The endless flow of homeless animals at the County Shelter

By Joanna Dunn Samson, FOTAS Vice President

Yesterday, the Aiken County Animal Shelter participated in the National Clear the Shelter Day for the second time. By all accounts, the day was an awesome success, and for a few short moments in the afternoon, the Shelter was blissfully empty and quiet.

It won’t last. It can’t last. Summer intake is out of control. In a single week this month, 186 animals were admitted to the Shelter…186 animals! Do the math. At that rate, thirty-one animals a day, every day, need to be adopted to keep up with that staggering intake. Not likely, not in a community this size.

Summer is always tough at the County Shelter. While the rest of the world settles into the sleepy tempo of summer, FOTAS volunteers and County staff shift into hyper-drive to address the inevitable onslaught of puppies, kittens and owner-surrender animals that crowd the intake wing and stress county resources.

These animals come primarily from the County, and generally intake is roughly equal between strays and citizen-surrendered animals. In the summer months, however, the number of citizen-surrendered animals doubles between the people who surrender their pets to the Shelter when they go on vacation and the people who didn’t fix their pets and dump the puppies or kittens at the Shelter for the rest of us to take care of. Unspeakably sad, unthinkably heartless, but true nevertheless.

Over the past year, the County and FOTAS, with the help of the community, has made great strides in saving more animals and reducing the euthanasia rate, but until rampant overpopulation is checked and the horrifying intake numbers come down (a 10-year proposition under the best of circumstances, according to most experts), our goal of never having to euthanize another adoptable animal is out of reach.

In the meantime, the County Shelter, with the help of FOTAS, is responsible for the care and disposition of the 4600-5000 unwanted animals each year. Paid for with taxpayer dollars, the County Shelter has a legal obligation to accept all comers – it cannot refuse to accept an animal because there isn’t enough room.

It’s like sweeping back the ocean with a broom, especially during the summer months.

How can you help?

First and foremost, spay or neuter your animals, and urge all the people in your universe—friends, family, and people you come into contact with at work, at the grocery store, and at the drug store—to spay and neuter their animals. If you or they cannot afford the cost to spay/neuter, you may be eligible for County or FOTAS financial assistance.

Help us take care of the animals – volunteer at the shelter.

Become a short-term foster for dogs selected for transfer or a long-term foster for mama dogs and their puppies and mama cats and their kittens until they are weaned and rehomed.

Make a tax-free donation to the cause at

Most of all—adopt! For every animal you adopt or foster, you save two lives – every time an animal moves out of the Shelter, another animal can be moved to the adoption floor.

Call us at (803) 514-4313 or email us at and see how you can get involved. You won’t be sorry.

Their lives are in our hands.

By the Numbers
August adoption specials: Cats/Kittens $10, Dogs/Puppies $35


Pets of the Week

IRMA: Terrier/Beagle mix, female, 1-1/2 years old, white with black, 22 pounds – $35
LOUIE: Domestic Shorthair kitten, male, 1-1/2 months old, gray and white, 2 pounds - $10
LOUIE: Domestic Shorthair kitten, male, 1-1/2 months old, gray and white, 2 pounds – $10