(Featured photo is of Bam Bam, one of the dogs recently at the Aiken County Animal Shelter)
(Editor’s note: This is the second story in a series about area organizations serving animals. Multiple organizations have programs related to animal adoptions. These are a few of them in Aiken and Barnwell counties.)
A new P.A.W.S. Center will allow visitors to the Aiken County Animal Shelter to visit one-on-one with shelter animals to evaluate them before adoption.
“The new P.A.W.S. Center will help us make our homeless pets more adoptable and reduce their length of stay at the shelter. Due to open in May, the P.A.W.S. Center (Primary Learning, Adoption, Wellness, Socialization) will feature a cat room and catio as well as meet and greet rooms, where potential adopters can get to know a new dog, away from the frenzied environment of the kennels and the distractions of the outside play yard,” said Bob Gordon with Aiken’s Friends of the Animal Shelter.
The addition was announced in 2021, and Gordon said it will be a great asset.
“It will also have a large room for training and socializing shelter dogs. This room also will provide space for indoor dog play groups, introducing shelter dogs to potential adopters’ existing dogs, holding educational events, giving presentations and training staff and volunteers,” he said.
The volunteer organization is a big supporter of the animal shelter often holding fundraisers and events to bring awareness and money to help animals. A recent example of this is the Woofstock event April 15 and a 5K is coming up May 20. At that event, dogs will be on site for adoption, and food donations will be accepted – dry and wet food for dogs and cats. Donations of new pet toys will also be accepted.
Gordon said the group’s mission to save animals from euthanasia has been a huge success, and he’s got the numbers to prove it.
“Before FOTAS was established, the County’s live release rate was only 9% but we are happy to say last year, 2022 year end status, it was 94% as a result of the efforts of FOTAS and its volunteers. FOTAS will continue its efforts to improve that number and fulfill its mission to never have to euthanize another adoptable animal,” according to Gordon.
The Aiken shelter has been full more than once in recent months with animals needing homes, and volunteers have ramped up their efforts to get animals into permanent homes FOTAS officials are always looking for additional volunteers to foster animals until homes can be found.
“Our adoptions are slower than usual but what is really challenging us is the number of dogs coming into the shelter. Strays and surrendered pets keep arriving at a high clip. No breaks in the flow of homeless pets flooding into the shelter. During the last two weeks of March, we’ve taken in many puppies and mama dogs who need fosters/adoptions. We currently have an urgent need for puppy fosters and adopters,” Gordon said.
Another way people can volunteer is through a reading program. One group plans to spend April 22 at the shelter. Members of the Gloverville Elementary School’s Beta Club will visit the shelter and read-aloud to dogs from 10 to 11 a.m.
Other animal shelters throughout the region have had comparable programs at times to help with socialization of the animals.
The South Carolina side of the C.S.R.A. has as big a heart for animals as the Augusta side.
The SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare on 199 Willow Run Rd. in Aiken was established in 1935. It has been placing thousands of homeless and neglected animals into loving forever homes for more than 85 years. The organization also operates a low cost veterinary clinic.
“We depend solely upon local donations to support our efforts to save the lives of homeless dogs and cats in our community, and receive no regular funding from state or federal agencies, or from the ASPCA (a completely separate entity). Our success is due to the efforts of dedicated SPCA Albrecht Center employees and volunteers, support from our Board of Directors, as well as the generous donations and continued support of our animal-loving community,” its website said.
The center has been undergoing some renovation and the animals are moved to covered crates at night. The organization is searching for fosters during the process.
The group also runs a thrift store on 1589 Whiskey Rd. in Aiken.
A popular event at the center is its regular Yappy Hours which are scheduled for May 17, June 14 and Sept. 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. The event features a cash bar, food, live music, raffles and an open dog park.
Two additional fundraisers are scheduled – one is from 6 to 8 p.m. April 24 at the thrift store. The Nine Lives Casino features raffle baskets, roulette spin and light hors d’oeuvres and cash bar donation. Also, an Art 4 Pets fundraiser is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. April 27 at Woodside Country Club, 1000 Woodside Plantation Dr.
North Augusta has several efforts towards helping animals as well. Friends of North Augusta Animals’ mission is to collaborate with local governments, citizens and rescue organizations to act as an advocate on behalf of North Augusta animals.
“We aim to provide resources and supporting services in order to facilitate their adoption. We seek to engage the hearts, hands and minds of our community to bring about an end to the disposal of abandoned local animals,” according to its website.
Another organization is Canine Pawsasbilities Rescue. Volunteers take animals to the North Augusta PetSmart to promote adoption.
Also, the Barnwell County Animal Shelter, 55 Diamond Rd., Barnwell, recently unloaded 26 pallets of food from a Chewy truck thanks to its employees and volunteers. In addition, volunteers helped put up a large tent to store the food. They mostly recently have started a Community Resource Pantry for Barnwell County residents for pet items in their homes. For more information, call (803) 259-1656.
Ron Baxley Jr. is a correspondent for Augusta Good News. He’s also the author of several books inspired by The Wizard of Oz as well as a graphic novel based on his Corgi, Ziggy.