What a joy for Sandy Larsen, senior vet yech at the Aiken County Animal Shelter, to arrive at work early on Monday morning and hear on the answering machine, “I saw this dog on Channel 12. This is my number. ... I got to have this dog.”

It starts her week off right.

Sandy has been getting up at 4 a.m. every Monday for almost five years now so that she can give one more animal a chance to find a forever home.

WRDW Channel 12 has a segment called “Take Me Home” featuring adoptable pets in need of good homes. Our Aiken County Shelter pets star on Monday mornings at about 6:20 a.m.

You may see a cat, dog, puppy or kitten. Sandy said she tries to pick the animal that has been there the longest and that has the personality for this opportunity. She has learned to avoid the hyperactive ones.

“Once I took this young black lab, and he got so excited when he saw Tim the meteorologist that he ripped the button off Tim’s jacket,” she said.

Although there has been recurring turnover among the anchorwomen, Tim and Sandy have been doing this spot together since the beginning. One time Tim did the whole weather segment with the kitten Sandy brought on his shoulder.

On Saturdays, Sandy and Denise, one of FOTAS’ volunteer coordinators, have a game they play in anticipation of Monday’s potential “star.”

“Who are you going to take this week?” asks Denise. Sandy picks a candidate.

More often than not, that animal is adopted before the shelter closes on Saturday, and Sandy must choose again. It is her turn to spend time one-on-one with an animal.

“It may sound crazy,” she said, “but you’d be amazed at how much I can learn about a pet in the time it takes me to get them out of the kennel, walk them to do their business, ride to the station and then wait to go on.”

She learns if they are housebroken, how they do on a leash, how they ride in a vehicle and how they deal with strangers and new situations. She appears with them like a proud coach.

The whole process pulls at Sandy’s heart. She wonders if they think they are going home when they get in the truck. She recalls a dog called Amanda, “She sat close, put her paw on my lap and just looked out the window the whole way.”

Sandy swears that when these animals go on TV, it is like they know it is their time to show what a wonderful pet they can be. But you don’t have to take her word for it. Go to WRDW.com, click on “community” and then “Take Me Home.” You may still see Uggy offering his belly in the lower right corner of the screen.

Sandy and the shelter staff love to hear, “I saw this dog on Monday morning; do you still have it?” Check it out.

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

Aiken County Animal Shelter: “By the Numbers”

September 3rd thru 9th Received: 57 dogs and 30 cats

Adopted: 7 dogs and 3 catsPut down: 31 dogs and 36 cats

Aiken County Animal Shelter “Pets of the Week!” So much LOVE for so little $$!

(See .jpg attachments for photos).

ANNABELLE – Yellow Lab mix. $yrs. This dog is a doll on and off leash. $70 includes the love!

ORLANDO – 1yr. This elegant gentleman will be a soothing companion. $35, purr-FREE!

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