Local Volunteers Are the Lifeblood of Aiken County Animal Shelter


By Bob Gordon, FOTAS Communications Director and Volunteer

The power of volunteering cannot be overstated. Not only is it rewarding and uplifting to the people donating their time for a good cause, but it also makes it possible for organizations to achieve more than they possibly could through their limited budgets and staff.

Nowhere is this truer than at the Aiken County Animal Shelter.

“Volunteers are our lifeblood,” said Nanci Santos, FOTAS volunteer coordinator. “We are so very grateful for the wonderful core group of volunteers that return daily or on committed days to walk dogs, socialize the animals, and act as reception desk ambassadors.”

Besides the daily tasks of walking the dogs and manning the front desk, volunteers also help with the FOTAS transfer program, manage and promote special events, help maintain the shelter grounds , aid with general administrative duties, assist with FOTAS spay/neuter programs and foster dogs and puppies.

Susie and Wally Huiet are a couple that volunteers for multiple shelter duties: dog walking, fostering and helping with the transfer program. Susie also takes photos of the dogs available for adoption and posts them on social media.

“When you give your time and your love to these dogs and enable them to be adopted or selected for a rescue transport, it is a great feeling,” Susie said.  “Every dog you can get adopted or rescued really means you are saving two lives, because one goes onto a new home and another is able to leave the intake building and get their chance on the adoption floor.”

Paula Neuroth has been juggling a number of volunteer responsibilities for years. She and her husband, Rod, have been fostering puppies and their mothers at their Aiken home since 2010. Paula also helps manage and coordinate FOTAS Fix-a-Pet, a spay/neuter program financed through private donations.

“There never will be a big enough staff at the shelter because of budget restrictions,” Paula explained. “But we as volunteers can provide support that helps the shelter achieve its goals and fill the gaps, and FOTAS helps fund programs that otherwise could not be realized.”

Peggy Babineau works the front desk every Monday afternoon, greeting and assisting shelter visitors with their adoption needs. She and her daughter, Becca, also foster new dogs each week, getting them socialized and more prepared for their eventual forever homes.

“Volunteering is rewarding beyond words,” Peggy said. “You can get attached to the dogs in your care. But you just have to focus on the goal of getting them ready to leave for a better life.”

As a result of the dedicated efforts of all our volunteers, FOTAS and the County are saving the lives of more animals than any time in the shelter’s past. But every day is a challenge and more help is always needed. If you are interested in volunteering and making a difference, please contact FOTAS at (803) 514-4313 or volunteer@fotasaiken.org.

Their lives are in our hands.