On the Move: the Spiffy New FOTAS Van Saves Lives

14 September 2014

ON THE MOVE -- New FOTAS Van Saves Lives

By Joanna Dunn Samson, FOTAS Director

Summers are hard at the Aiken County Animal Shelter. As temperatures soar, so do the intake numbers for homeless animals.  As temperatures soar, so do the intake numbers for homeless animals. When that happens, a sense of urgency grips shelter staff and FOTAS volunteers – as many adoptable animals as possible must be moved out of the shelter quickly to make room for the hundreds of other dogs and cats abandoned, picked up as strays or surrendered by their owners.

It’s deadly serious and grueling business, trying to save all those lives, and FOTAS and its army of dedicated volunteers are busy.

Last week Larry Mitchell drove 15 adoptable shelter dogs to a partner rescue in South Carolina that will care for them until they have found new homes.

FOTAS volunteer Ellie Joos and her husband Bill take adoptable animals downtown on Thursday nights to the Farmer’s Market.

Heather Wiseman, the FOTAS Off-Site Adoption Coordinator, held an off-site adoption event last Saturday at Ladd Britt Auto Sales, a FOTAS corporate supporter who invited FOTAS to bring the animals to their business in the hopes of finding them new homes with their customers and employees.

Girl Conger, another long time FOTAS volunteer, transported adoptable shelter animals to PetSmart for a recent in-store adoption event.

And there are many more off-site events planned in the upcoming months.

For example, on September 22nd, Girl will take adoptable animals to the Play Fore the Pets golf tournament at Hounds Lake Country Club.

In October, Girl and Heather will also take adoptable animals to the Chocolate Festival at St. Mary’s and to the Blessing of the Animals at St. Paul Lutheran Church.

As you can see, saving more animals takes a lot of moving around, travel, securing the animals in their crates and properly loading the crates for safe transport. In the past, that meant FOTAS volunteers had to strap crates into the back seats and cargo holds of their personal cars and trucks to make trip.

But not anymore.  Thanks to the generous donation of Trout Farms, FOTAS has a brand new, highly functional, easy to drive High Top Cargo Van to haul its precious cargo.

Everyone loves the new van.  Girl Conger says it’s easy to drive, and unlike hauling a trailer, anyone can drive it.

“It’s also easily recognizable,” says Girl.  “When I pull into the parking lot at PetSmart, people smile and wave. They come over to the van to talk and check out the animals.

Bill Joos says it’s easy to maneuver down the narrow downtown streets and alleys, easy to park, and easy to load and unload the animals.

Assistant County Administrator Andy Merriman is also thrilled.

“For years,” says Merriman, “the Aiken County Animal Shelter has needed a practical vehicle capable of easily transporting its animals to offsite adoption events, as well as meeting other routine day-to-day transport needs so critical to our ability to save more shelter animals.  We are deeply grateful to our partner FOTAS and to Trout Farms for making that happen. It’s a godsend.”

Yes, it is.

By the way, if you have been thinking about volunteering your time, please don’t wait.  Come by the new County animal shelter on 333 Wire Road and fill out a volunteer application.

You can also call the FOTAS hotline at (803) 514-4313 or email us at info@fotasaiken.org.

The lives of all those animals are in our hands.