New lives for pups: Finding homes for 147 dogs no simple task
By Kathy Chaffin
Rowan County Animal Control gets calls every week from people asking for an officer to pick up their pets.
“They either don’t want them, can’t afford them or can’t control them,” said Animal Control Officer Tommy Staton.
In the case of a Rockwell couple who called the first week of September, they had health problems and financially couldn’t afford to care for their dogs anymore ó all 147 of them. “They realized with the circumstances they were under that it was best for the animals to find new homes,” Staton said.
The couple bred dogs, most of them poodles and schnauzers, to sell on the Internet, Staton said. It took Animal Control officers three trips to pick up all the dogs.
What happened to those displaced dogs is a testament to the dedication of Rowan County animal lovers and various area rescue groups.
Just under a month later, Staton said all but two of the dogs ó both young schnauzers ó have either been adopted or placed with animal rescue groups for future adoption.
“It was just amazing how fast we were able to find homes for them,” he said. “It was good for us and the animals, too. We really thank everybody for doing it.”
As news of the displaced dogs began to spread by word of mouth, volunteers with Faithful Friends animal rescue group and the Rowan County Humane Society began networking to try to find them homes. After hearing about them from Animal Control office manager Fran Pepper, Faithful Friends board member Jeanne Dennis sent out a mass e-mail to area animal lovers and rescue groups.
Bob Bishop of Granite Quarry received the e-mail and decided to adopt a puppy poodle mix as a birthday gift for his wife, Carrie.
“She’s about 4 months old,” he said, “and I think she’s more poodle than anything else. She’s white with tan ears.”
Carrie named the puppy “Bella,” which means beautiful in Italian.
Though the puppy was very withdrawn when they first got her, Bob said Bella is now very friendly and will go up to everybody. “She’s just loving all the pampering she gets,” he said.
And his wife, whose birthday is on Oct. 1, said she’s thrilled with her gift.
“It was absolutely great,” Carrie Bishop said. “I had gotten a dog when I was 13 for my birthday and that turned out to be a friend that lasted for probably 16 years.”
Bella, it seems, “is very similar to that dog,” she said, “so it’s very nice to get another dog for my birthday years later that I think will be a lasting friend for many, many years.”
Carolina Poodle Rescue ended up taking in 44 dogs at its Dreamweaver Ranch kennel near Spartanburg, S.C.
“We’ve been calling them the Salisbury 44,” said Sue Wortman of Salisbury, a volunteer for Carolina Poodle and Faithful Friends.
Wortman said she was contacted by Carolina Poodle director and founder Donna Ezzell about two poodles placed on an adoption Web site by Rowan Animal Control. Ezzell was concerned that the dogs could be euthanized and asked her to check on them.
“That’s how it all got started,” Wortman said.
When Wortman went to the Animal Shelter to check on the dogs, she found there were 14 more poodles and poodle mixes needing homes. She told Ezzell, who agreed to pay the $70 adoption fee for each one.
In the process of calling back and forth trying to arrange for transportation, Wortman said she mentioned the 10 schnauzers and schnauzer mixes which came in with them. “She said, ‘Get those also,’ ” she said.
Wortman and other Faithful Friends volunteers helped transport the dogs to Dreamweaver Farms on Sept. 6 and even assisted with grooming them. “They were really, really stinky and matted,” she said. “Their coats were in terrible condition.”
When fellow Faithful Friends volunteer Lynda Errante asked if Carolina Poodle Rescue could take in 20 more dogs if someone would donate the money for their adoption fees, Wortman again called Ezzell, who said yes.
On Sept. 12, Wortman said she and other volunteers delivered the final 20 of the Salisbury 44.
So far, only one, a poodle-cocker spaniel mix, has been adopted. Another, a poodle named Suzette with a condition in its hind legs that will require surgery, has been placed in a foster home.
“All of the dogs are basically socialized,” she said. “We were amazed, there were only about three or four that were thin. The rest of them were in pretty good shape, and they were all negative for heartworms.”
Wortman said some of the dogs have already been spayed and neutered. “And now that they’re clean and happy,” she said, “they’re ready to go to their forever homes.”
Most of the dogs had to be completely shaved, so Wortman said they won’t be advertised on various pet adoption sites until they can be photographed with hair.
Cabarrus CARES, another animal rescue group, also adopted some of the dogs. Errante said Patsy Beeker of Cabarrus CARES took in the two poodles and one cocker spaniel that were nursing puppies.
Though one of the puppies had a serious infection and had to be euthanized Friday morning, Beeker said in an e-mail to the Post that the other 10 should be placed over the weekend.
One has been promised to a man who brought his 15-year-old daughter by last Saturday to look at them. “He showed me a ‘Wanted’ poster,” Beeker said. “Three years ago, his wife abducted their baby and abandoned the rest of the family.
“Dad had been promising this girl a puppy as soon as they got their life back together again, and for her birthday, that’s all she wanted. I drove home and got her a puppy.
“I hope I can always remember the look on her face.”
Animal rescuers Terri Welch and Melody Patterson also took in four dogs apiece.
Errante said, “Everybody just stepped up to the plate. It was amazing.”
Dennis said the quick way the community responded to the dogs in need shows what can happen when people work together for a common cause. “That’s something we hope to be able to continue in the future,” she said.
Anyone interested in adopting the two schnauzers can read more about them in the “Pals with Paws” feature in Sunday’s Post. The e-mail address for Carolina Poodle Rescue is email@example.com.