Members of the community are mourning the loss of a special furry friend. Scooby, the bite prevention education dog for the Humane Society of Richmond County, passed away on Monday after a sudden illness.
“We’re just very devastated,” said Valerie Davis, director of the county’s Humane Society. “Scooby was known throughout the community, especially in schools, and the shelter family is devastated because it was an unexpected loss.”
The nine-year-old Labrador Retriever mix was a well-known face at many fundraisers, parades, schools and nursing homes across the county.
Cindy Chambers, the dog’s owner, said she remembered the first time she saw Scooby, around nine years ago.
“He was three months old,” Chambers said. “We came to the shelter just to return a cage they’d let me borrow, and it was my husband’s first time there.” She said Scooby was being walked during their visit, and Chambers’s husband instantly took a liking to the puppy. A shelter employee told the Chambers that Scooby was next in line to be euthanized since he’d been there the longest. “My husband said ‘oh no, not this one,’” Chambers said. “We were living check to check and couldn’t afford to pay for him, so they let us be the first foster parents. We fostered him for the week until we got a check and then we adopted him.”
Chambers said her family worked together to name their new addition — and decided to call him Scooby.
Later, the dog was introduced to the bite prevention program, which teaches children the safest ways to avoid dangerous dog bites. Scooby would often participate in demonstrations to show children how to stand or lay still around an unfamiliar dog.
“The second group of kids that he worked with was a group from Roberdel Children’s Center,” Chambers said. “One of the little girls had broken loose from the group and had him in a bear hug. It scared me … but he just looked at her and was OK with it.”
Chambers said Scooby won many hearts during his lifetime.
“The next thing we knew, we were going to nursing homes,” she said. “We had three nursing homes we went to — Somerset Court, the Hermitage and then Rockingham Manor. They loved him. At Somerset, there was a lady that wouldn’t come out of her room. (The staff members) were totally shocked when I showed them a picture of her standing at the door talking to Scooby. He just sat there in front of her, looking up and taking it all in. She even came out of her room to meet him one day. She saw him coming down the hall and came outside.
“There was another one over at the Hermitage — she had claimed him as her dog. She used to be afraid of dogs until she met Scooby. He broke a lot of people of that,” she said.
Chambers said the 85 pound ‘gentle giant’ also took his job seriously.
“He loved to wear his bandanna,” she said. “I would tell him ‘you have to work tomorrow,’ and the next morning, he was my shadow. He was ready to go to work. I’d tell him to go get his bandanna — he had a stack of different designs and he would go and get one.
“When he first started doing the bite prevention program, I was a little concerned that we were putting too much on him too quickly — until one day, around Christmas time. We had one collar that had some big jingle bells on it, and he’d already worn it a couple times to some schools. I’d picked it up to move it and he heard those bells and came running. He sat there and looked at me and nudged my hand. I said ‘thank you, Scooby. I needed that.’ And that told me he was OK with it, that he enjoyed doing his work.”
When he wasn’t on the job, Scooby enjoyed his free time with the Chambers family.
“He had a personality all of his own,” Chambers said with a laugh. “Anybody that came to the house — he would meet them at the door with something in his mouth … He loved to go camping, loved to go to the beach. He would go out and just sit on the beach and watch the ocean.”
No matter where he went, people knew who Scooby was, Davis said, and would often call out for him when they saw him.
“I didn’t even consider him a staff member’s pet,” Davis said. “Scooby was part of our staff. He represented the Humane Society because he originated there, he went everywhere and touched so many lives. He was almost like our mascot. It’s going to be hard to replace Scooby. We’re going miss him.”
— Staff Writer Mallory Brown can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.