Rescued Brunswick County dog fetches new life with new owners

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By Laura Lewis, Reporter

SUNSET BEACH—Three months ago, Callie the dog was homeless and suffering from heartworm at Brunswick County Animal Shelter.

“We pulled Callie out of the Brunswick County Animal Shelter, put her in our foster program and worked with her until the Pernos decided to adopt her,” said Cheri McLain, founder of Rescue Animals Community Effort, a local nonprofit animal advocacy group hoping to eventually privatize the shelter on Green Swamp Road.

Callie, a golden retriever/Lab mix, was enrolled in RACE’s program and also underwent heartworm treatment, which “kind of slowed her up,” McLain said.

She credits RACE foster mom Barb McLane for seeing something special in Callie.

“She’s just a very gentle and calm dog,” Cheri McLain said.

“She’s supposed to be my dog,” Barb McLane, a resident of Sunset Beach, quipped as she, McLain and other local animal advocates gathered at the island gazebo last week with Callie’s new owners, Rick and Mary Perno.

Cheri McLain fostered Callie at her house in Shallotte “because she was a heartworm patient, and we had to keep her quiet,” McLain said.

The Pernos, of Bear, Dela., and Ocean Isle Beach, welcomed Callie into their “pack” already consisting of golden retrievers Maggie and Abby. The Pernos are actively involved with Paws for People, a pet-assisted volunteer service program.

One of their dogs, Abby, is a rescue from Virginia who has advanced training.

“She has her canine good citizenship award; she has the governor’s award, and she also has her master’s certification,” Mary said. “She’s one of 10 out of 400 that has a master’s.”

Abby’s status enables her to go into hospitals to visit with patients.

The Pernos’ hope is to enroll Callie in similar training.

“She’s being well taken care of,” Rick Perno said. “Maybe she’ll get trained for therapy.”

“She’ll be going to obedience class first,” added Mary, who calls Callie “our new daughter.”

Their hope is Callie will qualify for Paws for People, too.

After being tested and passing the basics, she’ll be able to have advanced training.

Once she’s passed advanced training, “she can go into hospitals,” Mary said.

 “She’s sweet and she’s calm,” Mary said. “She slept right next to me last night.”

Callie has already adapted well to her new home and canine sisters, Maggie and Abby.

The Pernos said they wanted Callie because they fell in love with her after seeing photos of her provided by a friend who lives in Ocean Ridge Plantation.

“We couldn’t leave a dog that needed a home,” Rick said.