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Posted: December 18, 2009 12:01 a.m.

Faithful friend

Newton Animal Shelter's service dog remembered fondly

By Brittany Thomas/

Canine compatriot: Newton County Animal Control Director Teri Key-Hoosen, left, and volunteers Betty Bellairs and Mimi Lee display the plaques that will honor the recently deceased shelter mascot, Short Stop.

For 15 years the Newton County Animal Shelter was served by a dedicated volunteer. He passed away in September and Wednesday shelter employees and volunteers recognized his loyalty by hanging a plaque honoring him in the shelter lobby.

Short Stop was born in 1994 — his mother was a red Pomeranian and his father a black Dachshund. He and his parents and litter mates were dropped off at the shelter when their family was unable to care for them anymore.

While Short Stop was adopted out as a young pup, he was quickly brought back to the shelter.

"He had this problem," said Mimi Lee, former shelter employee and now volunteer. "He liked to kill chickens."

So he became the shelter’s mascot and began travelling with volunteers to schools to teach students how to care for animals and nursing homes to visit with residents.

"He was so sweet nobody could ever believe he could kill chickens," Lee said.

When the bell on the shelter’s door would ring, Shortstop would greet the visitor at the door and walk with them while they viewed potential pets.

Not afraid to bring Shortstop to her farm, Lee began taking him home on the weekends. She said he never killed any of her chickens.

"We had a discussion," Lee said.

He may have had to restrain violent urges around chickens, but Lee said he was an absolute angel around children. He attended several local Special Olympics ceremonies and visited every elementary school in the county. He attended every Mutt Show and won the competition’s first "waggiest tail" award.

Shortstop also helped around the shelter by herding a cat if it escaped from its cage.

As he got older, he stayed with Lee every night and came with her to the shelter on the days she worked.

Even though he is gone, his bed is still in the back of the shelter and his spirit still permeates its atmosphere.

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