By Joanna Dunn Samson, FOTAS Director
On a sunny day in April, FOTAS volunteers Dottie Grant, Colleen Timmerman and FOTAS board member, Charlie Timmerman, set out on a mission of kindness, practicality and community service: collect 12 dogs of various sizes and breeds from a disabled man in the County and transport them to the SPCA surgical center to be spayed and neutered.
They loaded 12 crates into Charlie’s horse van and headed out.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” says Colleen. “Would the dogs be friendly? Would we be able to catch them? Would they be crazed and anxious once they were crated? So we came prepared with sedatives, muzzles and gloves.”
Their fears were unfounded. All 12 dogs were friendly and easy to catch. They went quietly into their crates and settled down for the journey to the clinic.
By the way, it is not an accident these dogs are well mannered and friendly—the man has loved and cared and doted over them for years. Permanently disabled in a car accident in his early 20’s, the dogs are an important part of his life, giving his days purpose and joy.
He just didn’t have the resources to spay and neuter them.
That’s when FOTAS got involved. FOTAS agreed to organize the pickup and delivery of his dogs to the clinic to be spayed and neutered, fund the cost of the surgery, and take them home.
FOTAS is an all-volunteer organization funded entirely by the generosity of private donors. Virtually every dime of the money raised by FOTAS through its website, annual solicitations and special events go directly to support the County shelter, supplement the County’s low cost spay/neuter voucher program, and fund its spay/neuter programs, Lenny’s Brigade and FOTAS Fix-a-Pet.
In the past 16 months, FOTAS organized the pickup, delivery and return of 342 dogs and cats and paid for their surgeries.
That is in addition to funding shelter needs to supplement the County’s resources for the thousands of animals consigned to the County’s care annually – items such as fencing and sod for the exercise yards, an irrigation system to maintain the sod, crates for dogs in foster and for transport, a new nozzle for the wash tub, a hot water heater for the cat house, climbing stations for the cat colony, immune booster supplements, flea and tick sprays and shampoos, toys, identification bands, treats, collars, leases, supplemental vet care and medications, to name a few.
“It is an overwhelming amount of work to care for and attempt to find homes for the thousands of animals (4800 last year) consigned to the County shelter and to wage war on the County’s overpopulation of animals,” says Jennifer Miller, the President of FOTAS. “It’s like sweeping back the ocean with a broom. It would not be possible without the financial support from the community and the volunteers—they are the ones that make it all happen.”
So, back to the story of the 12 dogs – the next day, after all 12 dogs had been surgically fixed, Dottie, Colleen and Charlie loaded the dogs back up in the horse van and took them home. The man was waiting in the yard.
“When we opened the crates,” says Colleen, “the dogs rushed to the man and danced around him, tails wagging. They were so excited to be home. As we pulled out, the man was all smiles, hugging his dogs and laughing.”
Her voice cracks.
“It was really a good day.”