War Stories and the Heartbreaking Sounds of Surrendered Animals

By Joanna Dunn Samson, FOTAS Director

Summer is a hard time for the Aiken County Animal Shelter. Aside from the beastly heat, the number of animals at the shelter skyrockets during the summer.

This summer is no exception. Last Wednesday, by 3:00 in the afternoon, eight surrendered animals were lined up in crates outside the intake building waiting for a space to open up. It was 95 degrees outside.

Inside, up to 5 dogs are housed in one kennel run in the intake wing because the intake numbers are so high. The shelter accepted 534 animals in may, and the June numbers will be equally as dismal.

Where do they come from? From the County, the City, Edgefield county, occasionally private rescue agencies already filled to capacity, but primarily, they come from private citizens. In May alone, 322 animals were citizen-surrendered—twice as many as in the winter months.

Why so many surrenders this time of year? Are you ready for this?

Vacations! Can you believe it? There are people in this world who choose to surrender their pets to the county shelter when they go on vacation—people who consign their confused and trusting pets to the stress of a shelter environment and an uncertain future—rather than make proper arrangements for their care.

I am haunted by this callous disregard for the welfare of helpless animals.

No question, the solution to this gross overcrowding is to reduce overpopulation through a rigorous spay/neuter program.

Experts estimate that 75% of the pet population must be spayed/neutered in order to see a significant reduction in intake numbers. For that reason, fotas focuses its spay/neuter activities in Wagener, which is a county hot spot for overpopulation, and will continue to do so until we see a difference in the numbers.

Moreover, the county allocates $30,000 for low cost spay/neuter vouchers, and FOTAS supplements that program as well. FOTAS has also raised approximately $20,000 for spay/neuter services through its Woofstock festival and the SPCA’s twilight walk.

In the past 18 months, FOTAS paid the SPCA – Albrecht Center approximately $20,000 to spay and neuter 292 citizen-owned cats and dogs and 238 community cats in its state-of-the-art clinic.

Is it enough? Of course not—it’s never enough. But here’s the thing.

Someone has to be responsible for the 4800 unwanted animals that end up at the county shelter each year, and that someone is the county, with the help of FOTAS.

The county shelter does not have the luxury of refusing to accept an animal because it doesn’t have enough room. Paid for with taxpayer dollars, it has a legal obligation to accept all comers. Quite frankly, it feels like sweeping back the ocean with a broom.

Although the County and FOTAS are making great strides in saving more animals and reducing the euthanasia rate, until rampant overpopulation is checked and the appalling intake numbers come down, our goal of never having to euthanize another adoptable animal is out of reach.

How can you help?

Volunteer at the shelter.

Foster dogs and puppies until they can be weaned and rehomed.

Make a tax-free donation to the cause at www.Fotasaiken.Org.

Most of all: adopt one of the deserving animals in the adoption wing. For every animal you adopt, you save two lives—the pet you adopted and the pet that can be moved to the adoption floor from intake.

Plus, if you adopt before July 28, adoption fees have been reduced by half —$35 for dogs and $17 for cats—so come on over.


Gina American Bulldog—female, 2 yrs old, 38 lbs. Only $35 

Clark Catahoula Leopoard Dog—male, 2 yrs old, 45 lbs. Only $35