On Nov. 30, a FOTAS volunteer was approached about spaying a “neighborhood dog” by a gentleman from Perry. Of course, the dog was already pregnant.


“Do you want to lose the pups?” asked the volunteer.


With a pained expression, the man assured the volunteer that they would likely find homes for the pups. The woman bit her tongue and handed the man her card.


The call came six weeks later. There were eight puppies; only one had been adopted.


It took three days to recover the others from under an abandoned building they called home.


In the process, one of the young men who helped in the capture asked if he could add six pups he had at home. Their mother had died.


Arriving at the County Shelter with the 13 pups, the volunteer was told that all of the foster homes were full, and there were 35 puppies back in the shelter pens.


The lucky 13 were wormed, given their shots and went home with the volunteer to be fostered until they could be transferred up north.


The fate of the other 35 was far less promising.


Two mother dogs, 14 puppies, let’s say half are female and that each has seven pups.


If half of those are female, and they have pups, in one more generation there will be 1,715 dogs, most of which will be unwanted, lead short miserable lives and continue to breed.


We cannot impound, rescue, foster, adopt or transfer our way out of this reality. Fortunately, a magnificent confluence of events offers a better option.


It began last August when FOTAS launched our first targeted spay/neuter assistance program (SNAP) in Wagener with a tiny grant from Pawmetto Lifeline in Columbia.


When those funds ran out, the Aiken SPCA picked up the program, and by Dec. 1, we had spayed and neutered 160-plus cats and dogs.


A couple of weeks ago, FOTAS and Aiken County Animal Control presented the SNAP model to Mayor C.H. Williams in Burnettown, one of the county’s trouble spots for unwanted animals.


Like the Wagener mayor, Mayor Williams was enthusiastic about the program and eagerly offered his office and staff to assist.


This week, the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare opened its new clinic with the potential to perform 18,000 spay/neuter surgeries a year.


FOTAS has already identified an area coordinator for the Burnettown program. Stacey Fincher, owner of Palmetto Pups in Warrenville, has offered everything short of doing the surgeries herself to bring this badly needed service to the Valley. (Information will be released in February for the start-up in March.)


Gary Willoughby, in his column last Tuesday, arrived at the same point we do here: We need your support to realize the potential of the incredible opportunity.


The missing piece is money. You can donate to FOTAS-SNAP or the SPCA spay and neuter fund. Or, if you have the skills, help FOTAS apply for grant funding for SNAP and Lennie’s Brigade, our feral cat project.


Together, we can see that no adoptable pet has to die unloved.


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