Overpopulation, abandoned animals and the miracle of Poppy


By Joanna D. Samson, FOTAS Vice President

When Aiken County Animal Control picked up Poppy roaming a County road on the blistering hot Tuesday after the July 4th holiday, she was thirsty, stressed from the heat, and very, very pregnant. A finely boned, black lab cross, she was collarless with a string tied around her neck – some wretched owner’s pathetic and cruel attempt to tie her to a stationary object and abandon her to the elements.

There are so many things wrong with this story, I don’t know where to start. I’m stunned that someone would abandon a pregnant mama dog in the heat of summer rather than take responsibility for the dog they should have spayed in the first place – that a family pet could be abandoned with such callous disregard, like litter tossed out on a road.

Do I sound angry and indignant? I am.

Poppy was one of 50, that’s right, 50, animals taken into the Aiken County Animal Shelter that Tuesday – a heartbreaking record for a single day, even in the summer. And despite FOTAS and the County’s notable successes over the past two years to find forever homes for more animals through special programs, increased adoptions and transfers to no-kill sister rescue agencies in other parts of the Country, the euthanasia rate will never be reduced to acceptable levels until every citizen, every friend, every family member, every neighbor spays and neuters their pets.

We have a responsibility to care for these animals, individually and as a community. They cannot take care of themselves. FOTAS Fix-a-Pet and FOTAS’ Lenny’s Brigade program (our trap-neuter-release program for community cats) have been in overdrive this year, especially during these long, hot summer months. We are particularly grateful to Dr. Holly Woltz (Veterinary Services), Dr. Cindy Brown (Aiken Animal Hospital), and Dr. Charles Groover (Aiken Veterinary Clinic) for their much-needed assistance with our spay/neuter programs. We couldn’t do this without them.

FOTAS desperately needs your help to continue to provide this much-needed service at the current rates; through July, we organized and paid for the spay/neutering of 349 pets and community cats, and every week we are barraged with requests for spay/neuter help. Please take a moment to donate to the cause either through the FOTAS website – www.fotasaiken.org – or mail a check to POB 2207, Aiken SC 29802.

As it turns out, Poppy was one of the lucky ones. She was so pregnant, the Shelter staff and FOTAS moved quickly to get her into a foster home, calling the Conger-Wolcotts (who, by the way, had been pressed into puppy-birthing foster service non-stop for 6 months) for help. One week later, Poppy gave birth to 9 puppies. Next week, those 8-week old puppies will be transferred and placed in their forever homes. Poppy, who is heartworm positive, will remain in foster care while FOTAS funds her treatment and finds her a loving, responsible owner. Her days of neglect are over.

Please help. Their lives are in our hands.