New Aiken County shelter faces problems similar to Richmond County


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- Aiken County has a bigger and better animal shelter now, but they say it still isn't fixing a lot of their problems. The new shelter has been open for three months and it's already way beyond capacity.

New building, new cages, new animals, same problem. Bobby Arthurs is the Chief Enforcement Officer at the Aiken County shelter.

"For the month of May we had over five hundred animals. That's a lot of animals and a lot more coming in than going out," he said.

The Aiken County animal shelter wants to take animals off the streets and find them a home, the problem is they're running out of room.

"We are rapidly filling up and once we are full, we have to make a decision," he said.

And it has been working. Right now Aiken County has to euthanize around half of all of the animals brought into their shelter but that number is down from almost 98 percent. The problem has made them explore some new ways to keep these dogs and cats alive.

"We are doing everything in our manpower to try and find them a home, whether it's adoptions, fosters homes, or transfers to other shelters," Arthurs said.

Karen Peck has fostered dogs for a little over a year. She says it's hard to let them go but it's worth it. Peck said, "It's a great feeling to know you've saved this animals life and enriched someone else's life that is adopting this animal."

The adoption coordinator at the Aiken County shelter, Annette Vanderwalt hopes more people take on this stance to help save these animals lives.

"I always tell people to be part of their story be a part of their journey," she said. "If they have a destination address, give them two weeks of love and attention and send them on their way, we always get happy pictures of them afterward."

For now, the staff here will continue to work to try to get more cages empty and less animals put down.

"They're all looking for a special home. Everyone deserves a second chance," Vanderwalt said.

Right now the problem is worse because of the summer months and this is breeding season for many pets. There are some things you can do to help save these pets. The Aiken County Animal shelter is running special program until June 13th on adopting cats. The cats are only fifteen dollars. Starting on June 14th, with help from Best Friends there will be "nine lives for cats," in which cats can be adopted for only nine dollars for nine days. Any pet adopted from the animal shelter is eligible for a spay and neuter voucher which is accepted at most veterinary offices. All of the adoption fees include vaccinations, microchips and spay and neutering.

Although the Aiken shelter does not have a full time vet on staff, they do contract out two vets which basically allows them to work full time. This does cut down on the number of animals the shelter has to euthanize, but the numbers is still high. The shelter also provides trainers in order to make sure their pets that are available will be human friendly.


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