CABARRUS COUNTY--A Cabarrus County vet is asking for the public's help in returning to a dog who was separated from his owners following Hurricane Katrina. The dog, Shorty, was taken to Cabarrus Animal Hospital after a man spotted him in a roadway about two weeks ago and is a long way from home.
"We traced the dog to Louisiana and thank goodness the gentleman did not change his cell phone number,” said Brenda Tortoreo, the receptionist at Cabarrus Animal Hospital.
The news was exciting for his original owners, who had to give Shorty up seven years ago, following the disaster in New Orleans.
"It was hard enough for them to get through Katrina, let alone trying to provide for their dog, and they felt and they still do, felt they did the right thing by finding him a proper home,” said Tortoreo.
Nearly half of Shorty's life later, they're ready to be reunited.
"He did tell me whether he lives on this earth for three months or three years, they would love to have him back,” said Tortoreo.
But it's been a long journey for the dog.
"He looks like a white poodle now, he obviously looked more gray or black at the time. Very, very matted coat, matted eyes, could barely see out of his eyes,” said Dr. Blake Peurifoy of Cabarrus Animal Hospital.
While no one knows how he ended up in the Tar Heel state, Peurifoy says Shorty currently has a severe heart murmur and some very serious oral disease that they're going to take care of for the family first.
"I don't want to add additional hardship to them, because if anyone were to have this dog with it's heart condition and the condition his mouth is in, it's like saying, 'Here. Here's your sick dog back and you've got $2,000 worth of stuff to deal with in his mouth,'” said Peurifoy.
Then, once he's healthy in a couple of weeks, he'll head home.
"We're trying to get the dog so far, maybe to Atlanta, and Atlanta someplace else. It's just really important to us to get this dog back to the proper owner,” said Tortoreo.
They're asking for the public's help. They want to hear from anyone who can step up and let this little guy hitch a ride back to his home state.
"I know these people have had the past seven years or so a hard life, thank God I'm not in their position and we just hope this serves as a sort of a bright spot for them because they certainly deserve it,” said Peurifoy.
The Cabarrus Animal Hospital says the best way to ensure you will be paired up with your pet again if anything ever happens to it is to microchip the animal. They say things such as collars or tags can easily come off, but in cases such as this one, the microchip is what helped them track down the original owners.