F.O.T.A.S. is how Aiken County Animal Control spells animal advocacy and gives new meaning to Public-Private Partnership.

Last weekend, FOTAS represented our county shelter among many community nonprofits at the 2012 Fall Steeplechase. With the help of South Aiken Serteens, we educated the public about our foster, transfer and adoption programs and opportunities to volunteer. Four dogs found new homes as a result of our presence. It was a breezy, glorious day!

On Saturday, FOTAS brings back the Woofstock Festival of Mutts and Music at Highfields, kicked off by the Mutt Strut relay and fundraiser. Get people to sponsor you, your dog, your family; raise $100, $200 or $300 and be eligible for great prizes.

The superstars that raise $300 by Saturday are entered to win the 64G, cellular, wifi iPad tablet, plus get the T-shirts, prizes, and have a blast with their dog, family, friends’ dogs or all of the above. Virtual Walkers can raise money, too. Three hundred dollars by Saturday gets your name in the hat to win.

Of course you don’t have to raise money to participate. A whole family and all their dogs can parade in the Woofstock Mutt Strut for $25, or one adult for $10, child under 12 for $5.

Once you have the dogs out, you might want to see if they are the Best Kisser, can perform the Best Trick or are sporting the Best Costume. Register for those three contests between 11 a.m. and noon at Woofstock.

Three student judges won their titles by entering the Woofstock Essay Contest and answering the question, “What can we do about all the unwanted puppies and kittens?”

Sophia Frank, Christian Madden and Sofia Ferreira will be helping to select the winners of the dog contests: Best Kisser (11:30), Best Trick (noon) and Best Costume (12:30).

Even if you are not participating in the Mutt Strut Relay and walking for Aiken County’s homeless pets, you can come out for the contests or just come out and have a blast, with or without a dog.

The Woofstock Festival, a day full of family fun, food, and music, is a huge community event made possible by volunteers, local clubs and businesses and the residents of Aiken County who love their animals. Every dollar raised, after expenses, will go toward our new county shelter.

The vision for the new Aiken County Animal Shelter is a happy, healthy place that is the heart of a responsible, animal-loving county.

If you are unavailable Saturday, consider becoming an approved county shelter foster home. Unfortunately, the need for temporary guardians for puppies and kittens and dogs waiting to be transferred north is constant. Contact the County Shelter or go online to get an application.

There are so many, many ways you can help FOTAS help our Aiken County Animal Services provide our community with a great animal shelter.

We can’t do it without you, and you may find the most rewarding commitment you’ve ever made – spelled F.O.T.A.S.

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