For those of you with rescues, I’m sure you wonder what life was like for your companions before you. I often look at my cat Anakin and, even though I found him as a kitten, I wonder where exactly he came from and what he was up to during those first eight weeks of his life before me and where he’d be now if not as my best friend. Whatever the story was or could have been, I celebrate the fact that he’s in my life every year on his “birthday.”

Even birthdays are a mystery with rescues. For Anakin, the vet estimated his age and subtracted that on the calendar from the day I found him. That brought his birthday to early March, which I rounded to March 1st to make it easier to remember. So, every year, on March 1st, Anakin gets treats (he doesn’t need) and toys (he doesn’t play with) and the song stylings of Claire Roberson singing “Happy Birthday” (that no one asked for) for his maybe, estimated, might-be-his-actual day of birth.

It’s not that the date truly matters. But, as humans, we hold value in birthdays as a day to celebrate special people in our lives and tell them we’re glad they were born. Our furry companions are no exception. I know for a lot of rescue parents, birthdays are extra special because we want to show our rescues how special they truly are after a typically not-so-kind past.

So, what do you do if you don’t know their birthday? Well, coming up on August 1st (otherwise known as “Dogust 1st”) is the “Universal Birthday for Shelter Dogs,” established by North Shore Animal League America. It’s a day to recognize all shelter and rescue dogs that don’t have an established birthday so that we can all celebrate a special day and tell our canine companions that we’re so grateful they were born. If you already have a birthday for your pup, use this day to just give them some extra love and tell them again how much you love them!

Photo: SPCA Albrecht Center pup Himalia

For all of my feline-loving friends wondering where the heck their day is, you haven’t been forgotten! October 1st is the “Universal Birthday for Shelter Cats,” but go ahead and celebrate this Sunday, too, if you’d like – no judgment here!

For our shelter pups without a home to celebrate them, a family of their own is all they could ask for their unofficial birthday on Sunday. We have so many wonderful canine friends that need a loving home, many of which have waited up to half a year, like our friend Lars, for theirs. If you’re interested in adding to your family with a new companion, what a better time than now to adopt a shelter pup and give them a home where they can unwrap their presents, devoir a pup-cake and feel more special than they’ve ever felt before?

If you’re unable to adopt, the SPCA Albrecht Center is seeking birthday gifts for their animals in the form of supply donations. Food, toys, treats and more have been added to our new Chewy Wish List! These are lifesaving items that ensure a comfortable, healthy quality of life while in our care, especially during these warmer months when we have seen a major influx of animals.

Photo: SPCA Albrecht Center pup Lars

Not in the market to adopt and not in a position to make a donation, but still want to help? Come visit us Monday – Saturday from 11am to 4:30pm at 199 Willow Run Road in Aiken. Visitation with the dogs, if not a registered volunteer, is typically limited to interested adopters as staff supervision is required, but we have many cats that need lots of loving from visitors! Or, sign up to be a volunteer and change animals’ lives by providing companionship while in the shelter. Dates are coming up soon for Information Sessions (the first step in becoming a volunteer): Visit for dates under the “How to Help/Volunteer” tab.

No matter what, we thank all of our supporters for celebrating our area’s homeless & neglected animals, and making them feel special every day, not just on their “birthday.” In turn, it makes our staff feel special to know we’re working alongside compassionate and loving animal advocates in the community to better the future for the animals.

From all of us at the SPCA Albrecht Center, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to all of our rescued furry friends!

An Aiken native and self-proclaimed cat lady, Claire Roberson is the SPCA Albrecht Center’s Communications Director, working in marketing, grant writing and media correspondence. She attended College of Charleston, where she graduated with a degree in Nonprofit Business and interned with Charleston Animal Society, the leader in No-Kill South Carolina. When not working, you can find Claire hanging out with her 18-pound Maine Coon mix, Anakin.

The SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare is a private, nonprofit, no kill animal shelter in Aiken, SC. The SPCA also operates a local Thrift Store (“Where Shopping Saves Lives”), a public, affordable Veterinary Care Center & a Dog Park. It is our mission to improve the lives of companion animals by rehoming abused, abandoned, and neglected pets while fighting for their well-being through vigorous legislative efforts, humane education, and by offering affordable veterinary care for all.