By NBC News staff
A dog given up in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina seven years ago has been found wandering along a road in North Carolina, and its original owners in Louisiana say they want him back.
The 15-year-old white poodle named Shorty has a microchip and staff at the Cabarrus Animal Hospital in Kannapolis, N.C., were able to trace it to its family in New Orleans.
The family apparently gave up Shorty to a caretaker during or shortly after Katrina struck Louisiana in late August of 2005, flooding much of New Orleans after levees failed, said Dr. Blake Peurifoy, a veterinarian at Cabarrus Animal Hospital who has been treating the dog.
“They (the owners) were hit really hard during Katrina. They lost their home and didn’t have the ability to take care of their dog so they gave it away. They don’t know where it went from there,” Peurifoy told NBC News on Sunday.
The story of the dog’s discovery was first reported by WCNC-TV.
It’s unclear how Shorty eventually ended up in Kannapolis, a city in Cabarrus County about 25 miles northeast of Charlotte and about 735 miles northeast of New Orleans. It’s also not known how long the dog has been on its own.
WCNC said a teenager in Concord, N.C., called the station on Sunday upon hearing about the dog in the news. The teen said his family had been taking care of the dog for the past several years, according to the TV station. The dog became lost earlier this month and the family has been looking for it ever since, the caller said.
A passer-by going to work spotted the dog wandering along a street in Cabarrus County about two weeks ago, Peurifoy said.
“The gentleman said it was walking in the middle of street. He dropped it off and asked if we could take care of it.”
The approximately 15-pound dog looked in sad shape, its eyes infected and its fur soiled, matted and crusted from head to toe. “We cleaned him and clipped him up, gave him a bath and turned him back into a white dog,” Peurifoy said.
Staff at the animal hospital then contacted the original owners.
“Apparently they were ecstatic about the dog. They were crying and really happy, really interested in getting the dog back whether he lives another three months or three years,” Peurifoy said.
Veterinarians estimate it’ll be about two weeks before Shorty is healthy enough to be released. Peurifoy said Shorty needs surgery for severe dental disease and also has a heart murmur.
The hospital is treating Shorty free of charge but is hoping someone will volunteer to help transport Shorty back to Louisiana.