ROXBURY, NJ – It was “Welcome to Roxbury” tonight for nine dogs and 14 cats from North Carolina that arrived at the Eleventh Hour Rescue facility in Succasunna.
The animals came from shelters in two North Carolina counties ravaged by Hurricane Florence. Awaiting them were people, from Roxbury and elsewhere, who responded to the animal rescue group’s recent social media plea for foster families.
“We drove down there on Friday,” said Eleventh Hour Rescue President Linda Schiller. The animals she and two helpers brought back were in shelters before the hurricane hit or were surrendered by their owners right afterward, she said.
“We helped take some animals out of the shelter so they can make room for all the other animals displaced by the hurricane,” Schiller said.
A black and white chihuahua named Jolene was among the transplants. She found a foster mom in Marianne O’Keefe of Succasunna.
“They put out a plea on Facebook … I just wanted to help out and do my part,” said O’Keefe, noting she never before taken in a pet as a foster parent.
While she spoke, veterinary technician Rosanna Lopez gave little Jolene a once-over, scanning for fleas, cleaning her ears and teeth, giving her a de-worming pill and taking notes. O’Keefe said she was excited, as was her 8-year-old daughter, Madison, who knew about the plan to take in a North Carolina dog but didn’t know it was happening tonight.
“If she knew, she wouldn’t go to bed,” explained O’Keefe who did, however, bring along her dog Millie. O’Keefe said there’s a chance she will adopt Jolene, depending on how things go at home. “If she’s a good fit for my family, I won’t mind at all,” she said.
Schiller said North Carolina was a mess. Roads were being washed away by flooding rivers. "It was so horrible trying to get around," she said. "You'd be on a highway a half-hour before, come back and get diverted for two hours because the rivers were cresting."
On the bright side: The response Eleventh Hour Rescue received to its request for foster families. "We got inundated with foster applications," Schiller said. "We put out a plea on Facebook and the community responded in an amazing way. It reminds us there are more good people than bad when you see the outpouring of help and the donations of supplies. People are good. They want to help. They just need to find out how."