Onslow residents are successfully reuniting with their furry friends at the county animal shelter, where more than 1,000 animals were adopted last year.
“I think the best thing you can do is save them,” Jacksonville resident Maria Olander said. “It’s so sad in there, when you walk in you hear them crying. I just want to take them all home.”
According to the Onslow County Government Facebook page, more than 1,000 animals were adopted in 2021 by Onslow County Animal Services, and more than 250 were donated to rescue organizations.
Additionally, animal services reunited 461 dogs and 105 cats with their owners.
They hope to have a similarly successful year in 2022, but so far things are off to a slow start.
“We currently have 20 dogs available for adoption, five cats,” said animal care specialist Laurie Hubik. “It’s a constantly changing number. It seems like a lot of our dogs have been here longer than usual lately. We’re doing pretty well with the cats, which is good because kitten season coming soon.”
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For those who have already adopted animal services, like Olander, they say it’s one of the best things they’ve ever done.
‘Just something about her’
Olander has adopted animal services twice, once just a month ago. The first one she adopted nearly three years ago, a terrier mix named Melo.
“My friend was actually a foster home for the shelter and she posted a photo of Melo,” Olander said. “They were preparing for the hurricane (Florence) and she was taking it in. I don’t even know what it was, because I wasn’t looking for a dog at the time, but there was just something about her and we just fell in love.”
Olander and his family adopted Melo, and they’ve been in love with her ever since, saying she’s the best thing that ever happened to them. She said Melo was quite social and a bit territorial, so they figured she needed a little sister.
“So with the second one, we kind of talked about it, but it was nothing set in stone,” Olander said. “I saw Lilo’s picture, and again, there was something in her face, she was so sweet, and again, it was automatic. We fell in love.”
Lilo is a Dachshund mix.
“She’s a very good dog,” Olander said. “We are also happy that we were able to save her.”
Another who found her baby at animal services is Aslyn Angulo, who had her dog, Honey, in September. She had thought about adoption for a long time and decided she wanted her other dog to have a sibling.
“At first she was very scared of everything and everyone, she didn’t play or bark at all,” Angulo said. “Eventually, however, she really bonded with me, she became close to my husband, she loves her brother, they play all the time. She goes running in the yard and she barked here and there. She has become so comfortable with it. She is happy now and I couldn’t have asked for anything else for her.
“I cried to get out of the shelter”
Jacksonville resident Marti Domke adopted her walking dog, Pudge, in 2018.
She had to put her poodle, Penguin, down in 2016 and said her heart and home felt empty without a dog.
“He was a bit shy and seemed happy to be out of the kennel as he ran around sniffing everything,” Domke said. “I told them that I would need to ‘sleep on it’ but that I would let them know tomorrow. When he returned to his kennel he immediately got up on his bed and looked at me as if to say “She don’t you want me either. I cried my way out of the shelter and the next day I went to the shelter after work and adopted her.”
Domke said Pudge was a great addition to their family.
“He chewed his fair share of shoes, books and blinds, as well as a few loaves of bread and cookies that were on the counter,” Domke said. “Overall, this boy has brought us so much joy and love. He has a great personality and all he wants is love, to be walked around and eat treats.”
Domke’s advice to anyone looking to adopt is to do your research.
The welcome course
One of the other great helpers to animal services are their foster families, and Susan Passey knows all about fostering, as she has for the past six years.
“I want to give the animals a boost before they find their forever home,” Passey said. “Often there is an adjustment period from the shelter and providing temporary housing helps them adapt and do better. It also makes them feel wanted.”
When Passey moved to Onslow six years ago, she had recently lost her two old age dogs, which made her not ready for another dog. The placement was a happy compromise.
“I saw firsthand that there was a bigger problem with animal overpopulation here in the south, so I decided to favor it,” Passey said. “The people who work there have a tough job and anything I can do to help them help the animals is my goal.”
And, yes, Passey gave in and adopted a few of the puppies she adopted.
“I dove in and took in a mother with a litter of five puppies,” Passey said. “I noticed the mother was tired and needed a little TLC so I took her to a separate room from the puppies and started brushing her. Let’s just say she fell in love from me instantly and when it came time for her to be adopted, I couldn’t let her go, she became a permanent member of my household.
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She also adopted a pit bull puppy from a cruelty case who she says is one of the best dogs she has ever had.
In total, Passey has taken in over 150 animals from Onslow Animal Services.
“If you’ve ever considered fostering, it’s the most rewarding thing you can do,” Passey said. “All the animals I raised will be in my heart forever.”
Your next best friend?
If you’re considering adopting, Hubik said the shelter currently has two Chihuahuas, a Labrador Retriever puppy, several mixed-breed dogs, and a few dogs.
The shelter provides the animals already sterilized, microchipped and with their first series of vaccines.
“It helps the community because many people in the community find themselves unwittingly unable to care for their animals,” Hubik said. “And so you help people who find themselves in these situations unexpectedly and who have to give up their animals.”
To further help support more animals at the shelter, Passey started Paws 4 Purpose, which sponsors heartworm treatments for newly adopted dogs from Onslow County Animal Services.
She said they also provide spay vouchers to the public and host free veterinary clinics for Onslow County residents who cannot afford veterinary care. She also said they would be holding free vaccine and microchip clinics in March.
“Neutering/neutering their own pets helps reduce the number of thousands of puppies and kittens entering shelters in the area, as most of these offspring are from unexpected litters,” Hubik said. “Spring is upon us and now is the time to schedule these surgeries. Anyone can contact the shelter to discuss low cost options.”
For more information, visit onslowcountync.gov/animalservices or call 910-455-0182.
Journalist Morgan Starling can be reached at [email protected]