Category Archives: PETS

One-of-a-kind Pet Expo set for March 15

By Jeanne Balaoing | Special to the County Compass

Pet-Expo-Logo-ColorNEW BERN – Plan to attend a great, fun, family event to chase away your winter blues and get the family and pets out of the house! On Saturday, March 15 from 10 until 4 at the Craven County Jaycees Fairground come out to the Second Eastern North Carolina Pet Expo.

If you attended our first Expo in 2011, you’ll remember what a great time we had and what an excellent event for pet enthusiasts!

One big difference in 2014 is that you can bring your pets, which allows the organizers to offer a variety of new activities! The growing lineup includes pet training demonstrations, portrait booth, scrapbooking, face painting, balloons, plus pet contests, etc. Exhibits include Bill’s Pet Shop, A Dog’s Dream, Beads and Bowls, Girl Scout cookies, and many more familiar names from throughout the region.

Proceeds go toward local rescue groups who are working diligently with us to put this event together. Platinum sponsors are Lynaire Kennels and Crematory, Inc., and Jill’s Pet Gallery. Gold sponsors are Masterful Dog Training, Inc., Coastal Pet Portraits, and Riverside Chrysler Jeep Dodge. Join us in thanking them for their support of area pet businesses!

Blind hiker blazes trails

“I’ve got more miles on me than a lot of used cars,” says long-distance hiker, Trevor Thomas, in remarks to Compass reporter Penny Zibula. Guide dogs for Thomas and Zibula are also shown in the photo.

“I’ve got more miles on me than a lot of used cars,” says long-distance hiker, Trevor Thomas, in remarks to Compass reporter Penny Zibula. Guide dogs for Thomas and Zibula are also shown in the photo.

By Penny Zibula | Staff Writer

Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a two-part report.

CROATAN FOREST – Long-distance hiker, Trevor Thomas, and I sat across from each other under the trees at the Oyster Point Campground. With my voice recorder on the picnic table between us, this was a case of the blind interviewing the blind.

Local newspapers and TV stations had taken the opportunity to tell the story of this soft-spoken, insightful athlete and motivational speaker, as he and his black Labrador Retriever guide dog, Tennille, passed through the New Bern area during the final leg of the approximately 1,000 mile Mountains to Sea Trail through North Carolina.

Now it was the County Compass’ turn. And, I could relate.

When 2005 began, Thomas, then 35, was a law school graduate and self-described adrenaline junkie, who raced Porsches, jumped out of airplanes and went backcountry skiing.

If it was deemed crazy,” he recalled, “I would do it.”

But later that year, he found himself struggling through an eight-month process that would inevitably leave him totally blind.

My auto immune system woke up one day, and decided that the maculae were a foreign body,” he explained, “I went from thinking that I needed glasses – maybe contact lenses – to I lost my sight.”

As is common with severe losses, Thomas experienced feelings of anger, denial, and the other stages of grieving. For the first few months, he remembered being depressed, not knowing what he was going to do with the rest of his life.

Then came Thomas’ ‘ah-ha’ moment. A friend told him that he was taking him to see a speaker who was blind. Thomas was less than enthused, expecting some kind of “poor, pitiful me” presentation. But he went, because his friend insisted, and was also bigger than he was.

The speaker was Erik Weihenmayer, a blind mountain climber who had scaled numerous peaks, including Mount Everest. After the presentation, Thomas had an opportunity to speak with Weihenmayer, and the acceptance and encouragement he received was a life-changing experience.

Erik gave me permission to be foolish,” Thomas said. “I decided the next day that I was going to go out and get my life back.”

Since Thomas could no longer participate in running independently – “I kept running into parked cars” – Thomas turned his attention to hiking. During one of his lessons in traveling with a white cane, he persuaded his reluctant instructor to go into a sporting goods store to purchase a pair of trekking poles, which are ski poles for hikers. While he was in the store, Thomas couldn’t help but overhear someone talking about having hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. The man told of encountering bears, and nearly freezing to death.

By the time Thomas left the store, he had decided that he was going to hike the 2,200 mile trail — a decision that changed his life forever.

I convinced myself,” he recalled, “that if I could simply figure out a way to do that, I’d get my life back.”

Thomas set out approximately 16 months after losing his sight, and the successful completion of that hike was the beginning of a new career and a new life.

Since then, Thomas has climbed challenging peaks and hiked backcountry trails, including the over 2,600 mile Pacific Crest Trail. In 2012, Thomas trained with Tennille at the San Rafael campus of Guide Dogs for the Blind. Although he had applied to several guide dog training centers, GDB was the only one willing to train a dog for him that could safely guide him down backcountry trails, as well as city streets.

Now he and Tennille,– with Jef Judin, who is filming a documentary for sock manufacturer, Tholo, one of Thomas’s sponsors, — are nearing the completion of his latest accomplishment, which will end at Jockey’s Ridge State Park, on the Outer Banks on Saturday, June 22nd.

(Continued next week.)

Learn more about Trevor Thomas and his MTS trek at Learn more about Guide Dogs for the Blind at

Readers may contact Penny Zibula by e-mail at

‘Bark Brigade’ graduates


Dogs and inmate trainers share a bittersweet moment during Wednesday’s graduation.

Dogs and inmate trainers share a bittersweet moment during Wednesday’s graduation.

By Judith Lynch | Staff Writer

BAYBORO — Trainers, staff and volunteers at Pamlico County Correctional Institution, a medium security state prison, hosted the facility’s third ‘New Leash on Life’ doggie graduation ceremony Wednesday afternoon.

Colorfully decked out for the holidays, the meeting room was filled with friends, shelter volunteers, trainers, well-wishers and the five lucky families selected to adopt these special canines.

Eight weeks ago these newly minted graduates were “sprung” from the Craven/Pamlico and Carteret County Humane Society shelters and truly given a new leash on life through the efforts of PAWS (the Pamlico Animal Welfare Society) and their partner organization, the Humane Society in Carteret County.

The New Leash program pairs select inmate trainers with rescued shelter dogs. Designed to make the dogs adaptable, adoptable and well-behaved family pets, the training program is of immense benefit to their inmate trainers as well.

Program Coordinator Sandra Trest expressed pride in the eight men who do such a tremendous job of working together, and introduced Andrew Dunham, the main trainer, who spoke from the heart.

Working with dogs, he said, has taught him dedication, responsibility and patience, and the program is giving him something he has been looking for all his life  a family.
He is grateful to the program and its supporters, and Dunham gave a special thank you to the adopting families for opening their hearts and their homes so the dogs can get a true second chance at life.

After accepting Canine Good Citizen and agility/rally certificates with their dogs, the trainers presented an elaborate and funny skit to showcase what the dogs have learned at the ‘Bark Brigade Doggie Boot Camp.’

His men challenge a gruff drill sergeant (who coos to the dogs but snaps at the men) to a rally. Not quite Gere and Gossett, but each trainer directs a four-legged recruit to answer a door by pulling it open, turn on a light switch, run across a see-saw, and jump hurdles. Between obstacles, the dogs hit their marks and sit, stay, lie down, and roll over. Their big finish is landing on a platform and performing a bow. Now that’s entertainment!\

Every eight weeks new dogs enter the program. See for more information on how you can apply for a wonderful pet, or call Jackie Schmidt at (252) 745-3347. The Pamlico County Correctional Institution’s Bark Brigade is on FaceBook, and the Carteret County Humane Society Shelter can be contacted via their website or at (252) 247-7744.

Dog training hits stride at state prison


The four dogs in program – Titan, Blue, Casey, and Simon – appear in a lineup of sorts, posted on a prison bulletin board.    Ken: grab the dogs from the photo and delete the rest.

The four dogs in program – Titan, Blue, Casey, and Simon – appear in a lineup of sorts, posted on a prison bulletin board.

By Judith Lynch | Staff Writer

BAYBORO – The ‘New Leash on Life’ program pairs qualified inmates with adoptable shelter dogs, and all parties learn new skills. Inmates learn to work with animals, which prepares them for employment, and the dogs learn basic and advanced skills, which readies them to become well-mannered family pets.


Michelle Chin, a Wounded Warrior from Virginia Beach, becomes the adoptive parent of Titan.

The Pamlico Correctional Institution, part of the North Carolina prison system, has partnered with the Pamlico Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and the Carteret Humane Society Animal Shelter in Newport to participate in the nationally acclaimed dog training program.

Every eight weeks, the inmate trainers and their class of canine graduates put on a lively demonstration showcasing the skills the dogs (and trainers) have acquired. A graduation ceremony Wednesday afternoon – just the second in the short history of the program – included feats of agility and rally obedience, two aspects new to the Bayboro program.

With the support of prison administrators, Sandra Trest, Program Coordinator, and volunteer trainer Alecia Williams of Dove Landing Kennels in Merritt, the program is expanding.

Simon, and the other three dogs, demonstrated their new skills during the graduation ceremony.

Simon, and the other three dogs, demonstrated their new skills during the graduation ceremony.

The number of would-be inmate trainers is also expanding, and they are increasingly aware of just how responsive and intelligent their charges are. To keep it fresh, new challenges are being developed for dogs and trainers alike, and their enthusiasm is contagious.

Inmate, and new head trainer, Bryan Carter spoke sincerely and eloquently about how participating in the New Leash program is changing his life.

“It has taught me responsibility, patience, and caring, all traits required to be in New Leash on Life,” said Carter. “Prison alone doesn’t change a person’s life, but it’s the things you experience here that make you wonder how bright your future could be.”

He also thanked his mentors, Trest and Gary Goldman. He said he has a rare opportunity to do something positive and something he loves, and, “You helped me grow up, and I’m happy with the man I’m becoming.”

This is exactly what the New Leash on Life program is designed to do, and why it is so important that everyone with two legs or four, get a second chance at a better future.


These inmates were the trainers for a second group of dogs in the prison’s “New Leash on Life” program.

During the afternoon, dogs Blue, Casey, Simon, and Titan – along with trainers Carter, Andrew Dunbar, Eduardo Amanza, and Neil Stewart — wowed the crowd.

The ‘rally’ aspect of training had the canines weaving around and through pylons, then performing the behaviors posted on each, including stop, sit, lie down, wait, heel left and right, etc.

Each dog went directly into the agility routines, climbing up one side of a large wooden A-frame structure and down the other; standing on hind legs and pulling down the high end of a 12’ red and white wooden seesaw, then walking up the incline. Balanced in the middle, the dogs calmly tipped the seesaw again and confidently walked down to the floor.

A few feet from the seesaw, each dog handily jumped over a hurdle and completed their routine. The crowd applauded each dog’s performance, and to even more applause, the trainers smiled, praised and hugged the dogs for their fine efforts.

Later, Anthony Florence, Assistant Superintendent of Programs at the prison, presented the dogs to their adoptive parents.

The first recipient was Michelle Chin of Virginia Beach, Va., who received a very special dog, Titan, from the Carteret shelter. Trained as a mobility service dog for Chin, who served in the Navy, Titan becomes the first dog from the program to assist a Wounded Warrior.

The youngest recipient of a dog was Alexander Coulter, 8, who smiled proudly as he took the leash of his new best friend, Simon, a handsome, young Springer Spaniel. Simon immediately stood up, hugged Alex, and gave him enthusiastic doggie kisses, which delighted the audience.

Blue, an Australian Blue Heeler cattle dog, is a young, well-behaved and agile companion who will join the Adkins family of Jacksonville. Very intelligent, affectionate and eager to please, Blue will make a great addition to that household.

Casey, also from the Carteret shelter, is nicknamed “Old Bones” by his trainer, Eduardo Amanza, but Casey is anything but old. He is loving, gentle and reserved, with deep brown, liquid, knowing eyes, and seems to possess the wisdom of the ages. His new family will be taking him to live in Washington.

The next New Leash dogs have entered the program, and in eight weeks will be available for adoption. If you would like to apply for one of these dogs, see their photos and bios on the PAWS website, Click on Adopt a Pet, print out and mail in the application, and you will be contacted. For more information, please call Jackie Schmidt, PAWS president, at (252) 745-3347.

Puppy Mill busted


Surprise raid targets Straight Road trailer

TCC083012001By Judith Lynch | Staff Writer

WHORTONSVILLE – Early Wednesday, Pamlico County fought back. A small army of local law enforcement issued a warrant at the Straight Road home of Melissa Joyner, seizing approximately 20 dogs, one cat, one ferret and a parrot, all housed in deplorable, overcrowded and unsanitary conditions.

Pamlico County Animal Control Officer Berkley Hill coordinated the raid with a major assist from the Pamlico County Sheriff’s Department. A host of animal rescue groups were also involved.

One observer described the operation as “making money from misery.”

NEWS1-Puppy-Mill-pic-1In a recent statement, a spokesperson from the Humane Society of the United States said: “Puppy mills house dogs in shockingly poor conditions. After their fertility wanes, breeding animals are often killed, abandoned or sold cheaply to another mill to try and get ‘one more litter’ out of the dog.”

The house trailer at 560 Straight Road, between Piney Narrows Lane and Sanders Road, was the scene of the well-coordinated rescue raid — alive with law enforcement personnel and volunteer/saviors who placed the ailing animals into carriers, ferrying them outside one by one.

Animals inside the trailer were actively being bred, and in slightly better condition than dogs found in the back yard, who were living in filthy pens, suffering with eye and skin infections, and worse.

The barking, terrified animals (Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, Shih Tzus, a Sharpei, a Corgi, and a hodgepodge of other small dogs) were then placed side by side under the large, shady tent erected in the front yard, and their physical conditions quickly assessed and documented.

They would soon be transferred to a cavalcade of waiting vehicles and driven to the Sheriff’s Department in Bayboro, where they would be divided among the rescue groups and taken away.

Coordinating volunteer activities was the far-too-experienced Kim Alboum, North Carolina’s state director for The Humane Society of the United States. Two rescue groups from the Raleigh area — Saving Grace (, and PawFect Match Rescue ( — as well as our own Colonial Capital Humane Society in New Bern ( took in these small victims of abuse and neglect, and will do their best to help them recover.

Each non-profit rescue organization is responsible for providing veterinary care, rehabilitation, foster homes and eventual adoption for the ones who can be saved. To help in any way, please contact the organizations directly.

According to the Humane Society, this is the second puppy mill raid in a week in North Carolina, and the eleventh in the last 18 months.

“North Carolina desperately needs regulation to protect dogs like these and the countless others who are suffering from lack of proper care in puppy mills,” said Alboum. “The awful conditions at these facilities is the strongest possible call to action for state senators to put a bill forward in 2013.”

The state has no specific laws protecting dogs sold directly to the public or online by unscrupulous commercial breeders — not to be confused with responsible breeders who raise their animals with the intent to produce healthy, socialized dogs.

Females in puppy mills can be bred every time they are in heat to increase profits. After reaching four years old, the breeder dog is often worn out and no longer needed, so is killed.

With a lack of laws regulating such despicable breeding operations, law enforcement cannot prevent animal neglect until it reaches crisis proportions, as amply demonstrated by Wednesday’s raid.

By late afternoon, Hill – the county’s animal control officer — was writing up his findings and pouring over North Carolina animal laws that address what he and others found on Straight Road.

As of 6 p.m. Wednesday evening, exact charges were pending, and appropriate legal action is expected to follow shortly. Attempts to reach the Sheriff’s Department for comment were unsuccessful.

Dogs graduate with big assist from inmates


NEWS1-Dog-pic-1By Judith Lynch | Staff Writer

BAYBORO — Amid smiles and applause, the first class of four “New Leash on Life” dogs strutted their stuff to the delight of prison officials, new adoptive families and other admiring well-wishers who attended the Pamlico Correctional Institution’s premier doggie graduation ceremony in Bayboro on Wednesday.

Sandra Trest, indefatigable Assistant Unit Manager and Program Coordinator for the “New Leash on Life” program, welcomed the guests and introduced each speaker, sharing how each generously contributed their time and resources to begin this worthwhile program in Pamlico County,

For those unfamiliar with the program, the “New Leash on Life” concept is simple: “Everyone deserves a second chance, whether they have two legs or four,” and inmate trainers are paired with adoptable shelter dogs for the betterment of both. Inmates learn dog-training skills, and homeless dogs become well-mannered, desirable family pets.

Certified volunteer dog trainer Alecia Williams, owner/operator of Dove Landing Kennels in Merritt, gave heartfelt praise to trainers and prison staff for doing such a commendable job working with the dogs.

Candace Christopherson, manager of the Carteret County Humane Society Shelter in Newport, sponsored dogs Vida and Jake. She found the program important for inmates and invaluable for her animals. Shelter dogs often have issues, and some for the first time have received love and attention from a person, their trainer.

She declared, “Guys, thank you very much–you’ve done a fantastic job!”

Jackie Schmidt, president of the Pamlico Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) sponsored Lyka and Allie, and was thrilled to be there. After dreaming about the project for two years — with no money and no dogs — PAWS and the prison managed to pull it all together in two weeks, and opened the doors June 4. PAWS worked on a shoestring, looked for donations and asked for help.

“Seed money to get us started was generously donated by Mr. Buddy Rogers in memory of his wife, Kay, who was a great dog lover, “ said Schmidt. “It was the springboard to get our dogs vetted, vaccinated, spayed and neutered so they are healthy, up-to-date and legal in every way.”

Then it was senior inmate trainer Gary Goldman’s turn, who over the past several years has participated in training countless dogs in other facilities. Goldman has achieved a certificate as a veterinary assistant, and was awarded a journeyman’s designation as a professional dog trainer – just the second person in North Carolina to be so recognized by the Dept. of Labor.

It was Goldman who developed the program showcasing the dogs’ accomplishments. Each plucky dog and personal trainer showed off what they learned in their time together. Trainers and dogs maneuvered across the polished floor, running patterns like a marching band. The dogs came, heeled, sat, lay down, and rolled over on command, and got a big hand from the appreciative crowd.

Three adult dogs passed their AKC Canine Good Citizen tests, and the puppy, 7-month old Vida, passed as a Star Puppy. Quite an accomplishment in eight short weeks.

The next graduation will be held on September 26 for new dogs Simon, Blue, Case and Titan. See the PAWS website,, for information and photos, and how you can adopt these newest, New Leash on Life companions. Call Jackie Schmidt, PAWS president, at (252) 745-3347 for details on sponsoring a deserving dog.

Shelter dogs get a ‘New Leash on Life’ at state prison




Special to the County Compass

BAYBORO CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTE – A rehabilitative program for inmates, known as A New Leash on Life, begins Monday at this medium security prison, which houses more than 500 men.

The facility is the 23rd prison in North Carolina to implement the dog-training program – a tested and proven benefit for inmates and for shelter dogs, of which Allie and Lyka are the first to enroll.

In a collaborative effort with the Bayboro facility, Pamlico Animal Welfare Society, better known as PAWS, will pair carefully selected inmates with adoptable, rescued dogs that found themselves on the wrong side of an animal shelter fence.

Over the course of the next eight weeks, “both sets of inmates” will learn new skills, easing transition to life on “the outside.”

Prisoners will learn marketable animal-handling skills, preparing them for future employment in a variety of settings. Allie and Lyka, destined to become well-mannered family pets, will learn good canine citizenship. Truly a win-win proposition.



How the inmates are selected, what they are taught, who teaches them, what the dogs learn, and how the prison population reacts to the dogs in their midst all will be revealed in a County Compass series that begins June 7.

This newspaper will do its part to support the New Leash on Life program by showcasing the doggie graduates as they become available for adoption.

However, PAWS faces large challenges beyond finding the dogs good homes. New Leash receives no state funding. All equipment including leashes, collars, kennels, bedding, a bathing/grooming station, inoculations, heartworm medications, spaying, neutering, food and more, is paid for by PAWS. A nonprofit, PAWS is looking for financial and in-kind, tax-deductible donations to sustain the program.

For further information and to discuss your ideas, contact PAWS President Jackie Schmidt at (252) 745-3347, or at You can also find PAWS on the web at