03/31/13 — Meeting, loving, helping animals

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Meeting, loving, helping animals

By Renee Carey
Published in News on March 31, 2013 1:50 AM

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Doug Culton hugs his newly adopted boxer, "Rose," as they bond during the Animals in Wonderland fundraiser held Saturday in downtown Goldsboro.

Jennifer Moye isn't scared of going to the animal shelter.

And she doesn't want you to be either.

That's the reason that she decided to join forces with Dr. Charles Zwerling, founder of the Heritage Dance Foundation, to see if she could make a difference.

This weekend's Animals of Wonderland events included not only a play about animals and compassion -- written by Dr. Zwerling -- but also the chance to meet Wayne County Animal Adoption and Education Center animals as well as other others from local rescue groups at a special morning event, A Morning Wonderland.

The ultimate goal, Mrs. Moye said, is to get more people to do what she and others do every day -- adopt a homeless animal from the shelter.

"A lot of people do not like to go to the shelter because they think that it is scary," she said. "But it isn't. It is a nice facility and everyone there has big hearts."

Her trips to the shelter have added four new family members to her household -- two dogs and two cats.

"I love them to death," she said.

But on her visits to the shelter she noticed that volunteers and shelter staff work hard, but they cannot possibly manage to get every animal outdoors for exercise as often as they would like.

So, Mrs. Moye came up with an idea -- outdoor runs so the animals could have time outside, off the leash, safely.

When she heard Dr. Zwerling had always wanted to do a production about animals, the two ideas -- a benefit for the animals and an animal-centered performance -- seemed the perfect fit.

Two of those "animals" are Jo Ann and Marty Barbour, both accomplished ballroom dancers, who were ready to volunteer when they heard about the Animals of Wonderland performance.

Dressed as a pair of sophisticated cats -- one a fuzzy angora and the other a tuxedoed black dandy -- the pair picked a very fitting song to accompany their Viennese Waltz around the dance floor -- "What's New Pussycat."

Both said they jumped at the chance to be a part of the effort.

"It sounded like fun," Mrs. Barbour said.

She added that the event also allowed the couple to show off their passion -- ballroom dance, a sport they say has many benefits for people of all ages.

"I have never seen anything else that gives a man more self-confidence than dance," Mrs. Barbour added.

The pair are planning to share their love of dance with young people -- a new way to get them exercising and "off the couch," Barbour said.

But on this day, they had just one goal.

"It is all about the animals," the couple said.

Not everyone who attended Saturday's event was there just for fun, though.

Nox, the nearly 3-year-old Belgian Malinois, and her handler Deputy Dan Truhan, of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office K-9 unit, were on hand to meet the people and to share a little bit about what they do each day.

Nox is a drug dog and is also trained in other skills like tracking and article search.

She operates under a series of commands -- in another language -- which tell her not only when to go to work, but what her handler expects.

She and Truhan have been working together since September -- and on her second official day on the job, she found methamphetamine in the trunk of a car.

K-9 officers and their handlers have to do eight weeks of training, Truhan said, and Nox is considered a deputy just like her human coworkers.

"If someone were to shoot her or hurt her, it would be considered assault on a law enforcement officer," Truhan said.

He said Nox is still new to the business, but is serious about her work, a characteristic of her breed.

"These dogs have such a strong drive, you can't just leave them in a house," he said. "If you don't give them something to do, they will find something to do."

Truhan said Nox is an athlete. She has been clocked at 29 miles per hour.

He added that dogs like Nox are very valuable to law enforcement and can be key components in search and rescue.

"If you have a resident of a care home wander off, she could find them," he said.

The Sheriff's Office currently has four dogs like Nox in its unit.

Money raised from this weekend's event will first go toward the outdoor runs. Anything leftover will be placed into a spay and neuter fund, which will offer vouchers to local pet owners who want to spay or neuter their pets.

If you couldn't make the weekend activities, there is still a chance to donate to the cause. Send a check to the Heritage Dance Foundation, 107 S. Center St., Goldsboro, N.C. 27530. A special fund has been set up there for the benefit.

And, Mrs. Moye said, don't forget about the animals waiting for homes in the Wayne County Animal Adoption and Education Center.

"I believe if you want to broaden your family, there is no reason not to consider the animal shelter," she said. "The perfect dog or cat of your dreams just might be there waiting for you."