It is sometimes called the “Butterfly Effect.” Coming from chaos theory, it suggests that small changes can provoke huge outcomes: a butterfly fans its wings in Brazil and causes a tornado in Texas. In FOTAS, we call it magic, the kind that comes from seizing the opportunity to do a good thing.

Take the volunteer who saw what she thought was a cruelty case, reported it to Animal Control and FOTAS. It turned out that a family with disabled sons was down on their luck and loved their pets, especially the already challenged young men. Calls were made; donations and small grants secured, and all of the pets were vaccinated and altered at the Aiken SPCA.

That’s only one family, but potentially hundreds fewer unwanted cats and dogs. The effect ripples out.

Last winter, one of our regular volunteers received a notice from Pawmetto Lifeline in Columbia about a new opportunity they were exploring to expand spay/neuter services in the Midlands. FOTAS could compete as a rescue organization to win a sizeable spay/neuter grant by raising funds for the huge fundraiser, “Bark to the Park” in Columbia.

The opportunity ignited enthusiasm in our volunteers and supporters across the United States and even England. The dollars poured into Team FOTAS Aiken County, and we won. In May, Pawmetto Lifeline notified FOTAS that the grant would apply to Pawmetto Lifeline’s brand new clinic for spay/neuter.

FOTAS decided to apply the grant to a targeted area in Aiken County, one closest to Columbia. Last Wednesday, a pilot project began in the Wagener district, including Salley, Perry, New Holland and Kitchings Mill. If it proves successful, the program will be adjusted and replicated in other targeted communities throughout Aiken County.

Unwanted cats and dogs are heartbreaking for anyone who cares about animals. Their brief, miserable lives sometimes end humanely, but always tragically. Even well-loved pets that are not altered must endure their bodies’ incessant demand to breed without relief, and the health risk-factors that accompany it.

They are also costly. Aiken County Animal Shelter alone receives more than 5,000 unwanted cats and dogs every year. Nearly 4,000 die there. And that does not include the cities of Aiken or North Augusta or all the puppies, kittens, dogs and cats that are road kill, hawk bait or shot for being a nuisance.

Comprehensive spay/neuter is essential to the solution.

On Wednesday morning, Wagener Town Hall opened its doors to an onslaught of people eager to have their pets altered. FOTAS “Targeted SNAP” (Spay Neuter Assistance Program) is a pilot program that will run through the middle of October. The first 75 animals (approx) are guaranteed the surgery for as little as $7 per pet. The remainder of applicants will determine follow-on efforts.

FOTAS plans to partner with Aiken County Animal Control, the Aiken SPCA and the Wagener community to develop an ongoing program for Wagener, as well as other targeted communities in Aiken County.

Make your donations to FOTAS SNAP.

FOTAS volunteers work with the Aiken County Animal Shelter, 411 Wire Road. For more information, email or visit

Aiken County Animal Shelter: “By the Numbers”

For July 23 - 29, 2012 ?Received: 49 dogs and 57 cats

Adopted: 8 dogs, 7 cats  Euthanized: 38 dogs and 14 cats

 Aiken County Shelter “Pets of the Week” are HALF PRICE*!

(See .jpg attachments for photos).

CHLOE – 6yrs, Staffordshire Terrier mix. She is a happy, affectionate gal and a great pet. $35!

FIFI – Four month old female tabby. She is as interested in being your doll as she looks. $35

*All adoption fees include: Spay/Neuter, heartworm test, all shots, worming, and microchip and are half price thru 9/8/12!