FOTAS was created in 2009 in response to the alarming number of stray and abandoned animals in Aiken County and the hopelessness of their plight. At the time, because of the sheer number of these animals, “Animal Control” consisted of a futile attempt to reduce the homeless population by euthanasia.

The conditions at the shelter were abysmal. It was not unusual for 200 animals to be crowded in a dark, airless building built in the 1980s to house half that number – dogs were often packed 2 to 3 to a cage, and cats were held in small cages in a room the size of a closet in the back of the building. Because of the open waste trenches and lack of air exchange, it was difficult, if not impossible, to keep the animals healthy. In short, a trip to the county shelter in those days was a near certain death sentence: despite the Herculean efforts of the shelter staff, 95 percent of the thousands of dogs and cats consigned to the shelter each year had to be euthanized.

Shortly after we created FOTAS, it became clear that any solution to these problems would be short-lived without a larger, better shelter to keep the animals healthy while we worked to find them a home. Accordingly, the construction of a new shelter became FOTAS’s primary goal.

We created a public/private partnership with the county. FOTAS raised funds through private donations to pay for the shovel-ready plans, architect fees, cage banks, kennels, the cat adoption house and shelter equipment. The county used public funds to build the building.

Finally, on March 3, after years of planning and development, the new Aiken County Animal Shelter opened its doors to the public.

So many people supported the efforts to make our collective dream a reality: County Council, the County Administration, the devoted shelter employees and the army of FOTAS volunteers who walk dogs, play with the cats, foster puppies, help with transfers and assist with fundraisers.

We are also forever indebted to you, the members of our community, for your support and financial generosity.

However, the completion of this shelter is just the first step in achieving our ultimate goal to never have to euthanize another adoptable pet in Aiken County. There is still so much to do.

• We must reduce the population of unwanted animals through public education regarding pet responsibility and the provision of affordable spay/neuter services. The ultimate success of the new shelter depends upon maintaining and reducing current intake numbers.

• We must find ways to increase adoptions on the local level and transfers of adoptable pets to our partner shelters in other parts of the country.

• We must continue to recruit and train volunteers and raise money for future needs.

Please join us today at 2 p.m. to celebrate the grand opening of the new Aiken County Animal Shelter at 333 Wire Road. We will be serving refreshments, free giveaways and cutting adoption fees. It will be our honor to share the happiness of achieving this important milestone with all of you in the Aiken community.

FOTAS volunteers work with the Aiken County Animal Shelter, 333 Wire Road. For more information, email or visit

Aiken County Animal Shelter: “By the Numbers”

March 10 to 15

Adopted: 17 dogs, 2 cats

Year to Date: 110