Sep. 23, 2012 at 1:53 PM ET
A dog given up in the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav four years ago has been found wandering along a road in North Carolina, and its original owners in Louisiana say they want him back.
The 15-year-old white poodle named Shorty has a microchip and staff at the Cabarrus Animal Hospital in Kannapolis, N.C., were able to trace it to its family in New Orleans.
The story of the dog’s discovery was first reported by News14 Carolina. The initial report indicated that Shorty had been given up after Hurricane Katrina. The original owners later told TODAY that the dog was given up after Hurricane Gustav, in 2008.
It’s unclear how Shorty eventually ended up in Kannapolis, a city in Cabarrus County about 25 miles northeast of Charlotte and about 735 miles northeast of New Orleans. It’s also not known how long the dog has been on its own.
WCNC said a teenager in Concord, N.C., called the station on Sunday upon hearing about the dog in the news. The teen said his family had been taking care of the dog for the past several years, according to the TV station. The dog became lost earlier this month and the family has been looking for it ever since, the caller said.
A passer-by going to work spotted the dog wandering along a street in Cabarrus County about two weeks ago, said Dr. Blake Peurifoy, a veterinarian at Cabarrus Animal Hospital, who has been treating the dog..
“The gentleman said it was walking in the middle of street. He dropped it off and asked if we could take care of it.”
The approximately 15-pound dog looked in sad shape, its eyes infected and its fur soiled, matted and crusted from head to toe. “We cleaned him and clipped him up, gave him a bath and turned him back into a white dog,” Peurifoy said.
Staff at the animal hospital then contacted the original owners.
“Apparently they were ecstatic about the dog. They were crying and really happy, really interested in getting the dog back whether he lives another three months or three years,” Peurifoy said.
Veterinarians estimate it’ll be about two weeks before Shorty is healthy enough to be released. Peurifoy said Shorty needs surgery for severe dental disease and also has a heart murmur.
The hospital is treating Shorty free of charge but is hoping someone will volunteer to help transport Shorty back to Louisiana.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to indicate that Shorty was given up after Hurricane Gustav, not Katrina as previously reported.