A family moves into a mobile home out in a rural area of the county. They have a couple of dogs, one indoors and one outdoors.

They tie the outdoor dog up in the yard. A neighbor dog comes over and impregnates the tethered female.

The mewing sounds come from cardboard boxes, empty buildings and trash cans. The county shelter gets overrun with unwanted puppies and kittens. There are not enough foster homes.

The puppies get sick. The kittens get sick. Many caring hearts are broken when the tiny creatures die.

In Aiken County you have no obligation to spay or neuter your pets, so if members of our community allow their animals to breed, and the pregnant animals or their offspring end up at the county shelter, we all pick up the cost.

Currently there are many stakeholders in breaking this tragic, wasteful, irresponsible, immoral cycle. There are low-and no-cost spay/neuter services like the SPCA Albrecht Center in Aiken and North Augusta’s CSRA Life Saver.

There is the FOTAS SNAP Program currently serving the Wagener area and the Valley, and there is the Aiken County “No More Homeless Pets” Spay and Neuter Program serving qualifying citizens throughout Aiken County.

How does the County Spay/Neuter Program work?

An individual fills out an application providing basic information: name, address, animal data, ownership, liability waivers and household income.

Once qualified by Animal Services, the owner receives a voucher that will be honored by any veterinarian in Aiken County who performs spay/neuter surgeries.

Applications are normally available through any of the following:

• Aiken County Animal Shelter

• Public Works, Department of Social Services

• County libraries

• Animal Control officers

Applications must be presented in person at the County Animal Shelter to receive the voucher.

There is a $15 co-pay which accompanies the redemption of the voucher with the SPCA Albrecht Center, but the procedure will include a rabies vaccine and microchipping. In some instances even transportation can be arranged.

There really is no good reason to have an intact pet in our households.

There is no reason to allow a female dog or cat to go into heat first or have “just one litter.”

Male or female, cat or dog, a pet is going to be a happier healthier member of the family, and of the community, if its body’s recurring and incessant demand to breed is gone.

In the absence of legislated incentives to alter our house pets, it falls upon the entire community to help stem the tides of unwanted puppies and kittens.

If you know of a situation that would be aided by accessible, affordable spay/neuter services, provided information to the appropriate parties about what opportunities exist and how to access them.

Here is some contact information:

• Aiken County Animal Services: 803-642-1537 or www.fotasaiken.org

• SPCA Albrecht Center: 803-648-6863 or www.spca-albrecht.org

• CSRA Life Saver: 803-215-0559 or 803-221-8608 or www.csralifesaver.com

FOTAS believes that their lives are in our hands. And, if you are not part of the solution, you may be part of the problem. Please help.

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

Aiken County Animal Shelter: “By the Numbers”

May 13 through 19,

Brought in: 55 dogs and 41 cats

Adopted: 11 dogs and 6 cats

Put down: 54 dogs and 56 cats!

Aiken County Shelter “Pets of the Week!” HALF PRICE through June 8!

*All adoption fees include: Spay/Neuter, heartworm test, all shots, worming, and microchip.