08/19/07 — New shelter program helps create families

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New shelter program helps create families

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on August 19, 2007 10:08 AM

Curious George cowered when spoken to and shivered silently as Jodi Head bathed him. She took him straight to the veterinarian for shots -- still shivering, still scared.

But when the terrier-mix opened his eyes the next morning, he had a new name and a new home.

He got his first name from his stay at the Wayne County Animal Shelter staff.

Ever-curious, the stray was always into something, they said.

"He was all over everywhere," Mrs. Head said they told her.

The only thing he couldn't find was a home.

The Head family had a need of their own.

They lost their beloved German shepherd. It was tough, and Mrs. Head didn't really want another dog.

But her son, 10-year-old Stanton, had other ideas.

"I was on vacation and said, 'let's go.' We went to the pound and walked through. I didn't notice him at first. Then I turned around, and there he was looking up at us with those pretty brown eyes. We fell in love."

Now, Curious George has become Sparky -- one of many unwanted and abandoned pets who are finding new families through the adoption program at the shelter.

That was in April. Once unsure about adding a new pet, Mrs. Head and Stanton wouldn't be without Sparky -- he is one of them now.

"I could have looked the world over and never found a better one," she said. "He's good-natured and loves everybody. It's like 'OK, here I am. Somebody needs to play with me.'"

Not every puppy is lucky enough to find a home. There are hundreds each year who are euthanized -- alone and scared, and unable to find homes quickly enough.

That was almost the fate for a husky-mix mother and her litter of 10 pups.

They were on the death list when Susan Wheeler of Diamonds in the Ruff rescue found her.

Mrs. Wheeler and her sister, Terri Moore, found a volunteer to pick up the death-row family, and today, the mother is living with a marine biologist in Greenville. A rescuer from Faison has taken five pups, and Diamonds in the Ruff has found homes for the others except for Randy and Ryder, who are in foster care.

The puppies are 4 months old now, and one of them, Ashlyn, lives with Allison Porter and her family, which includes two dogs and two cats.

Ashlyn means "little dream" in Gaellic, said Mrs. Porter, who spotted the pup at a pet adoption held by Diamonds in the Ruff at Pet Supplies Plus one Saturday.

She was on her way to the store for some dog food when she saw Ashlyn sitting with Mrs. Wheeler.

"There was something about her. I took her for a walk, and Susan said, 'You need to take her home.' I said no. I thought there's no way my husband is going to let me," Mrs. Porter said.

The next thing she knew, the pup had climbed into the tote bag she carries as a purse.

Mrs. Porter called her husband.

He said no, as predicted.

But as she was getting ready to leave the store, her cell phone rang again.

"Get your kid," her husband said.

Melissa Kenton and her husband, Matt, were together when they spotted Ashlyn's sister, Kaylie.

But it was 7-year-old Nicolette who cast the deciding vote.

Now, Kaylie is part of the Kenton family.

"They didn't let us have her right away," Mrs. Kenton said. "We filled out an application. They called our vet to make sure our other animals were up to date on their shots. We couldn't believe we had to wait. What do you mean you're going to check our references -- and do home visits?"

Diamonds in the Ruff makes sure adoptive parents will take care of their new pets. They do not want to put an already traumatized dog through another abandonment. Applicants have to show that their new dog will become a well-loved and well-cared-for member of the family.

Now, Mrs. Kenton helps with placements. She is a Diamonds in the Ruff volunteer.

Since then, she has added a black Great Pyrenees mix named Maggie to her home.

She said she is glad she gave the pound puppies a chance.

They are part of her heart now -- and part of just about every family trip.

The family still goes everywhere together. That includes Maggie and Kaylie.

But the three cats have to stay home.