OUR TOWNS

Their mission: Helping animals, hope survive

Couple's rescue effort needs support to ensure continued operation

JOHN A. ANDERSON

I am always in awe of those people who not only profess a strong faith, but also quietly lead their lives in ways that serve as a compelling example to the rest of us.

James and Donna Fowler are such people.

They live on a large farm in the rural part of Waxhaw, and their personal mission is animal rescue. Their business is Heaven's Own Kennels, where they board animals, but the kennel is a means to a greater end. Donna Fowler told me that they rescue animals, particularly dogs, in emergency situations. (No owner surrenders, please.)

In the past year or two, they have nursed 30 animals back to health from starvation, neglect and worse, and then found them new and loving homes where they enrich the lives of their adoptive families.

I was horrified when Donna told the stories of how they came to rescue some of their charges. As an example, Donna related that some people moved off to Myrtle Beach and left a chow locked inside a kennel. The neighbors were alerted by her pathetic barks and yelps.

"When we rescued her, what little water she had was green, her food was full of bugs and worms, and she had been locked up for several days," Donna said.

People are sometimes afraid of chows, but Donna says this one was the sweetest dog ever. There's a happy ending. The chow was adopted by a family in Tennessee who lives on a lake, and she is blissfully happy in her new life.

When the Fowlers rescue an animal, they do everything required to change its life and make it an adoptable pet. Dogs are nourished, spayed or neutered, brought up to date with all immunizations, and most important, loved and taught to trust people.

Sugar the "van dog" was another sad story with a happy ending. One day, an Australian shepherd mix came up the road, so skinny and undernourished that her ribs and shoulder blades stuck out visibly from her body. James was able to coax her into a crate, and when they got the dog home, they took at least 90 ticks off her body. The vet told Donna that he was skeptical about her chances of surviving, but Donna said that she "saw something in her eyes."

She nursed and fed the dog, and when she brought her back a month later, the vet declared it a miracle. Today, Sugar rides in the kennels' van whenever she can and seems to be a permanent part of the Fowler household.

Anyone who has a dog knows that this is a labor of love and a significant expense.

Donna told me that the Heaven's Own rescue effort gratefully accepts donations, and cash is not the only way. Soft blankets, big towels and other suitable clean forms of bedding are also needed. A local Girl Scout troop adopted Heaven's Own for a service project and collected pet food, treats and grooming supplies. Donna said that it "was like Christmas around here."

When I asked how she found adoptive families, Donna related that many find their way to her through Petfinder online at www.petfinder.com. Petfinder.com turns out to be an excellent way to match potential owners with animals that really need a home. So is a visit to the Heaven's Own Kennels. Just this minute, Heaven's Own has six dogs and a llama that are awaiting homes.

If you want to help James and Donna Fowler, call 704-254-0354 or e-mail them at heavensownkennel@carolina.rr.com. Board your dog there, adopt a rescued animal or make a donation of money, bedding or dog supplies. Their need for outside support is acute at this time because the county is insisting that they add a separate septic system for the kennel -- a huge, unanticipated expense.

OUR TOWNS

Drop Me a Line

If you have something to share about Waxhaw, e-mail: John Anderson janderson@charlotteobserver.com I welcome photos (make sure everyone is clearly identified left to right). Drop them in the mail to 132. S. Main St. Monroe, NC 28112 or e-mail them as a JPEG file. Be sure to include a daytime phone number. John A. Anderson




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