P.A.W.S. to Listen and Learn

Folks, what we are about to do together is to make sure that no adoptable or treatable companion animal has to die impounded. Watch for our banner: NKAC! It stands for No Kill Aiken County. In order to realize this rather lofty vision for our county (already accomplished by Spartanburg city) we have a new venture.

P.A.W.S. stands for Palmetto Animal Welfare Services, Inc. Its mission is, “Unwanted pet prevention and Well-homed pet retention.” Wagener’s own Dottie Gantt is on the governing board of this county-wide 501(c)(3) animal advocacy non-profit. PAWS, Inc. promotes low-cost accessible spay/neuter services, and coordinates existing animal welfare resources so that the needs of Aiken County animals can be effectively addressed by their humans.

This month, we would like to offer the Wagener Monthly readership some information to help begin the process with companion animals we already know; dogs and cats that already depend on us, God’s creatures doomed by our ignorance or apathy unless we learn how to take care of them.

For instance, did you know that heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes? Or are you aware that you can prevent most common intestinal parasites by protecting your dogs from heartworm? For less than it costs for a burger and a beer, once a month, you can keep your pets safe from a potentially fatal disease. It is also worth considering that if you surrender your dog or it is picked up by the county and it tests positive for heartworm that, too, is a death sentence.

Heartworm prevention begins with a licensed veterinarian who will test your dog. If the test is positive, the professional can tell you about your options. We hope the test is negative and you will be able to begin a simple prevention protocol. The heartworm prevention medications are available by prescription, but all you are required to get from a veterinarian is the test and the prescription. Once you have a prescription there are low cost on-line sources competing for your business.

There are some very cost-effective ways to begin to protect your dogs from heartworm. One is Pet Med Mobile (1-800-228-6007 or which swings through Wagener about monthly. They charge $35 for the test, but you have the local convenience. Pawmetto Lifeline’s Care-a-Van program may come to Wagener, too. They charge $20 for the test and can be queried at Or you can go to the SPCA Albrecht Center in Aiken. They only charge $18, but you have to drive. All three organizations offer the full range of vaccines for dogs and cats at very affordable prices, and probably sell the prevention products you need for added convenience.

In our area, Heartworm treatment should be done year round due to the warmer weather we experience in the south.

Sure, dogs and cats can do fine living outdoors, provided that they have plenty of water, good food, shade and shelter, but that does not mean that they don’t need additional protection from ticks and fleas. Beyond the misery of allergies, potentially lethal anemia if left untreated too long, the host animals (including humans) can get tapeworms from fleas. If your environment is infested, it is not enough to slap on a flea collar, or even give the “top-spot” medications and pills, but it is not that hard, or expensive, to address the problem of a yard infestation.

“You can find an insecticide that is already set up to attach to your hose at the Feed Store, Wal-Mart or Lowes,” Dottie says, “then when you use that up, you can just get the stuff and mix it yourself.” You can ask Dottie for her well-tested secrets, like when to spray and how much, when you call her about the easy and highly affordable spay/neuter services sponsored by Friends of the Animal Shelter (FOTAS).

Thanks to organizations like the SPCA, FOTAS, Lenny’s Brigade, Pawmetto Lifeline, PAWS and programs like the Aiken County Voucher Program, there really is no excuse for any more unwanted litters of puppies or kittens. The surgery is as good as free at the brand new SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare in Aiken, and with the $20 co-pay you get a rabies vaccine and a micro-chip.

Here are some options:

Self-transport your pet to and from the Aiken SPCA, call or text: (803) 645-4021 or 564-5231. Either Colleen Timmerman or Dottie Gantt will get back to you on how to proceed.
Sign up for the (monthly) transport at Wagener Town Hall. Cost is the same but you have to wait. Colleen or Dottie can fill you in on the pros and cons to consider.
If you are struggling with a free-roaming cat colony, call: (803) 507-6315 or 564-5231. Cats can be trapped-neutered and returned to their habitat. This service is free and cages are provided.

A newly revised Animal Control Ordinance has finally been adopted by the City Council of Wagener that sets forth regulations for its citizens to assure that the health and safety of persons and animals are protected. Wagener can take pride in the guidelines adopted, and any residents, or their neighbors, who are unsure of the current quality of care for any animal, would be well served to consult the Mayor’s Office for the new rules.

We mentioned a case last month where an ailing mother and her severely disabled son had a pack of dogs that were breeding and wandering out of control. The desire to help a handicapped young man who loved (and needed) his dogs, set our animal-loving mayor into action. The beautiful and secure fence is in. The next phase of the project, to build the dogs some shelter inside their new perimeter, is likely to be taken on by the young man’s pastor and his congregation. Of course, Dottie Gantt instigated the initiative, but, Wagener, you are certainly raising the bar for community support!

Of course, temporary foster care is always needed. All you have to do is provide the space and the love. Food, medicine and support are provided. If you have space on your property and in your heart to help with animals needing care and guidance on their way to their forever, loving home, please contact Dottie (564-5231) or PAWS at
Now, PAWS for No-Kill and ask yourself: Are you part of the solution or part of the problem?

A retired organizational problem-solver and radical educator, Joya Jiménez DiStefano is an artist, Servant Leader, co-founder of FOTAS, and founder of PAWS, Inc.

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