Dogs found by side of road by Aiken father and son doing well after being rescued
A decision to help three young stray dogs caused Aiken residents Wayne Heath, and his son, Chase, to miss the Clemson-N.C. State football game on Oct. 20.
And even though they didn’t get to see Tigers crush the Wolfpack 41-7, “we’re real happy about how it’s all turned out,” said Wayne on Monday.
Two of the three dogs – Faith and Spirit – have found forever homes, and the other, Hope, is in foster care in Aiken and recuperating from surgery to repair a hip injury before being made available for adoption.
“It was a collaborative group that came together and made it all happen,” Wayne said. “We’ve had a lot of support. Picking up those dogs and spending time with them have led to a lot of happy results.”
Wayne and Chase were traveling to Clemson Memorial Stadium in a Dodge Journey crossover SUV when they saw a puppy standing beside a road between McCormick and Abbeville.
The Heaths had an extra hamburger after getting something to eat in Edgefield, so they decided to stop and feed the dog.
“We went down a side road, and he followed us,” Wayne told the Aiken Standard. “Then all of sudden, his two siblings came running out of the woods.”
The puppies – two females and a male – were skinny and covered with ticks, so the Heaths thought it would be a good idea to catch them and drop them off at an animal shelter in the area.
But that plan didn’t work out.
“We were able to get two of them in our car right away,” Wayne said. “But the third one, one of the females, was very elusive.”
The Heaths spent hours trying to capture her, so they never made it to the football game. When they failed, they returned to Aiken with the two puppies that were in their vehicle.
Then the Heaths went back the following day to get the one left behind.
The Heaths’ pursuit of the dog began around 11 a.m., and it was after sundown before Wayne managed to grab one of her legs while he was lying on the ground and she was crawling toward him.
Soon afterward, the Aiken Standard published a story about the puppies, which the Heaths were keeping at Wayne’s business, Wayne Heath Automotive Co. on Richland Avenue, while they decided what to do with the animals.
Chase works for Wayne Heath Automotive Company as a sales consultant.
Wayne, Chase and Wayne Heath Automotive Company employee Mareese Starrak, who helped the Heaths take care of the puppies, named the male Spirit and the two females Faith and Hope.
“We had people that reached out, and we had people that made donations,” Wayne said. “We set up a Go Fund Me page for Hope and got contributions for her surgery.”
Two organizations played key roles: Last Chance Animal Rescue in Southampton, New York, and Paws Onward Inc. of Aiken.
In an email to the Aiken Standard on Dec. 2, Last Chance Vice President Judith Langmaid wrote that Faith and Spirit came to Last Chance through Paws Forward, which works as an animal rescue partner with Last Chance, after Langmaid saw the Aiken Standard article on Facebook and reached out to offer assistance.
Annette Van Der Walt of Paws Forward coordinated the effort with the Heaths and Starrak to get the dogs transferred to Last Chance, according to Langmaid’s message.
“Faith has been adopted to a wonderful family after a short time with a foster in New York,” Langmaid wrote. “Spirit was adopted by a teacher and his family.”
Faith has been renamed Willow, Langmaid reported.
Last Chance plans to help find Hope a forever home after her recovery from surgery is complete.
Said Wayne of Faith and Spirit, “Who would have thought that they would go from the side of the road to forever homes in time for Christmas?”