fees in Aiken have boosted adoption numbers to all time highs, making a lot of folks and a lot of animals, like Daisy and Gaige, very happy in the process.
The FOTAS On-Site Event Coordinator, Ellie Joos, organizes events designed to help people become more educated pet owners. Events such as H.E.L.P. (How to Enjoy Living with a Puppy), a session for puppies and their owners led by Dr. Holly Woltz and Dr. Sybil Davis, and the Dog Ears Reading and Listening Program (a joint effort with the Aiken County Regional Library System), which helps young children hone their reading skills by reading to shelter dogs who love the attention, have been well attended.
FOTAS has organized and provided training sessions for FOTAS volunteers and staff by professional trainers like Jay Lyda of Veteran K9 Solutions and Susi Cohen of the Palmetto Dog Club to teach shelter dogs basic obedience skills, which also makes them more adoptable. (By the way, Jay and Susi offer a free training session for new adopted dog owners.)
With the help of the trainers and through Urgent Appeals made through the FOTAS communication networks, long-term canine shelter residents whose times were running out – dogs like Luci, Olivia and Andrew – have found homes as service dogs and beloved pets.
Then there’s the FOTAS Heartworm Positive (HWP) Program, which gives dogs who test positive for heartworms but are not sick, a chance to be adopted. FOTAS partners with local vets and pays for 30 days of heartworm treatment meds and 6 months of heartworm prevention to anyone who adopts a HWP dog.
Bella, an 8 year-old Chihuahua, was the first HWP dog adopted from the shelter.
“Bella is wonderful,” says Manuella Kowitt, “and very healthy for an older dog – you’d never suspect she is HWP. Since I have to give her heartworm prevention medicine anyway, she’s been no extra trouble at all.”
All this work and special programming is paying off.
“In August and September, 610 dogs and cats were adopted or transferred to no-kill facilities,” says Jennifer Miller, President of FOTAS. “As of October 1st, FOTAS Fix-a-Pet and Lenny’s Brigade have funded 350 spay/neuters of pets and community cats. We couldn’t be more pleased.”
The outpouring of community support in terms of time, money and service have made a real difference in the lives of and outcomes for the thousands of homeless County animals.
Please help us continue our work. Their lives are in our hands.
PETS OF THE WEEK
TALLY Female, hound — 2 years old — 40 lbs — $70
BECKY Female, tabby — 4 mos old — $10