By Felicity Powell
Not so long ago Donna Carter, a Wilson County woman, witnessed a cat
thrown from a vehicle. She went to pick the cat up and turns out it was a
very young pregnant cat. “She was injured but she didn’t have any broken
bones,” Carter said of the cat. Carter said she doesn’t have a lot of money
and needed a vet to look at the cat.
“I didn’t start out with all of these animals, but they need
So, she went to For The Love Of Dogs/Animal Wellness Clinic. “They don’t
charge you just to walk in the office,” Carter said. “Dr. Penney, the vet at
For the Love Of Dogs/Animal Wellness Clinic, looked at her and took care
of her injuries. Then she had five kittens. I could not bear to just throw them
away. So, in addition to my other pets, I now have six babies now. The
mother cat is fixed now.” Carter has two dogs, but when her father died,
she took his dog in as well. Carter said the reason she can give the
animals that live with her the proper health care, is because of For The
Love Of Dogs. “I didn’t start out with all of these animals, but they need
Max and Della Fitz-Gerald, founders of For The Love Of Dogs, NC, say
they help people like Carter daily. There are so many people who need
help that the Fitz-Geralds work seven days a week and more than 10 hours
each day. “Vets are in business to make money, “ Max said. “We have our
doors open to help people who want to care for their animals, like Donna.
She did the right thing. She needed our help and Animal Wellness Clinic is
willing to help her.”
Max said many people didn’t begin with lots of pets, but end up taking care
of them because of circumstances.
Max. 74, as an advocate for animals, keeps him on the hot seat. “I am not
under any illusion about how people feel about me,” Max said. “Either you
love me or hate me – I know that. But so many in eastern NC depend on
FLOD to help them keep their pets healthy.” Max and Della said their only
wish is to help animals, not to make money.
“It can cost $50 just to walk into a vet’s office,” Max said. “If you don’t make
a good salary – and many people who live in eastern NC don’t – you can’t
afford to go to the vet. People who have means will tell you they take care
of their animals.”
The Fitz-Geralds say they didn’t deliberately get into the dog rescue
business. “It seemed everywhere you went there was a stray dog or cat,”
Della said. “They would be in an awful condition. We would take them in and get
them healthy. But it seemed around every corner you turned, there was
another stray and another and another.” So, they opened the no-kill shelter.
Della, 71, said soon they realized a spay and neuter program would help
animals live a better life.
Max said that just one female cat can have up to eight cats each time they
get pregnant and can come into heat two to three times a year. And a cat
can have a litter as young as six months old. “It is easy for one cat to have
more than 100 cats in their life time,” Max said. “Female dogs can come
into heat twice in a year and have multiple births. With so many animals not
being spayed or neutered, we are overpopulated with strays.”
Max said that overpopulation costs all Wilson citizens. “Animal control
officers are often called out to capture these strays and when they are not
adopted out, they are killed,” Max explains. “When they are not captured
and killed they get run over by cars, get injured in fights, they get diseases
and die. When they get diseases like rabies, it can devastating effects on
In that one year For the Love Of Dogs/Animal Wellness Clinic spayed
and neutered 955 cats and dogs.
Wellness clinics are held on Wednesdays and in 2016 there were 48 clinics
held. In that one year For the Love Of Dogs/Animal Wellness Clinic spayed
and neutered 955 cats and dogs. There were 161 other surgeries done
from removing cysts to dental work. They adopted out 25 dogs locally and
transported 117 animals to the northeast and took in 98 dogs.
Della and Max said they want to educate the public.
“We want people to
know that preventing their pet from having puppies and kittens is healthy
for their animal,” Della said. “Spaying and neutering is a great way to
reduce the number of unwanted animals roaming the street.
Spaying reduces the chance of a female dog developing mammary tumors while
neutering reduces the chance of tumors in the testicles and prostate
problems for the male dog.
Max said going to a vet to have an animal fixed costs lots of money. “We
are going to fix all five of Donna’s kittens,” Max said. “How would an
ordinary person be able to fix five kittens at a vet’s office?
The Animal Clinic will do it for her. And every Wednesday when we have
a clinic, we have a waiting room full of people who need our help. And we will
help them. Last week Dr. Penney did 27 surgeries and 15 other medical
care procedures – all in one day. ”
Debbie Rouse is the co-founder of an animal rescue group in Wayne
County. Rouse said she doesn’t know what she would do without FLOD.
She said there are many animals that come to them that would be
considered worthless and unadoptable.
“We pull things like animals with skin issues, one ear, one eye,” Rouse
said. “If there was no FLOD, we would not be able to save half the dogs
and cats we do. They have seen animals at their clinic with all kinds of
conditions. And everybody on our team is a volunteer and we wouldn’t be
able to afford to see a vet.”
Max and Della said they get calls every day all times of day and night.
“Many times they just need help caring for their pet,” Max said. “They need
heartworm medicine – which can be very expensive. And heartworm
medicine is necessary.” Della said when a dog is heartworm positive it
means a mosquito is spreading a parasite from dog to dog.
“Mosquitoes carry the parasite, heartworms,” Della explained. “When the mosquito bites
the dog, baby heartworms are sent thru the blood stream. If a dog is not
given heartworm prevention to kill the baby heart worms, they become
adults and consume the heart. Heartworm disease ends up creating both
heart and lung failure. If not treated the dog dies a terrible death.”
“There are many people with many callings in the community,” Max said.
“Some organizations help people who are hungry, homeless, have
illnesses – you name it and there is someone to help. FLOD helps poor
people with their pets. What would happen if organizations didn’t help
people in our community? And what would happen to poor people who just
want a loving pet in their lives if we were no longer here?