Recently I took a ride with a county officer to a lovely country home with a large fenced area off the back. The place was immaculate.


As we pulled in the drive, we were greeted by an older dog, a big plump female with a graying muzzle. Then a couple of more dogs approached. The announcements were going out, and, as we neared the gate, the chorus of barks grew.


The approach-avoidance dance was taken up by countless numbers of dogs, black and tan, shaggy and short coats. Some had little hair at all. The dogs with skin issues were in a pen within a pen.


There were puppies. There were mammas that looked like they had just finished nursing, or maybe still were. It looked like a huge tribe or family reunion.


There was not a whiff or remnant of dog poop anywhere, just way too many skittish dogs.


Moments later the owner and his wife pulled up in a Ford pickup that was more than 30 years old and looked like it had just been driven out of the showroom. I was greeted with a big grin and a firm handshake.


The officer I was with got a hug from the energetic octogenarian with a full head of white hair. The old man still had the build of the Marine that he’d been in 1955. He cares for all those dogs because they show up, because they were there, and because that was what God expected him to do.


The ex-Marine receives $768 a month income, and he spends nearly $200 on dog food. We agreed to start by spaying the females. I had to make him take a 50-pound sack of dog food that I happened to have in my car.


This is an extreme example, but it makes a point. There are a lot of animal-loving, hardworking, servants of the Lord in our communities who need some help. PAWS (Palmetto Animal Welfare Services) averages about 40 calls a month on our SNYP (Spay/Neuter Your Pet) hotline.


People in and around Aiken County are looking to have their pets fixed or to do something about the cats that just show up at their door.


We conduct a qualifying interview. Most qualify. Some we can refer to other subsidy programs like city or county vouchers or Lenny’s Brigade for community cats. Most are low-income county residents who have more than one pet.


PAWS-4-SNYP pays for their surgeries at the SPCA in Aiken. For a $20 copay, the rabies vaccine and a microchip are thrown in. All the applicant has to do is make the appointment. If need be, we will transport.


One fertile cat can have three litters a year; a dog can have two. An intact male dog can sense a female in heat within a mile in any direction. You can confine them, but it will drive them nuts. If they get to go, they may die in the road. It is an itch that demands to be scratched. If you have read this far, you probably already know most of this, so let me tell you what we can offer you.


On Oct. 18, the SPCA is sponsoring its second Barkaritaville Fun-Fun-Fundraiser. One of the components of the daylong extravaganza is called “The Twilight Walk.”


The SPCA has agreed, again this year, to designate all funds raised by the PAWS-4-SNYP Team to our Spay/Neuter account. We are asking you, our readers and compatriots, to help us raise $10,500.


Last year, with your help and generosity, we raise just over $3,000 in a little over two weeks. This year we are bigger and better and have six weeks to work on our goal.


PAWS is a 501(c)(3) all-volunteer public charity whose mission is to assist any and all animal welfare efforts in and around Aiken County to end the unnecessary killing of impounded companion animals.


Our motto is “Unwanted litter prevention and well-homed pet retention.” We have three major objectives – affordable and accessible spay neuter services for household pets and community cats, heartworm treatment and prevention and last-chance rescues for treatable animals.


Our vision is that Aiken County will be the first no-kill county in South Carolina. The resources are in place to achieve it. Together we can save them all.


PAWS is relying on this fundraiser to fund our SNYP surgeries through the end of this year. We cannot do it without your help. If you believe in our cause, here are some options:


1. Go to www.crowdrise.com/pawsforsnyp/fundraiser. Once there, you can simply click on “DONATE” and follow the impulse of your generous spirit.


2. Create your own fundraiser for the PAWS4SNYP cause and join the team. Just click “THE TEAM” button above the mama dog’s head. There are prizes for great results. At the very least you can win your own commemorative T-shirt and a fun night out.


3. Send us a check made out to PAWS4SNYP and put twilight walk in the “For” line. Send it to P.O. Box 392, Aiken, SC 29802 and we will enter your donation for you.


4. Go to our website www.paws4nokill.org and hit the SNYP donate button. That will put you into Paypal and you can write “Twilight Walk” in you comment. We will submit your donation for you.


The Aiken SPCA has shown wonderful support for PAWS’ efforts to provide affordable, accessible spay/neuter services to every household with pets in Aiken County.


We are proud to support their best efforts on behalf of animal welfare in our county and beyond. As the big event approaches, they and PAWS will be bringing you more information and incentives to get involved. For more information, visit www.letlovelive.org and find Barkaritaville and the Twilight Walk.


Do you know how you can save 100 dogs or 100 cats? Spay one. Please join us. You won’t regret it. There are a lot of people and animals counting on our help all over Aiken County.


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