On Saturday, September 24, 2011, one of Phoenix’s own animal welfare organizations, AZ Small Dog Rescue, had the honor of setting the stage for the reunion of a young Texas soldier and his dog, Seymour.
Seymour, an adorable “Benji” dog, was found a thousand miles away, in Madera County, California, from Specialist Ryan Rivera. Specialist Rivera, an Army soldier, is stationed in Fort Bliss, TX, and had adopted Seymour about a year ago from a shelter. His mother was taking care of Seymour during her son’s training deployments, but when she became very ill from chemotherapy treatments she was undergoing, she placed him with a family that lived near them.
Unfortunately, that family moved away, taking Seymour with them. Rivera never saw Seymour again, until their reunion at AZ Small Dog Rescue’s BARKS (“Boarding Arizona’s Rescued K9s”) facility in Central Phoenix. How Seymour ended up at a shelter in Madera County, is still a mystery. He was discovered wandering the streets, dirty and “full of stickers”, according to the Madera Tribune. Thanks to Seymour’s microchip, which still listed Rivera’s contact information, the Madera County Animal Shelter was able to connect with Rivera and let him know that Seymour was in their care. Rivera had been contacted by Texas shelter facilities twice prior, since Seymour moved away, but each time Seymour was retrieved by the family that had adopted him, and Rivera assumed that all was well.
This time, Rivera was not going to make that mistake again. He wanted Seymour back, but was faced with the challenge of getting him to Texas from California – with limited time and funds, it was a quandary.
Enter Pilots N Paws, a non-profit organization that aids in the transport of rescued animals to safety. One of their volunteers, Bruce Hedlund, offered to pick Seymour up in California, and fly him to Arizona, at no cost to Rivera. Rivera gratefully accepted, and made arrangements to drive approximately 7 hours to Phoenix, to get Seymour. Seymour was flown to an airport near Wickenburg, and AZ Small Dog Rescue transported Seymour from Wickenburg to Phoenix, and cared for him for several days.
When Rivera entered the BARKS facility on Saturday, Angi Hopson, AZ Small Dog Rescue’s founder and director, was waiting with Seymour. With a news camera bearing down on him, Rivera seemed a bit shy, but very pleased to see his long, lost companion. “He used to greet me every night when I got home from work,” Rivera said, once Seymour was back in his arms. “I’ve missed that, and I’m looking forward to having him back where he belongs.”
Rivera will be mustering out of the Army very shortly, and he and Seymour will then leave Texas for his home state of Georgia. As he loaded Seymour into the back of the car, Seymour settled into the fluffy bed provided for him, and happily rolled on his back. After his long, mysterious adventure, that took him across three states, Seymour was finally going home.
AZ Small Dog Rescue is a local non-profit, animal welfare organization that does animal rescue and is currently renovating an old greyhound park property into a rescue boarding facility, BARKS. Their mission is for BARKS to provide safe, economical boarding for rescue groups that need to house their rescued dogs. Rescues are struggling to find fosters for saved animals, and often end up boarding them with various facilities around the Valley, at a significant cost to their organizations, even at discounted rates. Often they have to move dogs during busy holiday weekends so that boarding facilities can make room for regular customers. BARKS would address those needs by providing boarding at a severely discounted rate, in a “rescue-friendly” facility. Please help AZ Small Dog Rescue’s mission by donating to help with construction and renovation costs here: BARKS ChipIn Page.