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Rose the dog gets a new home at home

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John Rouse with his dog Rose, outside of his home Saturday, June 17, 2017.


By Beth Velliquette
The Daily Reflector

Monday, June 19, 2017

GRIMESLAND — The first thing Rose the dog did when someone tossed her a treat in her new digs was scratch a small hole in the dirt, drop the treat in then push grass and pine straw over it with her nose.

Rose, a friendly bulldog/pit bull mix, was making herself at home in her new fenced yard behind her owner’s home on Grimesland Bridge Road.

She and her owner, John W. Roach, were the lucky recipients of a new 10-by-20-foot enclosure with a tarp roof and a brand new doghouse, courtesy of grant money from Maddie’s Fund, Pitt County Animal Services and the Pet Food Pantry of Eastern North Carolina.

With the $5,000 in grant money, Michele Whaley, director of Pitt County Animal Services, and the Pet Food Pantry are trying to help unchain dogs and put them in a fenced area so they have a little more freedom to move around.

Roach is the second resident to receive the fencing for his dog, Rose.

He nearly lost Rose. She had already had two sets of puppies, and Roach hated keeping her on a chain or rope. He said he couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like to be roped to a stake all day, so he let his dog run loose.

“To be in the same place all the time didn’t feel right,” he said.

Somebody in the neighborhood, however, apparently complained about it, he said.

“The dog man came out for her and picked her up,” he said. “I didn’t know where she was.”

Then he saw the note stuck to his door saying his dog was at the shelter, so he went and got his Rose back for $110, he said.

“I said nobody is going to get her again,” he said. “I put her on the leash then.”

But sometimes Rose would get tangled up with the rope, get it wrapped around her leg or around a nearby pole. He wished he could buy a fence for her, but his finances weren’t right, he said.

Still, he loved the dog he had raised from a puppy and wanted to keep her.

“Love her?” he said. “If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have gotten her out of the dog pound. She was raised in the house, but she got so big we had to take her out here.”

The folks at the animal shelter knew he took good care of Rose. She was strong, healthy and friendly, and they wanted to help him give her a better life.

That’s where the grant money came in. He was one of the first applicants, and as part of the process, he first had to get Rose spayed.

Then, on Saturday, staff and volunteers loaded up trucks with the fencing, pavers and a new donated dog house and drove to Grimesland.

Within an hour, the fence was up, the pavers laid down and the tarp roof was in place, and Roach was leading Rose to her new compound. She was a bit reluctant to go in at first and needed a little push, but once inside, she wandered around sniffing everything, then buried her little treat, wagging her tail the whole time.

Whaley said some people have criticized the program in the past, saying that people who can’t afford to take care of their dog shouldn’t own one. But people’s circumstances change and keeping dogs at their homes works out much better for everyone than packing them into the animal shelter, she said.

Kristen Below, co-founder of Pet Food Pantry of Eastern North Carolina, agreed.

“It’s much easier to keep a pet in its current home than have an owner have to give it up,” she said.

Roach is the second person to benefit from the grant. The first person who received a new fence was a man with cancer, Whaley said. 

The dog owners aren’t bad pet owners or they wouldn’t have applied to receive the fences. They just can’t afford a fence, which costs between $750 to $1,000, she said.

Some have lost their jobs or gotten sick and can’t work. Helping people keep their pets makes a huge difference at the shelter, she said.

“We’re simply giving low-income pet owners a helping hand,” Below said. “Everyone deserves that connection with their pet.”

The $5,000 grant will allow them to help five pet owners, maybe six, if they’re able to save a little money here and there. In Rose’s case, they saved money by using a coupon at Lowe’s Home Improvement, where they bought the materials, and by the donation of a brand new dog house.

Whaley hopes some businesses or people will donate to the cause.

Meanwhile, Roach watched Rose sniffing around in her new yard.

“I think it will be a good thing because she can run around like she wants,” he said.

Contact Beth Velliquette at bvelliquette@reflector.com or at 252-329-9566.