The FOTAS board opened its first meeting of 2013 welcoming Councilwoman Kathy Rawls, the new shelter's greatest champion and FOTAS' biggest advocate on County Council. She joined the board as an ex-officio member, adding renewed life to the partnership we have built with the county over 3 years.

Rawls' quiet humility belies her confidence and competence as a fiercely dedicated public servant. She is the lynch-pin between FOTAS' vision and Aiken County's resolve to see the new county shelter become a reality. County Council will soon hire the building's contractor.

Following that good news, board spirits were further buoyed by the year-end financial report. Not only has FOTAS more than tripled its revenue each year for the last three years, but we are also well on our way to reaching the mid-point milestone of our “Capital Campaign.”

2013 is a year dedicated to raising more than half a million dollars for the new shelter. The money will pay for nearly everything that is not concrete or steel.

These essentials will help assure that our community shelter can care for the animals, support its staff and inspire the gratitude and involvement of the public it serves.

Last Monday, the six board members addressed the challenge of raising the necessary funds, while expressing sincere gratitude for every contribution, no matter the size.

There will be so many ways for the public – individuals, families, clubs and businesses – to help and then see themselves, or those they love, immortalized in the new building project. The Capital Campaign Committee anxiously anticipates the ground-breaking ceremony, perhaps as early as next month.

Money is only one indicator of our progress. Look at our “By the numbers.” Intake is down, and transfers and adoptions are up.

With County Animal Control, FOTAS has continued to grow our transfer program and the targeted spay/neuter assistance program, SNAP.

We are working to expand our foster care for puppies and transfer candidates and are recruiting more volunteers to work with the adoptable pets.

FOTAS will launch our “Year of the Shelter” with two new board members – Charlie Timmerman and Edie Hubler.

A practicing vet in Aiken for nearly 43 years, if you haven't heard of Timmerman, you must not be around pets. Raised on a South Carolina cattle farm, the way he learned to feel about animals is “You are a part of them, and they are a part of you.” With FOTAS, Dr. Charlie will continue to give his mind new places to feed and his heart new places to care.

Hubler is an organizer. After 25 years with IBM and another 16 in real estate, she “retired” to Aiken and started volunteering. Hubler toured the county shelter and knew she had to get involved. This year she led the Woofstock Festival and doubled its revenue.

FOTAS is an all-volunteer organization. The dedication of our volunteers is incredible; ask anyone. Among other things, we are helping our county build a new animal shelter. Join us. We are a great team to be part of!

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

Aiken County Animal Shelter: PROGRESS “By the Numbers”

2011 -> 2012 Change

Intake 5,317 4,745 -572

Adopted 762 839 +77

Transferred 355 704 +349

Euthanized 3,973 3,564 -409

All adoptions price for the rest of the year!