Dogged determination

Published 12:51 pm Wednesday, August 19, 2009

By Staff
The Betsy Bailey Nelson Animal Control Facility in Beaufort County lost more than a mascot when Whaddamess died Thursday. The animal shelter lost a living example of its mission.
A stray dog from Belhaven, he suffered from heartworms, skin allergies and Lyme disease. It was obvious that no one had been caring for the dog, which wandered the streets before finding a home at the animal shelter. As shelter officials and volunteers liked to tell anyone who asked about the dog, Whaddamess’ name was not meant to be derogatory. Instead, Whaddamess was given his moniker because of the love he elicited from those who cared for him at the animal shelter.
Whaddamess soon became the symbol for all stray animals in the county. Several adoption attempts failed, resulting in Whaddamess returning to the animal shelter for a long stay. Sandy Woolard, the county’s chief animal control officer, adopted Whaddamess, making him the chief “canine officer” on her team.
Whaddamess became a working dog. His responsibilities included making personal appearances at many events at the animal shelter, visiting schools and taking part in Christmas parades and Pets on Parade.
“Whaddamess also played an important role in testing shelter dogs for their ability to ‘play well with others.’ If they passed the Whaddamess Test, they had a much better chance of being adopted, especially to a family with children,” reads a testament written about Whaddamess.
Children who met Whaddamess at their schools often brought their families to the animal shelter to visit him. Some of those families left the animal shelter with dogs or cats they decided to adopt, the testament notes.
That alone makes Whaddamess worth remembering and honoring.
There’s no doubt Whaddamess earned his keep and helped make the animal shelter a better place for the animals and public it serves.
Whaddamess is gone, but his legacy will continue to help the animal shelter carry on its mission. Perhaps his accomplishments explain why dogs are considered man’s best friends.
Whaddamess is gone, but he will not be forgotten.