Palm Coast - Some say the best animals in life are rescues.
They've endured both the darkest and brightest sides of life and yet still maintain their remarkable unconditional love for their humans. As residents of Palm Coast, some may have seen their share of rescue animals over the years. But what's known about the people who help save them?
Here's the story of "Journey," a female hound/terrier mix who had recently been spotted roaming Palm Coast for weeks. After observing her boney structure and limp, neighbors in the L and B sections turned to the city of Palm Coast's animal control officers and the Facebook page 'Lost and Found Pets of Palm Coast & Flagler County,' determined to help capture and heal the dog.
"We're always hopeful to quickly contain a lost dog to save it from more harmful conditions, find its owner or foster it for possible adoption," said Heather Priestap, one of the city's animal control officers. Priestap and a partner city animal control officer, Shelley Burton, search to help find rescue animals nearly every single day. They're passionate about their responsibility and they put their hearts on the line to connect with each of their individual cases. Burton conveys how much our dogs and cats need love and her job is not to simply go out to 'catch' abandoned animals. "We recover them to care for them with a human touch," she expressed.
Palm Coast resident Caroline Johnson and her Lost and Found Pets of Palm Coast & Flagler County Facebook page has evolved into a bonus teammate in this rescue mission. When she's contacted about a stray, Johnson solicits help from Priestap and Burton to augment her own search. She also posts photos and flyers around the community to amplify her quest. Together, Palm Coast's Animal Control Division and the Facebook page work to not only save an animal, but also try to educate pet owners on how to emotionally and financially care for their dog or cat. They remind people to remember the reasons they originally chose to love their pet and to understand there are options for any medical conditions that may arise. Giving owners the tools to empower their decisions makes for healthy, happy relationships.
"Bottom line, when people understand our team is simply a kindhearted lifeline to help them, they're more than willing to report a stray or missing animal," Johnson states. "It's great to have the cooperation of this community, alongside Palm Coast's Animal Control, to be concerned as much as I am."
And what finally happened to Journey? After she swam through freshwater canals and crossed some busy roads, the team was able to surround her in a residential yard. They drove her to the Flagler Animal Hospital where she was treated for digestion issues, malnutrition and wounded foot pads. As usual, the entire staff at the animal hospital took special care of her and instantly named her "Journey" because of the traveling she endured. She recuperated at a local Sophie's Circle Rescue foster care home, while preparing for a healthy, blissful adoption.
Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever. Thankfully, Palm Coast's Animal Control and the lost pet page are changing the lives of stray animals. Animal Control can be contacted at 386-986-2520. To reach the lost pet Facebook page, use the hyperlink above or call them at 386-264-2288.
Photos Courtesy: Caroline Johnson