FOTAS volunteers — ambassadors of the Aiken County Shelter

15 March 2015

FOTAS volunteers -- ambassadors of the Aiken County Shelter

By Joanna Dunn Samson, FOTAS Vice President

It’s Wednesday at the Aiken County Animal Shelter. The lunch break is over, and the doors have been opened to the public for the afternoon. There are a few moments of peace and quiet before the inevitable wave of shelter activity rolls in like gangbusters.

A man brings the bed, collars, leashes, toys, food and food bowls of his beloved, recently deceased dog to the shelter as a donation. A woman stops by to check about a lost Chihuahua. The phone rings. Another woman and her daughter have returned to adopt Mira, a sweet lab cross. Adoption Coordinator Annette van der Walt fills out the adoption paperwork and arranges for Mira to be micro-chipped. A young man fills out the forms for a spay/neuter voucher and asks to see some puppies. The phone rings again. A woman stops by to look at a German shepherd newly released to the adoption floor. A family drops off 10 boxes of dog biscuits as a donation. A FOTAS Board member drops by to discuss a potential fundraiser with Shelter Manager Martha Chadwick. A man walks into the lobby with a cat in a crate to be surrendered to the shelter. The phone continues to ring.

In the middle of it all – the staff, the customers, the phones, the dogs, the cats – Pat Ludwig and Paul Tallent, the FOTAS volunteers on desk duty, take it all in stride with a smile and an offer to help everyone who walks through the door. They are unflappable.

“We do a little of everything,” says Pat, who has been manning the front desk on Wednesday afternoons with Paul for about a year. “We answer phones, take folks back to the adoption area, help Annette with paperwork if she’s backed up, answer questions. All it takes is a little patience and a willingness to listen.”

“Plus,” says Paul with an easy smile and a twinkle in his eye, “a sense of humor always helps.”

Paul and Pat are two of a group of committed FOTAS volunteers who work the desk in the front lobby.  According to Annette van der Walt, the front desk volunteers play a crucial role.

“They are on the front lines – the first face the public encounters when they walk through the door. Their demeanor and presentation sets the tone in the lobby during those busy times,” says Annette, “so good people skills are a must.”

FOTAS volunteers Pat and Paul enjoy their time at the shelter. “I like being busy,” says Paul, “and I enjoy working with staff and other volunteers and especially with the people who come to the shelter looking to adopt. Nothing makes me happier than to see a happy person taking some lucky animal home to be loved and cherished.”

Pat agrees. “To see an animal and a person bond right in front of our eyes and go home full of hope and excitement, now that’s special. It always makes my day.”

FOTAS needs more volunteers to serve as ambassadors of the shelter. If you have ever considered helping us with this important work, now is the time. Call us at (803) 514-4313 or email us at You’ll be glad you did.

Their lives are in our hands.


February 2015

Total received=279 dogs and cats

Total adopted/transferred-=235 dogs and cats

Total euthanized 102 dogs and cats

Eutho rate-=37% lowest record to date for a normal February! Yay for the new shelter facility and staff


SYDNEY      Male, Beagle — 2 yrs old — 39 lbs — $70.00

BLUE     Male, Domestic Short Hair — 1 yr old — 7 lbs —  $35.00