08 March 2015
By Joanna Dunn Samson, FOTAS Vice President
When the SPCA-Albrecht Center’s Development Director, Chrissey Miller, proposed a joint FOTAS/SPCA pilot to save dogs from the cruel existence of living their entire life at the end of a chain tethered to a stake, we were delighted. Not only was it a chance to make a joint statement about responsible dog ownership with our sister agency, it was an opportunity to join a growing national movement to eliminate the cruel practice of chaining a dog to a stationary object.
Thus Fences4Fido was born. The team picked a date – February 28th – and began the search for a family in Aiken or Aiken County who wanted to improve the life of their tethered dog with a more humane containment system that was beyond their means to acquire without assistance. In short order, FOTAS volunteer Connie Jeffcoat identified the perfect family: long-time Wagener residents with 4 mixed bull-breed dogs chained to stakes in the backyard.
“This family was a great choice,” said the County’s Chief Animal Control Officer, Bobby Arthurs. “They loved their dogs, but had fallen on some hard times and just did not have the resources to provide fencing. They were grateful for the help.”
The family also presented a challenge because they had 4 dogs in the backyard: 2 that don’t get along and 1 escape artist, so containing all 4 dogs in one fenced-in area wasn’t going to work. The team chewed it over and came up with an alternate plan: 2 fenced-in areas and one long trolley with plenty of unobstructed space to run for the escape artist. Plus, each dog would get a brand new doghouse.
All the pieces came together last Saturday for the first Fences4Fido project, and the results were sensational – on all levels.
First of all, the family was friendly, receptive and accommodating. I was worried they might feel overwhelmed when this team of 20 strangers showed up and began digging in their back yard, but they didn’t. On the contrary, they tended to their dogs, chatted with volunteers and offered to help. It was a pleasure to meet and work with them.
Second, the team of FOTAS and SPCA staff and volunteers, joined by Bobby Arthurs and Assistant County Administrators Andy Merriman and Brian Sanders wielding shovels and post-hole diggers, was awesome. Everyone was relaxed and efficient, and by lunchtime, the work was done.
“I felt a kindred spirit and enthusiasm among all of us who donated their time and skills to complete the project on time and under budget,” said Jennifer Miller, President of FOTAS.
“Plus,” said Frank Townsend, FOTAS Treasurer, “it was fun. The teamwork was impressive and at the end of the day, the pups were happy.”
Yes they were, which brings me to the most significant result of all – the reaction of the family’s 4 sweet, lovable dogs. They were visibly and undeniably happy. The 3 dogs romped around their assigned pens, elated with their newly found freedom. The escape artist explored every new inch of his greater movement on the trolley with a light cable and better fitting collar, wagging his tail furiously.
Every single one of us who witnessed their joy was deeply moved. Our efforts have made an enduring difference in the lives of these dogs.
After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?
PETS OF THE WEEK
HOPE Female, Lab mix — 1 yr old — 86 lbs — $70.00
SYLVESTER Male, Domestic Short Hair — 2 yrs old — 9 lbs — $35.00