AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – Better late than never. After a week’s delay due to the threat of Tropical Storm Ian last week, Aiken’s new “Love To The Rescue” wall was officially dedicated on Thursday at Osbon Laundry & Cleaners on Pendleton Street in downtown Aiken.

The special wall of art honors all rescues and adopted shelter pets. It is the brainchild of animal advocate and Friends Of The Animal Shelter (FOTAS) volunteer Betty Ryberg.

“When I started the Love to the Rescue Wall, I solicited donors to submit photos of their rescues – from anywhere – to be celebrated and painted by Aiken County high school students, independent art students and local artists for an outdoor mural downtown,” Ryberg said. “It speaks so strongly of the identity and character of our community that we were flooded with photos and tributes.”

There are stories behind every rescue animal painting on the wall. Some serve as tributes to rescues who have passed away after long being part of a family. Others honor pets who are currently bringing joy and love into their new homes after being saved and given a second chance for a good life.

“We received so many wonderful photos of rescued pets from their owners and now they will be forever celebrated through these beautiful paintings,” Ryberg said. “The wall will feature dogs, cats, horses, a parrot, bunnies – some with crooked faces, an underbite, one eye, ears bigger than their heads. They were found and saved from the side of highways, under dumpsters, chained to trees…so many deplorable conditions…and most were adopted from animal shelters located all around the country.”

There are still some slots open, so if you would like to have your rescue pet painted and hung on the wall for a small donation, please contact Betty Ryberg by sending an email to info@fotasaiken.org.

The project is a fundraiser for FOTAS. Donations for the project will go to FOTAS, which rescues and rehomes more than 4,000 animals per year. Before FOTAS was established, the county’s live release rate was only 9% but last year it was 93%, with every adoptable animal saved.

“This wall is a celebration of our precious rescue pets and the money raised will benefit the countless homeless animals at the county shelter,” Ryberg said.