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‘Never give up’: After 7 years at a shelter, North Carolina hound dog finds his forever home

After seven years with Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society in Jackson County, NC, Mitch found his forever home with Teresa Shular and her husband. (Provided Photo/WLOS via CNN)

JACKSON COUNTY, North Carolina (WLOS) — Finding forever homes for shelter animals often can take time. For a hound dog in Jackson County, it’s been a seven year wait. But Mitch has finally been adopted!

A very long journey for Mitch ends with a loving walk in the park with his forever family.

“It always touches my heart,” says Teresa Shular.

She and her husband are the new human parents of 12-year-old Mitch, a treeing walker coonhound, brought into the Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society seven years ago as a stray.

Until a week ago, Mitch was the shelter’s longest-term resident, with Teresa catching his story in a video online.

“I cried when I watched it the first time,” she says. “I cried when I watched it the second time. I thought about it and prayed about it for a few days.”

The decision was made to adopt.

“Couldn’t get up there fast enough to get him” Teresa says.

Just a few days in and the new family addition is settling in.

“Likes to lay on the porch,” she says. “We have plenty of property he roams through, do whatever he wants.”

“We’re just still over the moon about it,” says Jodi Henkel, an assistant shelter manager.

She says Mitch arrived emaciated and high-strung all those years ago. But with care and attention, she says he mellowed with the staff’s affection and care, including a Thanksgiving feast. But getting Mitch adopted came with challenges, including his age.

“For some reason people look at hound dogs and don’t see them as pets, age, breed,” Henkel says. “We like to see every dog have a chance because they all deserve it.”

A WLOS Pet Pals segment from 2019 put a spotlight on Mitch. But time passed, until Teresa, someone Henkel knew from her childhood, showed interest.

“She was my elementary school PE teacher,” Henkel says. “Knowing her personally made the story even better for me.”

Teresa, a retired gym teacher at Cullowhee Valley Elementary, is now exercising her compassion by providing a dog in his golden years a warm and comfortable place to live.

“I’ve had it said to me by several people, ‘why would you go get a dog that age just for it to die on you?’ And I said, ‘so he can have a home beforehand,’” Teresa says. “It’s not about me, it’s about Mitch. He needed a home and thankfully we can provide that for him.”

Shelter Director David Stroud says there’s a life lesson in all this.

“I believe that if Mitch has a message for all of us, it’s just that: never give up,” he says.

And Teresa certainly won’t.

“At least he would have a home and he’s loved,” she says.