By Kathy Jacobs, FOTAS Programs Coordinator
I first saw Sam at the Aiken County Animal Shelter on a Thursday morning. I had returned a foster puppy that was ready to be moved to the adoption floor and asked one of the vet techs, Judith, if there were any other pups in residence that needed a foster. Judith introduced me to a five pound ball of fur trembling uncontrollably in his kennel. The puppy, which could not stop crying, had been picked up as a stray, alone and terrified. I knew I had to take him home, so I took him in my arms and christened him “Sam”.
At home, I prepared a place for Sam where he could feel safe and protected – a cozy crate in my bedroom covered with a sheet. He scarfed down a bowl of food and gulped a full bowl of water as fast as any full-size dog. My heart ached for this sad, helpless puppy that deserved so much better. I was determined to turn his life around.
Later on, my husband and I took Sam outside to let him explore the yard. He immediately bolted under the porch. My husband, shaken because he had never seen a puppy that fearful, wholeheartedly joined our campaign to turn little orphan Sam into a lovebug.
We employed our own dogs to lure him out from under the porch. Fortunately, Sam liked dogs more than people. He came out, wagging his tail hopefully whenever they looked his way. Interestingly, our dogs were hesitant with Sam at first – they instinctively knew how fragile and scared he was, and they moved cautiously to avoid overwhelming him. Now I ask you, aren’t dogs awesome?!
Our little Sam progressed, growing more confident each passing day. He still ate and drank quickly – like he was afraid the food and water would disappear. Eventually, Sam came to trust that we would not take away his food and water and occasionally left a bit of food in his bowl.
By day 3, our terrified, voiceless Sam even barked! He still froze when we held him, so our son Noah spent hours talking and sitting with him. We hoped that, with enough love and attention, Sam could learn that maybe humans aren’t so bad after all.
The shelter is full of puppies, dogs, kittens and cats that, like Sam, are fearful and unloved. Staff and volunteers can only do so much. The kennels are always full, and the cries and barking from these abandoned animals never stops. They have done nothing to deserve this fate.
FOTAS and the shelter desperately need people to temporarily care for these animals in their home – particularly during the summer when the shelter is terribly overcrowded. Trust me, there is nothing quite as rewarding as loving one of these scared animals out of their shell.
Please don’t hesitate. Call FOTAS at 803-514-4313 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You won’t regret it.
Their lives are in our hands.
By the way, little Sam found his forever home, thanks to his foster family, volunteers and shelter staff who advocated for him, and someone like you, who decided that a rescue puppy would make a fabulous pet.