Nose for adventure: New program gets Sarge's shelter dogs hiking

Monday mornings have a bad reputation, but for dogs at Sarge’s Animal Rescue Foundation in Waynesville, they’ve become the best part of the week. Since the Adventure Tails program launched Nov. 1, these mornings have been set aside for hiking — and the dogs are all about it. 

Protecting pets during Coronavirus Pandemic

As the nation focuses on protecting the human population from contracting and spreading COVID-19, mandatory business closures have impacted the humans who’s mission it is to take care of our pets. 

Wreath hanging kicks off Home for the Holidays

A wreath was recently hung at Haywood County Animal  Services to kick off a special animal adoption event called Home for the Holidays.

“We recruited Jamie Powell, executive director of Sarge’s, and Tammy Watford, news anchor from WLOS-TV who is a long-time supporter of Sarge’s and participates in the annual Downtown Dog Walk, to hang the wreath to officially kick off an adoption promotion that will enable people to adopt a shelter pet for a lower than usual adoption fee,” said Connie Hewitt, promotion coordinator.

Sarge’s Animal Rescue Foundation and Aidan’s Fund will pay a portion of the adoption fee through Jan. 2, reducing the price to $60 for dogs, $37.50 for female cats and $27.50 for male cats.

Each adopted animal will have its name placed on a stocking hung on the wall inside the shelter.  

“We already have Tater’s stocking hung,” said Hewitt. “Tater is a 10-month-old Australian Cattle dog who was adopted the day after the promotion began.”

“The majority of animals surrendered to the shelter or turned in as strays are loving, great animals that will make wonderful pets,” said Hewitt. “We hope that our reduced adoption fees will encourage people who are looking for a pet this time of year, to look at the shelter first.”

The Haywood County Animal Shelter is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays; and noon-4 p.m. on Sunday. It is closed on Thanksgiving and Dec. 24-25.

For more information call Sarge’s Animal Rescue Foundation at 828.246.9050

Sign up your team for Downtown Dog Walk

For the first time, Sarge’s Animal Rescue Foundation invites teams as well as individuals to sign up for the 5th Annual Downtown Waynesville Dog Walk on Aug. 7.

Last year, almost 280 dogs walked down Main Street. The fun begins at 10 a.m. when walkers meet at the Haywood County courthouse.

The route will be from Depot Street to Montgomery Street to Church Street then returning down Main Street back to the courthouse.

Contests for registered dogs and their owners who walked will be held upon returning to the courthouse. The contests, emceed by Jeanne Naber, will be Best Dressed, Best Tail Wagger, Best Trick and Owner-Dog Look Alike.

The two judges for the contests are Brian Hatfield, afternoon host of 99.9 Kiss Country radio, and Larry Blunt, News Anchor at WLOS-TV. Both judges will bring their dogs and walk with the crowd.

Sponsors receive up to three free T-shirts and free dog walk registration for one dog.

Pledge sheets accompany registration forms and prizes will be awarded for the most money collected by a team and by an individual.  There will also be a prize for the runner-up in each category.

Registration forms are at The Dog House located at 304 N. Haywood Street in Waynesville, Sarge’s office at 1659 S. Main in West Waynesville, veterinarian offices in Waynesville, Clyde and Canton, and online at


Dixie dog transport saves lives

With the euthanasia rate at area shelters fluctuating between 50 and 70 percent, animal rescue advocates are literally going the extra mile to save pets that haven’t been adopted.

Each month, local volunteers load crates of cats and dogs into a white van and drive through the night to deliver the animals to freedom in New Jersey, where no-kill shelters are starved for adoptable companion pets.

Last week, Ellen Kilgannon of PAWS Animal Shelter in Swain County and Annie Harlowe of the Jackson County Humane Society took their turn at the wheel. Together they drove 30 animals 700 miles from Sarge’s in Waynesville to Common Sense for Animals, an animal shelter and nonprofit adoption service in Stewartsville, N.J.

Kilgannon helped develop the Dixie Dog Transport program through a relationship she had with the Connecticut Humane Society in 2005.

“In the Northeast, it’s a cultural thing where spay/neuter is the norm. People just do it, and because it’s such a high population area, there’s actually a deficit of companion pets up there,” Kilgannon said. “With the opposite situation here in the South, we’re able to create a win-win situation. It’s been a saving grace for us.”

Once in New Jersey, dogs like Dakota, a tiny pit bull mix found in the snow in Haywood County, and Lily, a one-eyed hound that had spent the last two months in foster care, are shoe-ins for adoption.

Common Sense for Animals holds adoption open houses each Saturday, and the pets don’t hang around for long.

“When we do the transports, all of the dogs –– including the hounds –– are being adopted within a week,” Kilgannon said.

So far this year, Sarge’s has transported 123 animals to Common Sense, and ARF has sent 109.

Last year Sarge’s transported more than 500 animals north. The transport program has made a huge impact on the euthanasia rate in Haywood, Jackson, and Swain counties. In 2004, less than one-third of the animals that came to the Haywood County Animal Shelter made it out alive. Now, almost half survive.

Driving the animals north saves them from languishing in foster care or being euthanized. But the arrangement is also a reminder that the culture of pet-owning in Western North Carolina needs to change to include the spaying and neutering of family pets and hunting dogs.

Steve Hewitt, president of Sarge’s Animal Rescue in Waynesville, stressed that the number of unwanted animals in local shelters is the result of a complex of issues.

“It’s not a North/South thing,” Hewitt said. “It’s easy to point the finger, but it’s not a simple issue.”

In the meantime though, more than 500 hundred dogs and cats will get a new lease on life thanks to a hardened set of volunteers determined to deliver them to freedom.

“It’s well worth the sleep deprivation, and we’ll keep doing it for the animals as long as there is a place to take them to,” Kilgannon said.

Sarge’s scraps plans for Hall Top shelter

By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer

Sarge’s Animal Rescue has scrapped its plans to build a no-kill animal shelter in a location that was fiercely opposed by nearby residents.

The Haywood County non-profit originally won approval to build the shelter on Oct. 9 by asking the board of aldermen for a text amendment that would allow for animal shelters to be a permitted use in the Hall Top Road Rural District, a residential area located off Russ Avenue near K-Mart in Waynesville.

Shelter plan irks Hall Top residents

By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer

It’s a typical neighborhood with houses, trees, bikes in the yard, a basketball goal and — an animal shelter?

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