Florida dog lost in Chester SC crash found and reunited with owner

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Richburg Fire & Safety Facebook

On July 17, a small Florida dog named “Goofuss” ran away from a car that had been involved in an accident on rural Interstate 77. County of Chester in South Carolina.

There were tears. There were searches. There were posts on Facebook. And there were good people doing good things for a stranger they had never met.

Now Goofuss is safe. Goofuss is at home in Florida, because the good people of Chester County cared.

The missing dog

Firefighters and other rescuers responded to the accident that night. They looked for the chihuahua that had run off into the woods.

“He had run off into the woods and we just couldn’t find him,” said T. Melton, chief of Richburg Fire and Rescue. “It was dark.”

The dog’s owner, Jean Powers, was an 80-year-old from Florida, Melton said. It wasn’t just a dog. It was family.

Powers had adopted the dog years ago and the two were inseparable.

Powers and family members, including John Ladd of Union County, North Carolina, searched for the dog for days and stayed in contact with Melton and others. Firefighters searched and volunteers searched. Chester County Animal Control helped with a humane trap that was placed near the site where the accident happened, Ladd said.

“It was heartbreaking,” Ladd said.

Powers herself stayed in Chester County for days and searched near the scene, Ladd said.

“She was there when she was 87,” Ladd said.

Ladd said Powers eventually returned to Florida while others continued to search.

Richburg Fire & Rescue posted on its Facebook page – a page that is a central means of communication in rural Chester County – about the missing dog. Word spread as the posts were shared.

Found

Then on Tuesday, more than two weeks after the loss of the dog, Melton’s cell phone rang. In a small rural community, people have the number of the fire chief.

It was a lady who works at the BP station near the highway. She told how a Chester County couple saw the social media posts and believed the missing dog had wandered off to their house, Melton said.

Chester County Animal Control officers and firefighters rushed to Amber Moore’s home to see if the dog’s microchip matched the owner.

“Indeed, it was the same dog,” Melton said.

Chester County Animal Control Manager Kelli Simoneau said Jesse Rucker-Roof and Trish Zimmerman from her office confirmed Goofuss’ identity and arranged for Ladd to pick up the dog Tuesday night.

Ladd’s wife drove Goofuss to Florida on Wednesday.

“So many people have come together to help,” Ladd said. “It’s just wonderful.”

Powers said in a Facebook post that his prayers had been answered as Goofuss was found and fired.

“I owe a huge thank you to everyone who made this possible,” Powers wrote.

In a Thursday phone interview from her home in Florida, Powers said she and researchers in Chester County — a rural county hundreds of miles from her home and located halfway between Charlotte and Columbia — didn’t never given up, even if after two weeks the hope was gone.

“The people there were just wonderful,” Powers said.

Powers said Goofuss, 6, back home in Florida spent the first day relaxing.

“I gave him treats and he relaxes,” Powers said.

‘Community’

Simoneau of Animal Control in Chester said the combined efforts of everyone involved brought a Florida lady in her 80s to her dog after it was lost in a traffic accident. She urged all pet owners to have an animal microchipped so that there is no confusion over whether the dog is the right dog.

Goofuss was definitely the right dog.

Animal control does the microchipping service, Simoneau said.

Richburg is a small place, with less than 1000 inhabitants but with a . It is in a rural county of approximately 32,000 people between Rock Hill and Columbia.

But the people there care about each other and watch out for each other.

The job is to help people. Work together. That’s what people in rural Chester County have done yet again in times of need, Melton said.

The public, firefighters, animal handlers.

“There’s a word for it,” Melton said. “Community.”

This story was originally published August 5, 2022 7:57 a.m.

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Andrew Dys covers breaking news and public safety for The Herald, where he has been a reporter and columnist since 2000. He has won 51 South Carolina Press Association awards for his coverage of crime, race, justice and people . He is the author of the book “Slice of Dys” and his work is in the US Library of Congress.

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