"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world."
Comforting and inspiring words by Fred Rogers, or "Mister Rogers" as I knew him from my childhood watching "Mister Rogers Neighborhood". Words that seems to resonate even more these days during what seem to be incessant natural disasters, acts of terrorism and violent acts of human hatred.
But along with 24 hour news of the terrible things happening in the world, there are also reports highlighting the many helpers. Genuinely caring people, helping family, friends, neighbors and complete strangers, proving that with all of the hateful, scary people in the world, there are so many more compassionate, helpful people.
In the animal welfare world, we've seen this recently in photos and videos, starting with the devastation in Texas following Hurricane Harvey and even more recently with Hurricane Irma. Pet owners, rescue workers and volunteers, farmers, ranchers, real-life cowboys and even reporters, all acting as heroes to dogs tied to trees, cats cornered in flooded homes, horses trapped in corrals, and even bats stuck under bridges with rapidly rising waters.
People coming together for a good cause, is an amazing thing to witness. We witnessed it first-hand this time last year with Hurricane Matthew and again this past week as we partnered with other SC agencies to pull shelter animals from Charleston Animal Society in an effort to open space in their shelter for evacuated, lost and homeless pets in need, before and after the expected storm.
We transported 28 dogs from Charleston to our shelter where they were placed in donated kennels, are being fed donated food, and are being walked several times per day by our dedicated staff and volunteers.
None of this would be possible without the generosity of the helpers in our community. They seem to come through every time, proving the power of the human, and the humane spirit. If you'd like to help, here are a few ways:
Donate. We are always grateful to receive food, towels, blankets and enrichment toys, but the care that some of these pets need is quite costly and monetary donations can do the most good. Visit LetLoveLive.org/TailsOfHope or call 803-648-6863 to donate. Any amount helps.
Adopt. If you've been considering adopting a pet, now is a great time to open your heart and home to a pet in need. Every dog and cat in our shelter is waiting for a loving home like yours and every pet adopted opens space for us to rescue one more. Visit LetLoveLive.org/adopt to see available pets or 199 Willow Run Rd, Aiken SC.
Volunteer. Committed, reliable dog walkers, cat cuddlers and Thrift Shop workers are needed year-round to help care for the animals and generate funds so we can continue our mission. Visit LetLoveLive.org/volunteer for information.
Foster. Temporary foster homes are needed for scared pets who don't adjust well to shelter life, for injured or sick pets in recovery, or for puppies and kittens needing to be bottle-fed. Visit LetLoveLive.org/foster to complete an application.
However you choose to be a helper in these harrowing times, know that the animals and the people entrusted with their care, are grateful for your support.
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.