Help! Strays and owner-surrenders are pouring into the county shelter – 47 animals in the first three days of the first week in December. While the good citizens of Aiken embrace a Christmas season of festivities, family and hope, the shelter is experiencing the kind of intake numbers normally reserved for summer – the kind that keep us up at night.
Why is this happening now? It’s a mystery – maybe it’s the longer breeding season caused by the very long summer, maybe it’s overwhelmed pet owners dumping their pets like unwanted baggage on county roads and at the shelter, maybe it’s both. We can only guess.
Even more alarming is the number of abused and neglected animals coming into the shelter. Like Red, a large, exuberant hound scarred with wire marks all over his body. He’s a big puppy who needs the company of other dogs.
Then there’s Angel, an affectionate dog who spent her life in the dirt at the end of a chain and bred indiscriminately. The first time the volunteers took her out to the play yard, she rolled and wiggled in the grass with joy. Grass was a new experience for her.
When the Animal Control officers brought in a sweet, gold with white markings hound-mix (now named Carol), she was so skinny you could count her ribs.
Sky, a beautiful freckled pup, was so weak when she came to the shelter, she couldn’t stand. Once she was given a bed, she wouldn’t leave it except to scarf down a few treats and enjoy a little “me” time with shelter staff and volunteers.
The list goes on and on.
We are baffled and discouraged. The shelter has come so far over the past 10 years, yet these abnormally high-intake numbers during a normally low-intake period feels like a setback. Unless and until rampant overpopulation of homeless pets is checked and intake numbers come down, our goal of never having to euthanize another adoptable pet will be in jeopardy.
In the meantime, shelter staff and FOTAS volunteers have shifted into hyper-drive to handle the onslaught of animals. They’ve pulled out all the stops: begging transfer partners to take extra animals, aggressively working the new Home-to-Home program, marketing animals regionally on social media, and recruiting more volunteers and fosters.
But we need your help, too.
First and foremost, if you are in a position to adopt a pet, or if you know someone who is considering adoption, now is the time. These animals urgently need responsible, loving homes. Plus, for every animal you adopt or foster, you save two lives – the animal you adopt and the animal that is moved to the adoption floor when the space opens up.
Second, be a spay/neuter ambassador – fix your animals and talk your friends and family into fixing theirs. If you or they cannot afford the cost to spay/neuter, you may be eligible for County or FOTAS financial assistance.
Finally, please make a tax-free donation at www.fotasaiken.org to help us carry on the good work. FOTAS and the county shelter save more animals than any other rescue agency in the CSRA – period.
Their lives are in our hands.
By the Numbers
Since Nov. 1, the Aiken County Animal Shelter has received 420 homeless pets. That's 14 animals per business day. Please spay and neuter your pets.