This is a big weekend for the Aiken County Animal Shelter, FOTAS and, in particular, the 200 animals living at the old county shelter on Wire Road. They are finally moving to the new county shelter after years of planning and a little over a year of construction.

The new shelter has been designed to properly house and care for the 200 animals that are currently crowded into a space designed 25 years ago for a maximum capacity of 100. In designing the new shelter, the County and FOTAS’ primary focus was to ensure that the animals were housed in a healthy environment to increase their prospects of adoption.

The most important defense against the spread of the disease among the animals in the shelter is proper air exchange and waste removal, so state of the art mechanical and plumbing equipment has been installed to address those issues.

While the physical improvements in the new shelter are noteworthy, the impact on FOTAS volunteers and County staff cannot be overstated; they will no longer report to a dreary, noisy institutional building to do God’s work.

The new shelter is cheerful – colorful graphics of dogs and cats grace the walls of the lobby, along with inspirational quotes, such as “In a perfect world, every pet would have a home and every home would have a pet.”

Volunteers can walk and play with dogs in two spacious playpens, located outside of the adoption wing far from the goings and comings of animal control. All dogs and cats have access to the outside from their kennel runs or crates, a major improvement over the dark, indoor kennels at the old facility.

This new facility, a testament to the progress that can be made when public entities and private citizens partner to make the world a better place, is a concrete demonstration of the county’s move from euthanasia as its primary means of controlling the homeless pet population to a system based on animal advocacy.

But this new facility is not a magic bullet to address the distressing overpopulation of unwanted animals in the county. We must continue to reduce the intake numbers at the shelter (4,800 last year alone) through systematic, targeted spay/neuter and educational programs. If we do not, the new shelter will also be overwhelmed by the sheer number of the County’s homeless animals. We cannot allow that to happen.

In the meantime, FOTAS and its volunteers will continue to work like the dickens to find homes for the County shelter’s animals through increased foster families, off-site adoptions and transfer programs.

If you are considering adopting a pet or volunteering, now is the time and the new community shelter is the place. When you are adopting, the shelter is a pleasant place for you to meet your prospective new best friend. As a volunteer, you can walk and socialize the animals, greet potential adopters in the cheerful new lobby, help organize transfers, and man off-site adoptions.

FOTAS volunteers work with the Aiken County Animal Shelter, 411 Wire Road. For more information, call FOTAS at 803-514-4313 or email

Aiken County Animal Shelter: “By the Numbers”

Feb. 17-22

Adopted: 6 dogs, 3 cats

Year to Date: 81