ATLANTIC BEACH, NC (WNCN) – It was a story that touched hundreds of thousands of people: the CBS 17 news crew of Steve Sbraccia and photo journalist George Umbenhauer found an injured dog wandering the streets of Atlantic Beach during Hurricane Dorian.
His collar tag said the dog’s name was, “Max” but when they tried calling the phone number, it just went right to voicemail.
They eventually left Max with Atlantic Beach firefighters who sheltered him until the owner could be located.
Today, Sbraccia went back to visit Max and his owner to find out how the 15-year-old chocolate lab is doing.
We found Max in Tim Harper’s garage which had been converted into a giant dog house for Max.
That was the place he was staying when he ran out into the storm, apparently frightened by its ferocity.
The garage is Max’s domain. With a blanket bed, a fan, food, water and treats, he has all the comforts a pup could want.
During the day of the storm, Harper left the front garage door cracked maybe 4–5 inches for ventilation.
Max’s collar was tied up to a rope in the garage. At the rear of the garage, Harper had left an access door bungied open to get cross ventilation.
But, somehow during the storm during the early morning hours, that access door blew open and Max fled.
As Hurricane Dorian approached Atlantic Beach, it was in full fury.
“As the storm got progressively worse, I came to check on him again [and] he was gone. That was around 2:30 or 3 o’clock,” said Harper.
It was not a fit night for man nor beast.
“I went out several times but it was blowing and raising cain so much I thought it was safer to look for him the next morning,” said Harper.
When Sbraccia found Max about 7 a.m. the wind was still howling—so much so it ripped the hard hat off his head as he tried to help the pup.
“We are lucky to have found him because his health is poor,” said Harper.
When Sbraccia caught up with Max Wednesday, he was one happy puppy, barking with delight and taking treats offered to him.
His owner says Max spent several days recovering from his hurricane ordeal.
“He has anxiety and weather anxiety —especially bad weather—it frightens him,” explained Harper.
Because of his hip dysplasia Max can’t walk very far from his home— maybe 100 yards, but Harper and his fiance think the wind and thunder from the storm gave him the adrenaline to run miles away to the spot where he was found.
Harper says he’s learned his lesson.
Next storm, no garage doghouse for Max—instead he will stay locked up right in the house until the storm passes.