Time is up for dogs, need homes

SOPHIE – 1.5-year-old, 72-pound shepherd/lab mix. This dog is a doll! Her time is up. She is available at half-price – $35!

The coloring around Benjamin’s nose looks like a valentine melting over his lips. He has tawny patches over both eyes that spread speckles across floppy ears. His gaze is kind and direct. His time ran out at the County Shelter, and coincidence saved him. Large lovable dogs are often not so lucky. Why?

Suppose you go to the Aiken County Shelter determined to rescue a dog as a new pet. Proceeding through the cramped hallway serving as a “lobby,” you enter the “adoption section,” distinguished from the rest of the decrepit building by chain link gates.

All the dogs are barking. Every caged face pleads, “Pick me!” Some have a sense of urgency that causes them to jump against the cage.

You feel somewhat overwhelmed; you gravitate to puppies or smaller dogs, assuming they will be less trouble, easier to manage. This is not necessarily the case. They all need training.

The County Shelter is blessed with a few regular FOTAS volunteers who work with the dogs to get them ready for a successful adoption.

Some volunteers work until every dog gets out, four mornings a week. They take the wild ones, the cowering ones, the ones who have to be carried out of the building, and turn them into enjoyable companions.

Without volunteer help, these animals would remain caged, get depressed, lose weight and act crazed or horrified should anyone show any interest, never mind try to walk them on a leash.

The volunteers learn each dog’s temperament; they teach them good behavior; they bond with them and develop fervent hopes for the animal’s future in a loving, forever home.

As dogs like these time draws to a close, the shelter staff pulls out all the stops getting them in front of the public. They take them on TV. They feature them in the paper.

So it is with Sophie, the shepherd lab, whose time is running out and is now half price; or Dixie, the precious boxer mix; or Marie, featured for the first time this week, who looks so much like Benjamin’s sister, a large, lovable lab/hound.

Everyone who worked with Benjamin, including his current foster-mom, say he is a model pet. He is crate-trained, gets along with other dogs and would even work in an apartment. “He is very much an inside dog,” she said.

Her pictures of Benjamin are on FOTAS Facebook page and website (www.fotasaiken.org).

His foster mom welcomes any serious caller interested in giving Benjamin a permanent loving home to call 706-231-4399.

Summer is always a slow time for adoptions. To make matters worse, the unwanted litters keep coming in and, appallingly, many people surrender the family pet to an overwhelmed shelter so they can vacation without making pet-care arrangements.

You can help in so many ways: rescue responsibly, volunteer, and donate.

Consider this: two dogs are easier than one; dogs help us get exercise; a dog is God’s antidepressant; a big dog is more of all of the above. Please help.

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

Aiken County Animal Shelter: “By the Numbers”

The WEEK of June 24th thru 30th ‘13

Brought in: 86 dogs and 76 cats!!

Adopted: 5 dogs and 28 cats!

Put down: 59 dogs and 65 cats!

Aiken County Shelter “Pets of the Week!”

MARIE – 3 yrs. 42 lbs. A sweetheart of a dog. She is on sale! $35

SOPHIE – 1.5 yr. 72 lb. shepherd/lab mix. This dog is a doll! Time is up. Half-price = $35!

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