Sunday, April 20, 2014

Rocking, Rolling and Riding at Woofstock!

Rocking, Rolling and Riding at Woofstock!
By Joanna Dunn Samson
as seen in the "Aiken Standard", April 20, 2014 issue

Where can you load up your kids, dress up your dog, paint your face and rock to the tunes of Jason the DJ and the live music of the fabulous 4 Cats in the Doghouse?

You can do that at the Woofstock Dogs, Cats and Music festival to be held on Saturday, May 3rd on the grounds of the brand spanking new Aiken County Animal Shelter.

And where can you take your family to marvel at the obedience and the agility of the canine species at the Obedience and Agility Demonstration performed by the Palmetto Dog Club? 

Woofstock, thats where.

Where can you show off your bordering-on border collies best tricks, your sort-of shih tzus gorgeous hairdo, your doubtful dachshunds adorable smooching behavior, or your howling hounds talking ability?

Uh huh - that would be Woofstock.

But wait!  Theres more!

Where in the world can you adopt the sweetest, most grateful, beautiful black dog for $33 or black cat for $13?  Or get a rabies vaccination for only $5 and an annual Heartworm test for only $15? 

Yep, you got it: Woofstock.

This will be third year FOTAS has organized The Woofstock Dogs, Cats and Music Festival, only this year, FOTAS has moved the festival to the new Aiken County Animal Shelter at 333 Wire Road.  It is an amazing place to take the whole family and your beloved canine friends for a carefree day of music, mindless fun and a few yucks. 

Although the festival starts at 10:30 at the shelter, the festivities actually start earlier with the Ride to Woofstock - a benefit motorcycle ride that starts at the Aiken County Public Works parking lot on May Royal Drive across from the Shelter at 9:30, proceeds to the Wagener town square and ends back at the Shelter.  

Two years ago, over 50 motorcyclists joined the procession for the 50 mile round trip in one long, rumbling, magnificent line.  It was a spectacle to behold, and this years ride promises to be even more impressive.  For more information on how to participate in the Ride to Woofstock, either with a real bike or a “pretend/virtual” bike team, call the FOTAS hotline: 803-514-4313.

And heres the thing: not only will you and your family be having a grand time on a beautiful spring day (fingers crossed on the weather), you will be benefitting the Countys thousands of homeless and abandoned animals.  

Proceeds from the Woofstock Festival will be used by FOTAS to assist the County in its dauntless task of taking care of those animals.  Proceeds from the Ride to Woofstock will be used to prevent more unwanted animals from being brought into this world that money will support the FOTAS Fix-a-Pet Program and Lennys Brigade.

Im excited.  On Saturday, May 3rd, I plan to gussy-up my terrier Jack (if he can take some time off from the important work of excavating my garden in search of moles) and my dutiful Maggie (if she feels she can temporarily abandon her duties of guarding the property from the blasted neighborhood cat), pack them into the truck along with my husband, and head on over to the Shelter for the day.

Aside from the pure fun of it all, I plan to take advantage of the $5 rabies shots and $15 Heartworm tests that will be available during the festival.  I intend to use the hefty chunk of change I will save by availing myself of these services to buy more flowers for my garden and a bottle of wine for my neighbors, who are, no doubt, a little weary of Maggies endless pursuit of the blasted cat.

See you at the Festival.  While you are there, take a tour of the new community animal shelter.  Its awesome.

FOTAS Volunteers work with the AIKEN COUNTY ANIMAL SHELTER, 333 Wire Road.  For more information, contact “” or visit FOTAS on line at

Aiken County Animal Shelter:  “By the Numbers”

Apr. 7, 2014 - Apr. 12, 2014

7 dogs and 0 cats adopted

Year to Date:  

215 terrific pets adopted


Aiken County Shelter “Pets of the Week!” 
**All adoption fees include:  spay/neuter, heartworm test, all shots, worming, and microchip.

OLIVIA   Boxer, female, 2 yrs old, 40 lbs.  Only $70 

HEATHER  Domestic short hair -- Female -- 8 weeks old, 8 lbs  Only $35

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sad Pet Surrenders -- Please Help Us Stop Them

Sad Surrenders can be easily avoided by owners
By Joanna Dunn Samson
as seen in the "Aiken Standard", April 13, 2014 issue

I was manning the desk at the Aiken County Animal Shelter one afternoon when a car pulled up to the curb in front of the Main Administration Building.  The driver, a woman, emerged from the front seat with a leash in her hand, and the passenger, a man, gets out and opened the back door.

My heart sinks.  An overweight black dog - a lab mix - is sitting in the back seat, panting anxiously.  The woman clips on the leash.

“Come on, June,” she says, “let’s go.”

June is having none of it.  She backs up in the seat.

The man tries to coax June out of the car.  Uh huh.  No way.  June hunkers down; her panting increases.

For the next 5 minutes, I watch a heartbreaking tug of war that, in the end, June inevitably loses.  Dragged out of the car, June follows her owners reluctantly to the Intake Door.  The owners pay a $20 drop-off fee and go home.

June is led to the Adoption Building to join 30 other dogs waiting to be adopted.  

I keep harping on this number, but it can’t be repeated too often: 4800 animals were consigned to the County Shelter last year.  4800!  Despite our success at increasing adoptions, fosters and transfers – we were unable to save them all.  Not even close.

Why do owners surrender their animals to a shelter?

In a study conducted by the National Council on Pet Population and Policy, the top 7 reasons dogs and cats are surrendered are: moving, landlord not allowing pet, too many animals in the household, costs, personal problems, inadequate facilities and no homes for litter mates.  Only 3% of dogs were relinquished for biting.  96% of the dogs had never had any obedience training. 

Of course, life happens and sometimes surrender is the only option, but it should always be the last option, because in Aiken County, there is a 70% chance (based on last year’s numbers) that a dog you relinquish to the shelter will be euthanized.

There are common sense things you can do to avoid surrendering a helpless animal to a shelter and an uncertain fate.

If you rent, check with your landlord before you bring a pet home.

Do not take on more pets than you can afford: additional pets = additional expenses.

Train your dog so it becomes a well-behaved family member.  There are easy, no-cost training programs online.

If you must move and can’t take your pet, or if you are having personal problems, ask responsible family and friends to help, or call local rescues who might be able to find a foster family for your pet on a temporary basis.

Neuter your pets.  Do not bring more unwanted animals into this world.

There are people who suffer when they are forced to surrender their pets – like the Army recruit deployed overseas who sobbed when he turned over his beloved Luci to Animal Control - but all too often, surrender is a callous and unnecessary option.

P.S.    By the way, there is a happy ending for June.  She is being fostered by a loving family who tells us, “she is an angel,” and will be on her way to a new home next week.

One more down, 4388 to go. 

One of those lovely animals is waiting for you.  Don’t wait - adopt today and save another life.

FOTAS Volunteers work with the AIKEN COUNTY ANIMAL SHELTER, 333 Wire Road.  For more information, contact “” or visit FOTAS on line at

Aiken County Animal Shelter:  Statistics Jan. thru Mar. 2014

Animals received         746

Animals saved 411
(adoptions & transfers)
Animals euthanized 431

We saved 57% so far, but don’t get your hopes up: breeding season has just begun.  Intake numbers are much higher during the summer months.

Aiken County Shelter “Pets of the Week!” 
**All adoption fees include:  spay/neuter, heartworm test, all shots, worming, and microchip.

RAMBO   Chocolate Lab, male, 8 yrs old, 61 lbs  Only $70 

MODI  Domestic short hair -- male -- 2 yrs. old, 8 lbs  Only $35

Sunday, April 6, 2014


Join The Ride ... Save Some Lives
By Edie Hubler, FOTAS Director
As seen in the "Aiken Standard" 4-6-14 issue

If my dog Zeus only had a thumb, he’d hijack a Harley, strap his pal Meg on the back, and tour around with the wind whipping his long, silky hair.  But alas for Zeus (and good for all the other drivers on the road), he cannot drive a motorcycle.

But you can -- along with Hailey, M.Y. and Hope, three young Aiken girls who are passionate about saving as many adoptable animals that they can.

They have joined the FOTAS Ride to Woofstock campaign to raise funds for the FOTAS’ Fix-A-Pet spay/neuter program, which will provide financial assistance for those community citizens who may need a little help.  This year’s Woofstock Dogs, Cats & Music Festival will be held at the new Aiken County Animal Shelter on May 3rd.  

Hailey, M.Y. and Hope aren’t actually riding motorcycles to Woofstock (although other FOTAS supporters will be); instead, they will be “virtual” riders.  Here are their stories.

Hailey Ardis is the granddaughter of Clay and Carrie Killian, who regularly walks dogs with her grandma at the County Shelter.  Nine year-old Hailey put a blue wig on her uncle’s willing dog, snapped a photo and formed Hailey’s Goal for the Animals.  Hailey’s original fundraising goal was $300, which she surpassed quickly.  She has continued to raise money, even donating some of her allowance.  

Four year-old M.Y., the daughter of a friend of Linda Soyars’  (a long-time FOTAS volunteer), decorated her tricycle, corralled her dogs Coco & Yuke for a photo op and formed her own virtual riding team, M.Y. Groovy Riders.  She also has reached her goal, but willingly accepts more donations to her team effort.
M.Y. and her dogs Coco and Yuke, getting ready for their Ride to Woofstock for Spay/Neuter
Nine year-old Hope Dyches frequently walks dogs and socializes cats at the Aiken County Animal Shelter with her aunt, Rebecca Reindl.  In fact, I see her at every FOTAS event -- that’s how much she cares.  Her team is called Hopes Friends & Family.  Her goal is lofty -- $1,000 is her “hope”.  

Through the efforts of Hailey, M.Y., Hope and a score of other volunteers, FOTAS hopes to raise $20,000 for the FOTAS Fix-a-Pet spay/neuter program.  Solving the County’s enormous unwanted pet population through spay/neuter is a long-term proposition – most experts agree it takes at least 10 years to see a significant drop in those numbers – so FOTAS is increasing its resources dedicated to that effort.  In the meantime, we will be working feverishly to adopt out to the growing Aiken community as many adoptable pets as possible.

Join the “Ride to Woofstock.”  You can do it on your own or with a team.  You can ride for real or you can ride “virtually.”  You can sign up with an existing team, like Hailey’s Goal for the Animals, M.Y.’s Groovy Riders, or Hope’s Friends & Family.

Plus, if you and your riding team raise at least $300, you will be eligible to win an iPAD mini.  This is easy, folks. 

Challenge yourself!  See how far you can go and how much you can raise.  

Remember, it’s not what you ride, it’s what you ride for.  Ride on, my friends, ride on.

Visit or for all the details. Or you can contact FOTAS at 803-514-4313.

FOTAS Volunteers work with the AIKEN COUNTY ANIMAL SHELTER, 333 Wire Road.  For more information, contact “” or visit FOTAS on line at

Aiken County Animal Shelter:  “By the Numbers”

Mar. 24, 2014 - Mar. 29, 2014

16 dogs and 1 cat adopted

Year to Date:  

146 terrific pets adopted


Aiken County Shelter “Pets of the Week!” 
**All adoption fees include:  spay/neuter, heartworm test, all shots, worming, and microchip.

OLIVIA   Boxer,  female, 2 yrs old, 40 lbs  Only $70 

CLARK  Domestic long hair -- male -- 3 yrs. old, 11 lbs  Only $35