|Rocky Photo: Nathan Gray|
The world turned upside down recently for a dog named Rocky. His owner, a serviceman from Anderson, South Carolina, is being deployed. And Rocky is left behind. He needs a home. FAST. He's got only 21 days to find that home.
Inside a cage at Anderson County’s animal shelter, the shy tan and white Labrador-shepherd mix does not compete with his neighbors for the attention of visitors. He won’t run up to the door of his cage and stand on it, begging to be let out. He won’t whine or wag his tail, at first.
But he does appreciate a visitor who will take time with him. And after a few minutes of gentle encouragement, he will burrow his head into the nearest person’s lap.
Rocky was surrendered to the staff at Anderson County’s animal shelter three weeks ago, when his owner, whose name is kept confidential under shelter rules, found out that he would soon have military orders to leave the country.
But the 3-year-old dog could not be put on the shelter’s adoption floor at first; it was already crowded.
This week, Rocky made it to the adoption floor, with his own cage and a bright yellow mat to stretch out on. If he is not adopted, he has 21 days left to live.
Brande Kupfer, who handles day-to-day operations at the shelter, said the staff typically gets at least a dozen dogs a year that are surrendered by military families.
“There are foster programs that are out there for military families with pets,” Kupfer said. “But most of the time, what we hear from families is that they don’t know how long they’ll be deployed, how long they’ll be gone. It might be six months. It might be a year or even longer. They don’t want their dog to get used to living with another family for a year or two, and then suddenly, their owner comes to reclaim them. It’s a shock. They would rather leave their pet at the shelter and hope that another family adopts it.”
The reality is that most of the dogs and cats that come in to Anderson County’s animal shelter don’t get adopted. Of the 14,000 animals that come in every year, 70 percent of them will be euthanized instead of adopted.
This week, the animal shelter advisory committee briefly discussed the possibility of creating a county policy that any pet surrendered by a military family would be fostered until the deployed could come home. Rocky’s arrival was the catalyst for that discussion.
If such a program did exist, officials said, no dog or cat that belonged to a military family would be fostered without its owner’s consent.
But so far, the program is just an idea; it would have to receive the blessing of the county council to become a reality.
In the meantime, Rocky is up for adoption, wearing a red cloth collar, and a separate tag that identifies him only as animal No. 1103448.
Contact the Anderson County PAWS animal shelter at 864-260-4151. The adoption fee is $65 which includes vaccinations and neutering.