When the 2019 Aiken’s Choice winners were announced for the Best of Aiken Contest (hosted by the Aiken Standard), FOTAS was voted the winner of the Best Nonprofit Organization, and FOTAS’s annual Woofstock Doggie Derby Day was voted as the Best Pet-Friendly Event. We couldn’t be more touched and pleased, not only because of the recognition (always nice), but because we were selected by you, the community. We know how many other worthy nonprofits operate in Aiken, and that makes your selection of FOTAS even more meaningful.
FOTAS was formed 10 years ago in response to the heartbreaking plight of the homeless and abandoned animals in Aiken County. At the time, about 6,000 animals were consigned to the county shelter each year; only 5% made it out alive. The county shelter was old and outdated. There were no play yards and very few volunteers. There was no adoption program to speak of. In 2009, the founders of FOTAS dreamed of a day when no adoptable animal would have to be euthanized in Aiken County.
We’re so close. In 10 short years, intake numbers have dropped roughly 16 to 21% (still too many but making progress), but the save rate at the county shelter has increased from a dismal 5% to a whopping 90%. The 10% we can’t save are either too emotionally or physically damaged to make good, safe, family pets. Maybe one day, the number of animals too far gone to save will be reduced to a few rare instances. We can only hope.
We could not have come this far and saved those thousands of animals without your – the community’s – support. You showed up in droves to let your elected county officials know that you wanted better outcomes for our homeless animals, and they listened. You volunteer at the shelter six days a week and on holidays, performing as many as 10 full-time jobs to supplement the county’s dedicated staff. The adoption program is thriving thanks to the army of committed citizens who come every day to walk and socialize the animals. We are able to market our animals and go the extra mile to find every animal a home because you help us with social media, outreach, fostering and transfer programs.
Moreover, thanks to our fundraising efforts and special events and your seemingly bottomless generosity, we are able to finance new programs, equipment and training for and at the shelter, as well as subsidize the costs of adoption, spay/neuter and other medical needs – all designed to increase the number of adoptions while reducing the population of homeless animals and thus, the annual intake at the shelter.
We are humbled and proud that you have recognized our efforts and celebrate our success through these 2019 Aiken's Choice Awards, but the truth is: we owe it all to your generosity and support, and these awards honor you as much as they honor us.
With your continued commitment, we will reduce the population of homeless and unwanted animals; we will get those intake numbers down; and we will attain the goal of never having to euthanize another adoptable pet in Aiken County.
That is our pledge to you. Thank you and God bless.
Their lives are in our hands.
PS: Help! The shelter is overrun with kittens and puppies. If you are thinking about a new pet, now’s the time.
By the Numbers
In June, the Aiken County Animal Shelter received more than 500 strays and surrendered pets. The shelter facility is currently full.