Since we opened our new facility last September, it seems like each week gets busier and more exciting than the previous one. This week we are just beginning, and it is starting off the same way.

Our medical team members spent last week in Asheville, N.C., training with the Humane Alliance team ( enhancing their skills as we recently moved into our new regional high-quality, high-volume spay and neuter clinic. This week, Humane Alliance personnel will join us in Aiken to put what they taught us into effect in our clinic.

Our two long-term veterinarians will soon be joined by two new part-time veterinarians who will help us expand the days we perform surgeries, as well as the numbers we can do each day. Growing from last year’s record of a little more than 2,500 surgeries to our new capacity of 18,000 surgeries will take time and effort, but we are quickly building momentum. When at full capacity, the number of surgeries will have a very large impact in reducing unplanned litters of puppies and kittens coming into shelters throughout the entire CSRA.

To help raise funds for some of these surgeries and bring more awareness to the issue, you’ll continue to see more “Yards of the Mutts” all around Aiken County as our staff and volunteers work to spread the message about the importance of spay and neuter services as part of the overall animal welfare plans in our community. If you would like to participate and have a “litter” in your front yard to raise awareness and funds to help provide low cost spay/neuter services to our community, please call us at 648-6863.

Today we’ll also be offering a tour of our new facility to an animal welfare professional from Charlotte, N.C. This is probably about the 20th tour we’ve been asked to provide since opening our doors. We are proud of the facility our wonderful donors allowed us to build, and each tour allows other groups throughout Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina to take back information to make improvements to their current facilities or give them more motivation to construct one of their own.

Adoptions have been going along well since we opened our new facility, too. If this is just an average week for us, we’ll find new homes for about 13 dogs and cats this week. As we always stay full, that will allow us to bring in that many more stray dogs and cats from the City of Aiken, Aiken County shelter or from citizens who can’t keep their animals any longer.

Finally, to “share the love” during Valentine’s week, we are going to offer an adoption special aimed at bringing in love to your home during this week. Since Valentine’s Day always falls on Feb. 14, the first 14 adult dogs and cats adopted Tuesday through Saturday of this week will only have a $14 adoption fee! Once we reach adoption 15, adoption fees will remain at half price for the rest of the adult dogs and cats this week, which is only $37.50. As always, adoption fees always include age appropriate shot and microchipping, and your new love will be spayed or neutered. Hopefully we’ll have a record week of adoptions, which will allow us to transfer in even more wonderful stray dogs and cats next week.

As always, we are so grateful to the thousands of CSRA citizens who helped us build our new facility, who have already adopted, volunteered, continue to donate and help raise awareness to animal welfare issue throughout our part of the world. Busy weeks are a great sign that we are moving in the right direction.

To learn more how to help, please give us a call or stop on by our facility at 199 Willow Run Road in Aiken, Mondays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Gary Willoughby is the President and CEO of the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare