The Aiken County Animal Shelter, FOTAS and the Code Red dogs thank you


By Joanna D. Samson, FOTAS VP

Once again, the Aiken community has responded to our cries for help.

As the temperatures soared to triple digits, so did the intake numbers at the County Shelter – to a dismal degree not experienced in years. In June the number of homeless, orphaned and abandoned animals topped at 625 animals, and July promises to be equally bad. In fact, in a single hot day after the 4th of July holiday, the shelter took in 50 animals.

The dogs were crowded 2-3 in a run in the Intake Wing, and the shelter was forced to consider something it has not had to face since the new shelter has been open – euthanizing animals who had been on the adoption floor the longest to make room for other adoptable animals from Intake.

“It is heartbreaking,” says Jennifer Miller, the President of FOTAS. “We had hoped those days were over.”

To those of you who follow this column, it will come as no surprise that the Code Red dogs – the dogs that had been on the adoption floor the longest – were all what we call “pibbles”, that is bully breed or pit bull crosses. Every one of them was a volunteer favorite: sweet lab/bull dog Alana with the soft brown eyes and white stripe down her nose; the handsome, muscular black and white Mack; the playful brindle Brees with two white front socks and maybe the world’s longest tongue; beautiful, ice cream-loving Roberta; magnificent little Milo with the hopeful eyes; big ol’ beautiful Butch.

“The bully breeds are saddled with a bad reputation,” says Miller, “primarily because of disreputable owners. There is nothing inherently dangerous about these dogs; they are devoted people lovers. Cesar Millan says ‘A breed is like a suit of clothes, it doesn’t tell you anything about the dog inside.’”

And here’s the thing about the pibbles at the Aiken County Animal Shelter – by the time they make it to the adoption floor, they have been observed by shelter staff for up to 10 days (or longer when the adoption floor is full) and have passed a rigorous temperament test. Moreover, once they are on the adoption floor, the volunteers or trainers work with them every day. Since these breeds take longer to adopt than other breeds, staff and volunteers have had longer to work with them and assess their behavior. Point being, we know they are safe dogs.

The good news is that thanks to the Aiken Standard and the community, by the end of the week, Alana, Milo, Brees, Mack, Roberta, Zach and all of the other Code Red dogs had found forever homes.

The bad news is, our collective job is not done – there are so many more lovable, deserving pibbles on the adoption floor, like Destiny, Rhett, Bane, Gigi and Joshua, who need good homes, not to mention those animals in the Intake Wing just waiting for a chance to move to the adoption floor.

Please don’t wait. Come and adopt one today, before they become Code Red dogs. Plus, for every dog adopted, another dog from Intake gets a chance to move to the adoption floor and find its forever home. That’s two lives for one, folks. How great is that?

Their lives are in our hands.