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Stacie Knuth gives Remmy, a dog evacuated from the path of Hurricane Dorian, a hug at Piedmont Animal Rescue’s shelter in Mooresville. 

Two local rescue groups are helping the four-legged evacuees from the path of Hurricane Dorian.

Lake Norman Humane staff members braved the outer bands of the storm Thursday to bring 14 cats and 12 dogs to safety from Craven County, and Piedmont Animal Rescue took in more than 70 dogs from Horry County, South Carolina and Carteret County earlier this week.

See all the photos at the bottom of this article

Emily Beebe, director of operations for Lake Norman Humane, said all but two of the animals are available for immediate adoption. Two have medical issues that need to be addressed prior to adoption, she said.

Beebe said they received a call from Best Friends Animal Society Wednesday and asked if they could get the 26 animals from Craven County.

On Thursday, the group made the drive to Craven County. “It was scary,” Beebe said. “We felt Dorian’s presence the entire ride. We saw the news and knew that tornadoes had touched down near Kinston.”

The group was under pressure to get the animals loaded and get back on the road quickly, she said. The bridge in-and-out of New Bern was closing at 3 p.m. “We got across at 2:50.”

Getting the animals back to Mooresville, and to safety, was worth the risk, she said.

Beebe said all of the animals, including the two with medical issues, now can be adopted into forever homes.

Across town, Piedmont Animal Rescue called for volunteers and adopters for the more than 70 animals they took in.

After getting the first group of dogs Sunday, PAR director Jason Benge said, support arrived in many forms – including, by Friday evening, adopters for 17 of the dogs.

Volunteers came as well, showing up at the emergency shelter at 110 Robinson Road, to walk dogs and give them much needed attention.

Casi Benskin was one of those volunteers, and she understood the feelings of the evacuees, since she was one herself. Benskin left her home in Beaufort, South Carolina, under mandatory evacuation orders ahead of Hurricane Dorian.

Coming to stay with family in the Denver area, Benskin decided the best way to use her time would be to help some other evacuees – of the four-legged variety.

Benskin, hearing about the dogs evacuated from shelters in Horry County, South Carolina, and Carteret County to Piedmont Animal Rescue in Mooresville, came to the temporary shelter on Robinson Road to give the canines some much-needed love.

“It’s fun,” she said. “I love dogs, so I wanted to go help.”

Benge said the dogs were being evacuated out of shelters in Horry and Carteret to make space for canines that will need shelter during and after the storm. All of the dogs PAR received were cleared for adoption in the previous shelters and are now looking for homes here.

Benskin was just one of about a dozen volunteers that came to PAR’s shelter Wednesday to walk dogs and give them attention after their journeys to Mooresville.

“I know how they feel,” Benskin said as she walked a young dog.

Nicole Dolce left a house full of family who evacuated from Hilton Head, South Carolina, to lend at hand at PAR. “I saw they need help and I wanted to come and help,” she said.

Tina Brito also saw the social media post about the large number of dogs now being housed at PAR. This was her first opportunity to volunteer for PAR, and she embraced the chance to help. Brito sat down on the floor to cuddle with one of the dogs.

Stacie Knuth, who volunteered for the Humane Society of Iredell before it merged to become Lake Norman Humane, came to the shelter Wednesday with her two children, Matthew and Allie. “We saw it on Facebook and said ‘let’s go help.’”

Both children - who are homeschooled, love animals and, like their mother, volunteered previously at HIS - relished the chance to play with and walk dogs. The activity also gave Matthew a couple of community service hours he needs for high school.

For Allie, this was a chance to do something she plans to pursue as a career later on, her mother said. “She wants to be a dog trainer and work with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder support dogs and police dogs,” Stacie said.

Benge said volunteers like those that came out Wednesday are vital to making sure the dogs get needed exercise and socialization, which will make them more adoptable pets.

And, he said, the community support has come from others. “Lots of people are stopping by and bringing us lunch,” he said.

There are dogs of every size and age available, Benge said.

He said the emergency shelter will be open every day, including today (Sunday), until the dogs are all adopted. The shelter is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. “We’ll be here seven days a week until they are all adopted,” he said.

Beebe said Lake Norman Humane, 2106 Charlotte Highway, normally closed on Saturday, was open and they will be open as usual Monday to allow people the opportunity to adopt some of these animals.

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