Counting Our Blessings and Giving Thanks

By Joanna D. Samson, FOTAS Vice President

Thanksgiving is a time of reflection for those of us at FOTAS—a time to take stock of our blessings; to consider the progress we and the County have made in making the world a better place for Aiken County’s homeless, abandoned and abused animals.

Giving thanks and counting our blessings is particularly meaningful this year. On November 15th, the South Carolina Secretary of State announced that FOTAS would be one of the ten charitable organizations in the state to receive a 2017 Angel Award, which recognizes the most efficient and effective charitable organizations in the state based on, among other things, longevity of service, expenditures on charitable programs greater than 80% of the total budget (FOTAS was 83.9%), and good use of volunteer services.

This grant of this prestigious award to FOTAS is a testament to the dedication and support of our partner, the County, our extraordinary volunteers and donors, and you, the Aiken Community.

Thank you, Aiken County and Aiken County Council, for being a committed public partner and making it possible to save the lives of thousands of homeless animals.

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, 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.

And finally, thanks to you, the Aiken Community, for your extraordinary generosity. Once again, you 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.

Through your support, this past year FOTAS funded a new isolation and wellness pod at the Shelter; provided a digital x-ray machine and training for staff in the medical clinic; and funded heartworm treatments for 150 otherwise healthy dogs so that they could be placed in forever homes.

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% (pre-FOTAS, prior to 2009), to 84% this year (as of the end of October). That’s 3,454 animals, which means the FOTAS/County partnership has saved more animals than any other local rescue organization. In addition, we have successfully trapped, neutered and returned to field 880 community cats (through September), and organized 79 separate transfers (through November) to out-of-state rescue partners, sending 1100 animals to their forever homes.

That’s a very big deal.

Thank you for your continued support—you have made it possible for us to save thousands upon thousands of homeless animals in the past eight years. God bless you and your family during this holiday season.

Their lives are in our hands.



KELBIE: Retriever mix, female, 1-1/2 years old, black with white, 52 pounds - $35
KELBIE: Retriever mix, female, 1-1/2 years old, black with white, 52 pounds – $35
FINN: Domestic Short Hair, male, 2 months old, orange Tabby, 2.5 pounds - $10
FINN: Domestic Short Hair, male, 2 months old, orange Tabby, 2.5 pounds – $10