Inspiring stories prove any furry friend can have a fresh start with the right family
A pet brings tremendous joy into our lives. Ask any pet owner to share a story about their cat, dog or other animal and their face lights up.
Acquiring a new pet can be an adventure, but there is something special about adopting a pet from a local shelter. Shelter pets who need new homes are there for many reasons—from their past owners’ financial hardship to abuse and neglect cases. Pet adoption is important because it saves an animal from being euthanized, and makes room in the shelter for another pet who needs a new home. But most importantly, it gives that animal a second chance.
The stories behind pet adoption are inspiring, endearing and heartwarming. We asked the Lynchburg Humane Society to share some of their memorable recent matches to hopefully inspire you to open your heart, and your home, to a four-legged family member.
A lifetime shelter dog finds his soul mate
Barney was a veteran at the Lynchburg Center for Pets—he spent three years waiting for the right person to take him home. But Barney didn’t just end up in Stuart Smith’s home, he fell right into his heart.
Stuart had just moved back to the Lynchburg area from Charlotte. He needed a fresh start, a new beginning and a new lease on life. He also needed a companion to help him on this journey.
A chance encounter with Barney and his foster parent at the restaurant where Stuart worked is where their story began. As soon as Stuart laid eyes on Barney, he had to say hello. “Then I got to talking with his human and [found out] he was fostering the sweet guy, and he was up for adoption. With that comment, Barney started leaning his whole weight on me like he felt safe, and he melted my heart,” he says.
Stuart took Barney home that day.
But it wasn’t an easy adjustment. Barney had been a shelter dog since he was a puppy and needed to learn how to be a regular dog. He was a bit timid at first and Stuart says his behavior was erratic. He chewed up a lot of things and needed to learn boundaries. But after a few weeks of training, Barney made progress. “With the structure and discipline he’s gotten over the last year, we’ve developed good routines to keep both of us active and healthy,” says Stuart.
Today Barney is a happy dog who loves car rides and being the center of attention. He has changed Stuart’s life forever. “He reminds me constantly that if we stick out the hard times, like his three years of waiting for the right home, good times are going to come.”
From fat to famous
The Sterne family has a lot of experience with pet adoptions. They already had a dog and three cats, all from the Lynchburg Center for Pets, so it was no surprise when 17-year old Madalyn wanted another animal. She fell in love with a giant cat she found online—the only problem was that cat was in Chicago, and her mother Wendy thought it was a bit far to travel.
As luck would have it, waiting for them right here in Lynchburg was Venti. Venti came to the Lynchburg Center for Pets after his owner passed away. He was an enormous 32 pounds—they decided to rename him Leo. “It took Leo no time at all to get used to us,” Wendy says. “At first, he stayed in my daughter’s room, but soon he ventured out and now he follows Madalyn around everywhere.”
Leo also claimed his spot on the family ottoman and displayed his true personality—loveable, friendly, playful and chatty. He loves to chase his favorite toy, a ball on a string; if you talk to him, the family says he will talk back.
The Sterne family decided to make him famous! LeotheLionCat32 on Instagram has more than 10,000 followers. They also have paid special attention to his health—Leo has lost more than four pounds so far on his new diet.
The best date ever
Clifford Stumme was ready for a dog, so he convinced his wife to accompany him to the Lynchburg Humane Society for a date night, which led them to Galaxy.
Since Galaxy was rambunctious and wary of new people, the staff kept her in the back of the shelter so they could keep a closer eye on her and earn her trust. Clifford had a special feeling about this dog and wanted to foster her for a few days to see how it went.
On the car ride home, timid Galaxy rode in the backseat. Once home, she destroyed all of her toys and would not even come near Cliff. But on the third day at their home, she snuggled right up to her new owner and they became fast friends.
Recognizing that Galaxy was smart and active, the Stummes tried out different activities to help her thrive. Clifford soon discovered that frisbee is Galaxy’s love language. She loves to fetch, she loves to run and, since she is part Australian cattle dog, she loves to herd. One of her favorite toys is a large ball that she pushes around the yard. “Each animal is different and each requires some figuring out how to make the relationship work,” he says. “Galaxy takes time to warm up to strangers and would be a good guard dog. But if you give her time to get comfortable, she is a great dog.”
Their adoption went so well the Stummes had another date night at the Lynchburg Center for Pets, ultimately bringing home Strudel, a seven-month-old beagle. They report that brother and sister are adapting well to each other.
Dog hits the foster family jackpot
Jackie Mosley is the epitome of a rescuer—adopting pets from multiple shelters in the area and opening her home to the neediest of pups through fostering.
Cash, a 10-year-old black and tan dog with intervertebral disc disease, caught her eye at the Lynchburg Center for Pets. He came to Lynchburg from another shelter in Virginia that was unable to find him a home. Cash needed special attention because he uses a wheelchair to help him get around due to paralysis of his back legs.
Cash hit the jackpot with the Mosley family because they immediately began working on his back legs to increase their muscle mass. A sling helped hold him up so he could work on supporting himself and adjusting his foot placement. “After just a few weeks of working with Cash he is able to fubble around which has turned into a shaky walk. Each week he becomes stronger, and he is truly walking on his own now!” Jackie says.
The Mosley family is playing an important role for Cash by fostering him—it gets him out of the shelter and provides the one-on-one attention he needs.
For those who aren’t in a position to permanently adopt a pet, Jackie strongly encourages fostering because it is just as inspiring. “Each foster makes a real difference in the life of any animal they step up for,” she says. “As fosters we learn compassion, empathy, patience and love. The ones we take in learn to trust and become ready for forever homes.”
Interested in Adopting? Here’s What to Expect!
When visiting the Center for Pets, make sure you bring a photo I.D.
If you meet a pet you are interested in, shelter employees will talk with you to see if it is a good match.
All adoption prices include spay/neuter, an engraved I.D. tag, initial vaccines, a free vet visit, and 10% off at the Center for Pets retail shop on the day of adoption. The Center for Pets can also place animals on “hold” with a fee.
Find prices for each available dog or cat, and much more information, at lynchburghumane.org.