Is there anything sadder than being alone on Christmas? Maybe youíre out of the country, in the service, stuck in an airport. Maybe your family lives far away and you canít afford the annual trek. Maybe you donít have a family. Whatever the reason, being alone on a day when it seems like (whether itís true or not) the rest of the world is luxuriating around a Christmas Tree in front of a fire surrounded by friends and family is down right miserable.

This Christmas season, while the rest of us hustle and bustle to make Christmas special for our own families and loved ones, many adoptable animals will spend their day in a cage in the closed and dark Aiken County Animal Shelter, with no chance of interacting with staff or volunteers the way they do when the shelter is open.

I am the first to admit that I am guilty of rampant anthropomorphism, but the thought of those homeless animals curled up on some ratty blanket in a drab crate awaiting their ultimate fate breaks my heart. I know intellectually that Christmas has no meaning for an animal, and that animals live in the moment. If in that moment, they are fed, warm and protected ... well, thatís a pretty good moment no matter where they are.

But still ... what if we could make that moment even greater? What if in addition to basic care, those animals could curl up in a loving home where they can play and be hugged and fussed over (like Woody, a recent Shelter adoptee pictured here with his owner Kayson Ė she put reindeer ears on Woody) ... wouldnít that be a better moment?

We folks at FOTAS and the Aiken County Animal Shelter think so, and we are sponsoring a Holiday Foster Program, where local families can sponsor an adoptable dog or cat for two or three days over Christmas and/or over the New Yearís holiday. The foster family would pick them up before Christmas or New Years, keep them over the holiday, and return them to the shelter after Christmas or New Years.

I know what youíre thinking. No, no, no! Iíll get attached. Iíll feel guilty taking them back to the shelter.

I get it Ė but why not think instead: By giving this dog or cat a bunch of moments full of love and attention, I can override negative experiences with good ones, make the animal happier and thus more adoptable, and increase its likelihood of finding a forever home.

I wish I could remember what wise person said, ďThe only love I regret is the love I didnít give,Ē but isnít that the truth? Please consider fostering a shelter animal this holiday season. Contact the shelter at 803-642-1537 or stop by the shelter at 411 Wire Rd.

If you have been thinking about adopting a pet, now is the time. You would be saving a life as the Shelterís kennels have become so overcrowded in the past few weeks with so many pets who were abandoned or surrendered. Through January 4, 2014, the County Shelter adoption fees are reduced to $35/dog and $20/cat.

Foster, Adopt, Love and Merry Christmas, one and all. Thereís no place like home.

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

By the numbers:

Dec. 9 - 14, 2013

Adopted: 12 dogs, 1 cat

Year to Date: 694