Onslow residents are succeeding in finding their furry friends at the county animal shelter, where more than 1,000 animals were adopted last year.
“I think that the best thing that you can ever do is rescue them,” said Jacksonville resident Maria Olander. “It’s so sad in there, when you go in, you hear them cry. 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 from Onslow County Animal Services, and more than 250 released to rescue organizations.
In addition, animal services reunited 461 dogs and 105 cats with their owners.
They’re hoping to have just as successful of a 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. “That is a changing number constantly. It seems like quite a few of our dogs have been sitting here longer than usual lately. We have been doing quite well with the cats, which is good, because kitten season will be coming soon.”
For those who have experienced adopting from animal services, such as Olander, they say it’s one of the best things they’ve ever done.
‘Just something about her’
Olander has adopted twice from Animal Services, one just a month ago. The first she adopted nearly three years ago, a terrier mix named Melo.
“My friend was actually a foster for the shelter, and she posted a picture of Melo,” Olander said. “They were getting ready for the hurricane (Florence) and she was fostering her. I don’t even know what it was, because I was not looking for a dog at the time, but there was just something about her and we just fell in love.”
Olander and her family adopted Melo, and they’ve been in love with her ever since, saying she’s the best thing that’s ever happened to them. She said Melo is kind of social, and a little territorial, so they figured she needed a little sister.
“So with the second one, we had kind of talked about it, but it was nothing set in stone,” Olander said. “I saw the picture of Lilo, and again, there was something about her face, she was just so sweet, and again, it was automatic. We fell in love.”
Lilo is a dachshund mix.
“She’s a really good doggie,” Olander said. “We’re also just happy we were able to rescue her.”
Another who found their baby at animal services is Aslyn Angulo, who got her dog, Honey, in September. She had thought long about adoption, and decided she wanted to get her other dog a sibling.
“She was originally super scared of everything and everyone, she wouldn’t play or bark at all,” Angulo said. “Eventually, though, she grew really attached to me, she became close to my husband, she loves her sibling, they play all the time. She’ll run around the yard and she’s actually barked here and there. She’s become so comfortable with us. She’s happy now and I couldn’t have asked for anything else for her.”
‘Cried my way out of the shelter’
Jacksonville resident Marti Domke adopted her walker hound, 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 kind of shy and seemed to be 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 went back to his kennel, he got right back on his bed and looked at me as if to say, ‘she doesn’t want me either.’ I cried my way out of the shelter, and the next day I went to the shelter after work and adopted him.”
Domke said Pudge is a great addition to their family.
“He’s chewed up his fair share of shoes, books and window blinds, as well as helped himself to a few loaves of bread and cookies that were up on the counter,” Domke said. “All in all, this boy has brought us so much joy and love. He has a great personality and all he wants is love, to be walked, and to eat treats.”
Domke’s advice to anyone wanting to adopt, is to do your research.
The fostering route
One of the other big helps to animal services are their fosters, and Susan Passey knows all about fostering pets, as she’s been doing it for six years.
“I want to give animals a leg up before they find their forever home,” said Passey. “Oftentimes there is an adjustment period from the shelter and to provide a temporary home helps them to adjust and be more successful. This also allows them to feel like they are wanted.”
When Passey moved to Onslow six years ago, she had recently lost both of her dogs to old age, making her not ready for another dog. Fostering was a happy compromise.
“I saw first hand there was a larger issue with pet overpopulation here in the south so I decided to foster,” Passey said. “The folks that work there have a tough job and anything I can do to help them help animals is my goal.”
And, yes, Passey has caved and adopted a couple of the puppies she’s fostered.
“I dove right in and took in a mom with a litter of five puppies,” Passey said. “I noticed the mom was tired and needed a little TLC of her own so I brought her in a room separate from the puppies and started to brush her. Let’s just say she fell in love with me instantly and when it came time for her to be adopted, I couldn’t let her go. She became a permanent member in my home.”
She also adopted a pitbull puppy from a cruelty case that she said is one of the best dogs she’s ever had.
In total, Passey has fostered more than 150 animals from Onslow Animal Services.
“If you ever considered fostering, it’s the most rewarding thing you can do,” Passey said. “All of the animals I have fostered will be in my heart forever.”
Your next best friend?
If you’re thinking of adopting, Hubik said the shelter currently has two chihuahuas, a Labrador Retriever puppy, multiple mixed breed dogs and some hounds.
The shelter provides the animals already spayed/neutered, microchipped and with their first set of shots.
“It helps the community because there are many people in the community that unintentionally find themselves not being able to care for their animals anymore,” Hubik said. “And so, you are helping people that get into those situations unexpectedly, and need to give up their animals.”
To further help support more animals at the shelter, Passey started Paws 4 Purpose, which sponsors the heartworm treatments for newly adopted dogs from Onslow County Animal Services.
She said they also provide spay/neuter vouchers to the public and host free vet clinics for Onslow County residents who are unable to afford vet care. She also said they’ll be hosting free vaccine and microchip clinics in March.
“Spaying/neutering their own pets helps reduce the thousands of puppies and kittens entering area shelters, as most of these offspring are from unexpected litters,” Hubik said. “Spring is upon us and now is the time to get those surgeries scheduled. Anyone can contact the shelter to discuss low cost options.”
For more information, visit onslowcountync.gov/animalservices, or call 910-455-0182.
Reporter Morgan Starling can be reached at [email protected]