Alisa Manzelli, Global Animal

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a Louisiana family had no other choice but to give up their 15-year-old white poodle named Shorty.  Miraculously, seven years later, a passerby going to work spotted the dog wandering along a road in North Carolina. Now his original owners in Louisiana want him back.

A 15-year-old white poodle named Shorty was separated from his Louisiana family in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Photo Credit:
A 15-year-old white poodle named Shorty was separated from his Louisiana family in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Photo Credit:

Staff at the Cabarrus Animal Hospital in Kannapolis, N.C. were able to trace the dog’s microchip to his family in New Orleans.

Dr. Blake Peurifoy, a veterinarian at Cabarrus Animal Hospital has been treating the dog and says the family gave up Shorty to a caretaker shortly after Katrina struck Louisiana in late August of 2005.

“They (the guardians) 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.

It is unclear how long Shorty has been on his own and exactly how he ended up 735 miles from home in Kannapolis, a city in Cabarrus County about 25 miles northeast of Charlotte.

Local news station WCNC said a teenager in Concord called the station on Sunday upon hearing about the dog, claiming his family had been taking care of the dog for the past several years. The caller explained how the dog became lost earlier this month and the family has been searching for him ever since.

The approximately 15-pound dog appeared in rough shape, with infected eyes and soiled, matted fur. “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 family, who were ecstatic about the news.

“They were crying and really happy, really interested in getting the dog back whether he lives another three months or three years,” Peurifoy said.

Vets estimate it will take approximately two weeks until Shorty is returned home. He needs surgery for severe dental disease and has a serious hear murmur that needs treatment.

The hospital is graciously treating Shorty free of charge. Peurifoy said, “I don’t want to add additional hardship to them, because if anyone were to have this dog with it’s heart condition and the condition his mouth is in, it’s like saying, ‘Here. Here’s your sick dog back and you’ve got $2,000 worth of stuff to deal with in his mouth.”

He continued, “I know these people have had the past seven years or so a hard life, thank God I’m not in their position, and we just hope this serves as a sort of a bright spot for them because they certainly deserve it.”

However, the Cabarrus Animal Hospital is asking for the public’s help in hopes that someone will volunteer to help transport Shorty to Louisiana.

The hospital is also advising the public to micropchip pets in order to ensure reuniting with your pet if he/she were to go missing.