By Joanna D. Samson, FOTAS Vice President
The Fourth of July holiday is a time to celebrate heroism – not only the monumental heroism of the colonial Americans who risked their lives and freedom to protect liberty and the pursuit of happiness for generations to come, but the day-to-day heroism of everyday citizens who make a difference in the lives of the people around them. People whose hearts radiate kindness and for whom compassion trumps self-interest. People whose natural instinct is to protect the weak and the vulnerable at any cost. People like Scott Tyler.
Scott lives with his wife Amanda, his three children and three dogs in Beech Island in southwest Aiken County. We first met Scott in the fall of 2014, when he set about to save a little bull terrier cross with a dark brindle coat and white chest named Harley, who had lived most of his short, unhappy life abused and neglected by drunks and crack addicts. Harley’s disposition was so sweet and his situation so desperate that Scott began feeding and providing shelter to Harley even though his resources were scant.
“It’s tough,” says Scott, who attributes his extraordinary tender-heartedness to a life-long love of animals and his 7 years of service as an army combat medic. “My wife Amanda and I work hard to take care of our three kids and there’s not a lot extra, but I say to my wife, ‘If we don’t do it, who will?’ The truth is, neither one of us can bear to see anything suffer, so we bite the bullet and do what we can.”
As a result of Scott’s care and concern, Harley was rescued by the Aiken County Animal Shelter and FOTAS and lives today with his forever family, cherished and loved.
Harley is just one of the many dogs that have come under Scott’s protection. Over the years, he has provided food, water and shelter to numerous strays, abandoned puppies, and neglected neighborhood dogs and networked to find them homes with responsible owners. Just last year, Scott was picking up supplies from the County Shelter at the same time a bereft woman was about to surrender a little 3-year-old maltese to Animal Control. Scott intervened, and now little Ma-Ma shares canine honors in the Tyler household with Cody and Polly. And so it goes.
Last Saturday, volunteers gathered at the Tyler’s home to fence-in a large play area for the dogs in the back yard as part the Fences for Fido program sponsored jointly by FOTAS and the SPCA-Albrecht Center, which will make it easier for the family to protect and contain their dogs and any other dogs lucky enough to encounter Scott in their time of need – a fitting tribute for a man who asks himself on a regular basis: “What kind of person would I be if I don’t help? What would that say about me?”
Now that’s a question only a hero would ask.
Be a hero yourself. Come to the Aiken Animal Shelter and adopt your next best friend, or volunteer, or be a foster family. We need you. They need you.
Their lives are in our hands.