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Three-and-a-half-year-old Kip was recently reunited with his former owner, Ansley Whitaker, who lives in Lumberton, NC.

For nearly 18 months, Kip remained with a no-kill animal welfare organization in Crossville as an unadopted dog. A number of prospective owners were turned off by the Labrador mix’s “challenging disposition.”

On June 5, Kip’s disposition dramatically improved. Not only was he adopted, but his new owner was an old friend. 

The three-and-a-half-year-old Kip was reunited with his former owner, Ansley Whitaker, who lives in Lumberton, N.C. Delivering the dog was Karen McMeekin, founder of the nonprofit A Time 4 Paws.

“It took Kipper 10 seconds to recognize her,” McMeekin said. “He ran up and licked her. It was amazing.”

It all started with Whitaker’s mother and stepfather, both missionaries, giving away Kip when Whitaker moved from Crossville to North Carolina in the spring of 2018 and lived with her father in an apartment that didn’t allow pets. Later, she attended college in North Carolina and once again couldn’t have a pet.

Back in Crossville, her mother and stepfather had taken Kip to a Christian campground after moving to an apartment with a no-pet policy and visited him every day. 

Wanting to give someone the opportunity to be with Kip on a full time basis, the couple brought Kip to A Time 4 Paws, which features grassroots outreach programs focused on helping people keep their pets rather than abandoning them. With Kip forced to adjust to a change in environment, he became more aggressive and snapped at the staff and volunteers. Whitaker said Kip is not aggressive but wild and strong, adding he’s “funny” about his food and toys. Given his nature, it wasn’t surprising when an older couple adopted Kip but returned him a short time later because they couldn’t handle the rambunctious pup.

“It wasn’t a good fit,” Whitaker said. “The man was in a wheelchair.”

McMeekin said they worked to improve Kip’s behavior but had limited success. He didn’t put his best paw forward when company came, either.

“He would snap at people who were considering adopting him,” McMeekin said. 

Then, on June 1, Whitaker, upon the recommendation of a friend in Crossville, went to A Time 4 Paws’ website and was redirected to petfinder.com, a website listing lost pets, and spotted a familiar face. She subsequently contacted McMeekin and inquired about Kip. When McMeekin asked if she wanted to adopt him, Whitaker said yes, adding it was her dog.

“An angel came from heaven,” McMeekin said. 

McMeekin started A Time for Paws in 2005, the culmination of a lifetime dream to save animals that had been fueled by her parents’ decision to give up the family dog when McMeekin was 16 years old because it was too large for their home.

Hoops was her best friend and went with McMeekin to her summer basketball games. She said she felt lonely and sad, and not knowing if Hoops would be well cared for was devastating.

“I felt so alone without him,” McMeekin said. “I didn’t know at the time that I would be so dedicated to helping others feel better when they were in a dire situation and needed to surrender.”

McMeekin didn’t get Hoops back, but her dedication in sparing pet owners the hurt she experienced as a teenager helped effect a tearful reunion between Whitaker and Kip.

“That day she saw him, my emotions came forth,” McMeekin said. “I recalled how upset I was when I found out my parents had given Hoops away. It brought tears to my eyes.”

For McMeekin, the reuniting of Whitaker and Kip shows the importance of not giving up on an animal, regardless of its disposition.

“There are challenges out there,” McMeekin said.”You just don’t kill them because they’re challenging.”

McMeekin brought Kip to North Carolina and met Whitaker halfway between their homes in early June. Whitaker said it seemed like forever since she had last seen Kip and she wasn’t sure if he’d remember her.

Those doubts were quickly removed when she and Kip were reunited.

“He started wagging his tail so hard I thought he was going to fly away,” Whitaker said. “It was heartwarming to know he knew who I was after all that time.”

Whitaker brought Kip home and said he went straight to the couch that used to be in her Crossville home, a tennis ball in his mouth. She added he’s fit right in with their other two dogs and enjoys running around the 3-acre property and playing fetch with a football toy that her husband throws. 

Whitaker said she didn’t think she’d ever see Kip again, adding this is his “forever home.” She owes a debt of gratitude to her friend in Crossville who told her about a list of dogs that A Time 4 Paws kept online and the nonprofit’s role in reuniting her with Kip.

“I’m definitely glad they’ve gave him training,” Whitaker said. “He’d bite a lot previously. The training, along with getting fixed, made a difference. I’m glad they’re the kind of place that keeps animals and doesn’t put them down. No amount of money I could come up with could pay back what they’ve done.”

A Time 4 Paws adoption center is located at 594 Cook Rd and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The thrift store, where all proceeds go to help run the organization, is located at 1241 West Avenue. Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 2982 Crossville, TN., 38557. 

For further information, go to savetnpets@gmail.com or call 931-456-6906.