Joyous Smiles, Giggles, and Coos

By Ellie Joos, FOTAS Volunteer

Bright eyes and lots of smiles were the order of the day at the new Aiken County Animal Shelter one recent Saturday. Eight young children from Helping Hands of Aiken were visiting.  Sharon Reeves and I, both FOTAS volunteers, had the pleasure of hosting this wonderful group. There is nothing like a rolly polly puppy or a sweet and fluffy kitten to delight a child.

Our young visitors, ages 6 through 12, toured the new dog adoption wing and the “cat house”.  My group sat on the floor of the cat building playing with several of the fluffy kittens, taking turns holding and cuddling with them. The children all agreed, Tiffany was their favorite, though really they liked them all. Next we moved on to the dog adoption building and even the most timid child wanted to feed treats to the dogs in their kennels. One curious young boy wondered how the dogs ended up in the shelter. I explained that many were found wandering the streets and that the FOTAS volunteers here love them, care for them, and play with them. Not knowing what the particular situation is for each of these children, Sharon and I knew we needed to be gentle in our approach.

The children were terrific listeners and as part of the introduction to the dogs, I told the m that we needed to clean our hands in between touching each dog. They were so good and reminded me of this often as we moved from one dog pod to the other!

Next it was puppy time, and the children sat on a bench as I took a bundle of fur from her kennel to spend quality kid time. One by one, each child held the puppy, while cooing and cuddling. We picked out a sweet dog that needed a little walk. In this case, we selected one of my favorites, Sky, a boxer mix that has one brown eye and one blue eye.  We took her out on her leash and she enjoyed showing them how she sits patiently waiting for her treats.

My group then joined Sharon’s group in the conference room for what else but animal crackers and apple juice. I’m sure the children would have liked if one or two of the animals could have joined us for this snack. A number of children wanted to know if they could help volunteer too.  I had brought a book from home, Go Dog, Go, and one little girl volunteered to read it to the others while they enjoyed their goodies.

As the children left the shelter to return to their residence, I couldn’t help but feeling how great it was to have this new clean, welcoming County Animal Shelter for events like this, to see how a furry animal can make a difference in a child’s day.

Now that the new shelter is up and running, we are planning other events that will expand our visibility and mission of FOTAS. Our next event will be a Doggie Alumni Social on June 28th, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. Did you adopt a dog from the shelter? Join us for a few hours of socializing, playing, treats and a commemorative photo. To RSVP, check out our web site  for all of the details or call 803-514-4313.

About Helping Hands:  Helping Hands is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization with the mission of enriching the quality of life and well-being of children, youth and families in need through a continuum of residential and community-based services in order to improve their health, independent living skills, educational outcomes, and/or resilience.

FOTAS Volunteers work with the AIKEN COUNTY ANIMAL SHELTER, 333 Wire Road.  For more information, contact “” or visit FOTAS on line at




                           JAN. 2014 – APR. 2014        JAN. 2013 – APR. 2013

Received                      1088 dogs & cats                  1352 dogs & cats

Adopted/Transferred     572 dogs & cats                     528 dogs & cats

Euthanized                    616 dogs & cats                     834 dogs & cats



**All adoption fees include:  spay/neuter, heartworm test, all shots, worming, and microchip.