ST. PAULS — After 14 months at the Robeson County Animal Shelter, the last of the Hurricane Matthew dogs is heading to a new home.
Knox, a shepard mix believed to be around 2 years old, was one of more than 200 dogs and cats that were rescued and taken to the shelter in the aftermath of the storm.
“Our goal was to find all our animals homes and reunite them with their rightful owners,” said Jason Allison, the shelter’s manager. “Most were successful, except for Mr. Knox.”
On multiple occasions, it seemed that Knox would finally find his new home. However, three people who showed interest in Knox throughout his stay at the shelter backed out of the deal.
His eventual adopter, Ronald McQueen, came to the facility and took a liking to Knox. However, it wasn’t an easy goodbye for the staff at the shelter. Knox had become a part of their family.
To show their appreciation for the dog, the shelter prepared a gift basket for his new owner. It included an assortment of essential supplies for Knox, such as a leash, bowls, food and toys.
It wasn’t just staff members at the shelter that had a connection with Knox. He has become a local celebrity recently, as members of the community came to realize that he was the last rescued pet from the storm.
“He’s a fan favorite,” Allison said. “I could go into a local store and everyone would ask, ‘how’s Knox doing? Did Knox get adopted yet?’”
The goal of finding Knox a home carried a deeper meaning for the staff. Allison referred to the adoption as the “fulfillment of a promise.”
That promise was to let the animals live while the staff nurtered them for as long as the adoption process took.
“Some of these dogs were floating in water, some of these dogs were on tops of cars, some of these dogs were in very bad situations,” Allison said. “It was a compassionate gesture to try and find these animals a home.”
Approximately 120 of the rescued animals were reunited with their respective owners, while the rest found new families through the adoption process. The shelter used social media, newspapers and word-of-mouth to assist in their efforts.
“Robeson County Animal Shelter was the central base command,” Allison said. “If you had an animal, a dog or a cat, that was lost in the storm, your first point of contact would be here.”
Knox, who is described as a “happy, energetic”dog that loves attention, represented the last piece of a challenging predicament that began with Hurricane Matthew. Staff members at the shelter are taking the lessons they learned from the disaster and applying them to preparations for any similar incidents in the future.
“The most important thing we got out of that is to be more prepared,” Allison said.
Reach Brandon Tester at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Tester_Brandon