It's been said that an animal shelter in the southeast runs like a faucet with the drain open. There are adoptions and return-to-owners every day, but then newcomers arrive as strays through Animal Control or as surrenders from owners who are no longer able to care for them. Open spaces are often immediately filled with new pets looking for a second chance, and sometimes they come and go before I have a chance to meet them.
But then there are the familiar faces. The cats and dogs who have been in our shelter for an extended period of time. Since the SPCA Albrecht Center operates what is commonly referred to as a "no-kill" shelter, pets are never euthanized to make room for new arrivals. So, as long as they are healthy (or at least treatable) and not aggressive, they have a place in our shelter with a bed, food, water, and medical care while they await adoption into a forever home.
For some, this can mean they are with us for several weeks, months, even a year or more. And while some say that life in a shelter is better than no life at all, I can't help but think of the Tears for Fears song when I see them still here, day after day: "All around me are familiar faces... worn out faces... going nowhere."
Yes, shelter life IS a life, but life alone is not enough. This is why pets in our care not only receive the basic necessities mentioned above, but also enrichment and training to give them a life worth living and opportunity for success in a permanent home.
And as much as we love what we call our "long term residents" - what we love even more is seeing them walk out of our door, adopted into a permanent home. Not only do we know they are off to a better life, but their departure gives us the chance to save another pet coming in the door. Perhaps you can help us meet both of those goals?
Two familiar faces in our shelter are Mr. Gizmo and Stretchy - handsome, senior felines who are best buds and roommates in good health in need of a quiet, low-key home environment. Both cats were surrendered to our shelter in January after their elderly owner's health declined. They are available for adoption as a pair, with a $0 adoption fee.
If you've visited our dog adoption area within the last year, you'll recognize Major's face. He's been in our care since May 2016, when he was picked up by City of Aiken Animal Control. Major is a large pit bull mix who can appear intimidating at first, but just ask any of our Pet Care Specialists how sweet he can be once he has gotten to know you. Major will be happiest in a quiet home with no other pets or small children.
Zebo is another familiar canine face. Also a pit bull mix, he's a highly energetic dog who needs an equally energetic person with plenty of patience and time to spend with him throughout the day. A large, fenced yard where Zebo can run and play with his person is ideal, and he would be happiest as an only pet.
Haku and Shiba are two more familiar felines in our shelter. They were found together as kittens hiding inside the wall of a local car wash! Both are males and only about a year old. They are typical-looking tabby cats, which may explain their long stay, but both have sweet, individual personalities and we would love to see them adopted together.
There are plenty more eager, hopeful, furry faces in our shelter; some old, some new, all waiting for their chance to become a familiar face in your family. See them online at LetLoveLive.org/available-pets or visit them in person at 199 Willow Run Road, in Aiken. June is Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat-Month! All adult cats have $0 adoption fees, and kitten adoption fees are reduced to $50.
Sarah Neikam is the Marketing Director for the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. She is an Aiken native and has been with the SPCA since 2012. Sarah lives in Graniteville with her family which includes three adopted cats: Bastian, Luna and Grady, who are all living happy, loved lives thanks to the efforts of the SPCA.