CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On the heels of our new Pet of the Week feature, we're also launching a feature dedicated to the shelter animals out there and the stories of how they found their way from the pound to their "furever" home. First up is the new Kanawha Charleston Humane Association 2014 Spokespet, Augie.
Augie is a nearly 4-year-old mutt who was adopted from KCHA in April 2010, when he was just 8 weeks old. As Spokespet, he'll serve as the shelter's ambassador at community events such as adoption drives and parades as well as appear on fliers and other media on behalf of the shelter.
He almost didn't make it out of the shelter, though.
Caitlin Hays met Augie when she was a volunteer. He, his littermates and his mom all had been dropped at the shelter because the previous owners could no longer afford their care. During one of her volunteer sessions, Caitlin spent time in the cage with Augie and his family, removing the ticks that covered them.
"Two days after that, I was there and he came over and put his paw up on the cage door and gave me his puppy eyes. I picked him up, took him over to the counter and filled out the paperwork," she said.
Augie was ready to be sent to the vet to be neutered, but his brother had other plans. When Caitlin and her sister, Chloe, arrived at the vet to pick him up, they got a surprise.
"They brought the dog out, and [Chloe's] face just lit up," Caitlin said. "She said, 'He's the cutest dog I've ever seen!' My face fell. I said, 'That's not him.'"
It turns out the paper collar that had Augie's vet information had come off, and the wrong male pup was sent. Augie's brother hadn't been neutered, though, because he was too sick with an upper respiratory infection.
When Caitlin and her sister returned the shelter, they learned the dog would be put to sleep because he was sick and contagious. Augie was sick as well and likely would have met the same fate.
"I said we'd take both of them," Caitlin said.
Her sister adopted Augie's brother and named him Roscoe. The sisters live near each other, so the brothers get to play together regularly. Augie also has a canine sister, Holly, rescued from a rural North Carolina shelter through a group in Maryland, as well as two feline brothers -- Roderick, from the Putnam County Animal Relief Center and Linus, from KCHA. He provides big-brother services to all the pets Caitlin fosters too.
"You can think that you're opening up your heart and home, that they really need me and I'm saving them," Caitlin said of her shelter animals, "but truthfully, it's the other way around."
Reach Amy Robinson at flips...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4881.