Father, son miss Clemson football game to rescue 3 dogs
AIKEN, S.C. (AP) — They say no good deed goes unpunished. But Wayne Heath and his son, Chase, aren’t upset after their determination to help three young dogs caused them to miss the Clemson-N.C. State football game on Oct. 20.
“We just feel warm in our hearts because we think we made the right decision,” said Wayne, who owns Wayne Heath Automotive Co. on Richland Avenue West in Aiken, during a telephone interview Tuesday.
“There will always be other Clemson games,” he continued. “But these three animals probably wouldn’t have survived for very long if we hadn’t stopped.”
Wayne and Chase, who is a Clemson graduate, were looking forward to the clash between two previously undefeated teams in Clemson Memorial Stadium.
“The game was sold out, but we bought tickets from a friend of mine who is a season ticket holder,” Wayne said.
While traveling in a Dodge Journey crossover SUV between McCormick and Abbeville, the Heaths saw a puppy standing near the side of the road. They had an extra hamburger after getting something to eat at the McDonald’s in Edgefield, so they pulled over to give the dog a snack.
“We went down a side road and he followed us,” Wayne said. “Then, all of a sudden, his two siblings came running out of the woods.”
All three puppies — one male and two females — were very skinny and covered with ticks.
Wayne believes someone dumped them out of a car or truck and left them to fend for themselves in the rural area.
“You could tell they hadn’t been fed for days because their ribs were showing, but they were all in good spirits,” Wayne said. “They were jumping all over each other and playing. They obviously were excited that we had stopped and were interacting with them. And once they realized we were going to feed them, that made them even more excited.”
Because the puppies appeared to be homeless, the Heaths thought it would be a good idea to catch them and take them to a local animal shelter before resuming their journey to Clemson.
“We were able to get two of them, into our car right away,” Wayne said. “The third one, one of the females, was very elusive.”
Because they spent hours trying to catch her before giving up around 8 p.m., the Heaths never made it to Clemson, where the Tigers crushed the Wolfpack 41-7.
“It was impossible for us to get our hands on her,” Wayne said.
He and Chase returned to Aiken with two dogs in the back of their SUV, but vowed to go back the next day to get the other puppy.
And they did.
But before setting out, the Heaths prepared for their quest.
“We went by a Dollar General store and picked up some dog food, some dog treats, some dog bowls and some water,” Wayne said. “We also had a leash, a collar and a blanket. We figured we could cover her with the blanket if we could get close enough to her.”
The pursuit began again around 11 a.m., and was still continuing when the sun went down.
“It was dark, but we really didn’t want to leave her,” Wayne said. “So we decided to drive into Abbeville to get a quick bite to eat and then come back and make one more attempt to get her. When we got back, she was right where we had left her on the side of the road. She acted like she wanted to be caught, but she was just afraid of the human touch.”
Wayne knew he needed to try a different strategy because running after the dog wasn’t working.
“I laid down flat on the ground,” he said. “Then she laid down, too, and just started crawling toward me on her belly. She finally got close enough to where I was able to reach out and grab her leg.”
Later that evening, the Heaths reunited the puppy with her siblings.
Assisted by a Heath Automotive employee, Mareese Starrak, Wayne and Chase have been taking care of the dogs since then and trying to find someone to foster them or give them a forever home.
“We have set up a makeshift shelter at our business,” Wayne said. “We’re feeding them and we’re walking them. We’ve also picked up a few items to help get rid of all the ticks and any fleas. They are very loving dogs.”
In addition, the Heaths have sought the advice of a veterinarian.
“Because we made the decision to rescue them, we feel obligated to see this all the way through,” Wayne said. “We want to make sure that they end up in a good situation. I would love for anybody who is interested in these dogs to reach out to me, and I’ll be glad to talk to them.”
Starrak, Wayne and Chase, who is a sales consultant at Heath Automotive, have named the puppies Spirit, Faith and Hope.
Information from: Aiken Standard, http://www.aikenstandard.com