Country music bounced off the cinder block walls in the “surgical closet” at the Aiken County Shelter the day we went to meet the “new” county veterinarian (who actually started the last week in October).


The assembly line for the surgeries that she performed began outside in the all-purpose laundry/prep/recovery/bathing/over-flow room, then into the “medications closet ,” where the next subject was anesthetized then swapped for the just-neutered patient on the table in front of Dr. Kim Smart.


Dark brown hair flowing around her shoulders, hands moving with efficient confidence over the patch of animal visible through the surgical drape, she said that she’s a “hometown girl,” when asked to talk about herself.


Kim Smart, DVM, grew up in an animal –loving family in Monetta, graduated from Clemson and then the University of Georgia in Athens. “She’s a local farm girl,” said an old colleague who used to meet teenager Kim in New Holland and ride her to the veterinary clinic in Aiken.


Kim still does surgeries at that same clinic where she helped out in high school and then worked summers through college. A charming fact is that her now renowned surgical competence began as the teenager who passed out cold at the first surgery she witnessed, hitting her head on the floor, and ending up in the emergency room.


It seems like Dr. Smart has dedicated herself to every spay/neuter opportunity that has presented itself in the county: “SOS,” ”Spay Day USA,” CSRA Lifesavers, a local clinic and the county shelter, and her exceptional surgical skills are the result. Everyone we spoke to remarked on her speed, skill and confidence.


The shelter staff continues to be happy to work with Kim. She drops in to the shelter every day and does a walk-through. And even though she has her own horses, dogs, cats, and 11-year-old daughter, a large animal practice, work with Lifesavers, the vet’s office and the county shelter, “She is willing to stop and talk to the person with a sick puppy…offer advice. She doesn’t fuss about the work load,” said one of the staff.


“She came in and didn’t change a lot,” they said, “If it’s not broke, let’s not fix it, was her approach.”


Other folks who have known and worked with Kim for years speak repeatedly of her compassion, also her confidence, and her logical pragmatic approach. She can be in the thick of a crisis or a complicated problem and make good choices, the kind that reassure and inspire confidence.


What better way to embark on “The Year of the Shelter,” than with a county veterinarian of Kim Smart’s caliber? She has seen the plans for the new shelter, and in her typically understated manner remarked that it will be “..a definite help all around—for the animals and mankind.”


FOTAS is delighted to welcome Doctor Kim as an integral part of our mission to support County Services to our communities and our homeless animals. Please give generously to this cause.


FOTAS Volunteers work with the Aiken County Animal Shelter, 411 Wire Road. For more information, contact info@fotasaiken.org or visit FOTAS on line at www.fotasaiken.org.