FOTAS: Incredible medical magic at the County Shelter | Feature columns

Why has the Aiken County Animal Shelter been so successful in rescuing so many adoptable animals? Credit goes to Aiken County Council, the shelter’s dedicated management and staff, an army of FOTAS volunteers, and the generosity of the Aiken community.

But the foundation of this success depends on one important factor: the residents of the shelter are healthy enough to make good pets when the time comes. This is why the quality of County Shelter’s medical staff is so critical, and in this regard, Aiken County’s homeless animals are singularly fortunate.

For eight years, residents of the shelter have been assessed, vaccinated, spayed, spayed, treated for scabies, worried and cared for from injuries large and small by the shelter’s full-time veterinarian, Dr. Lisa Levy, whose exceptional expertise and big hearts have made the difference between life and death for so many animals.

Recently, Dr. Levy handed over the full-time baton of the shelter’s medical program to an equally exceptional veterinarian, Dr. Nancy Rodriguez. Nancy is no stranger to the fast-paced, high-stakes practice of shelter medicine. She has practiced in other CSRA public establishments for most of her career.

She’s also no stranger to empathy. For years, she was one of two consulting veterinarians for Lap of Love, which provides euthanasia, consultation, veterinary hospice and in-home pet loss support. There is a special place in heaven for people like Nancy, who help us all deal with the seemingly unbearable loss and grief of our pets. (She continues to be especially responsive to the needs of senior dogs at the shelter, who are often overlooked by adopters.)

Dr. Rodriguez brings all of this expertise and great love to the shelter, where every day brings different medical issues calling for quick fixes. Many animals recovered by animal control or released to the shelter are in various states of physical distress, ranging from routine neglect to abuse or jaw-dropping injuries.

They may be covered with fleas, ticks or scabies. They can be desperately hungry – so thin you can see their skeletal structure. They may have broken bones from abuse or circumstances (like being hit by a car). They can be positive for heartworm.

The large percentage have probably never received basic health care such as vaccinations or flea, tick and heartworm prevention medication.

“I love the element of surprise,” says Nancy, “the challenge of working on medical emergencies of all kinds.”

Nancy is impressed with the quality of the shelter’s medical program.

“It’s wonderful,” she says, “to see all the good that can be done when there are enough resources to really care for animals.”

Amen. FOTAS takes great pride in working with the county to ensure the proper medical equipment and services are available for every animal – everything from lab tests to x-ray machines, heartworm treatment medications, specialized care if necessary, to the reception medical services to recover animals.

It takes passion, patience, expertise, and resources to care for Aiken County’s homeless animals, and the county shelter has it all in spades. The Refuge’s remarkable success rate is possible because of the accomplished medical care provided by Dr. Levy and now Dr. Rodriguez. We thank them for their incredible service.

Their lives are in our hands.