When Mark and Tina Fitzhugh walked past the cages of dogs available for adoption at Benton Animal Control and Adoption Center, they were looking for a companion for themselves as well as their dog, Reggie????
Mark Fitzhugh said the selection process wasn't difficult "because she picked us."
"She started barking and barking, like she was begging us to choose her," Mark Fitzhugh said.
That was the easy part, he said.
Then he found out that adopting the dog required an $81 adoption fee, and that was more than the couple's budget could accommodate.
Fitzhugh, who is a medically discharged veteran, said he asked whether the agency offered military discounts.
"My father, who's also a vet, had adopted a dog from a shelter in another state and he got a discount," he said. "When I asked about this, no one seemed to know if it was possible."
April Hawley, supervisor of the animal control department, was unaware whether this was a possibility, so she called the office of Mayor David Mattingly.
Although she learned that there presently is not an official discount, she found another form of assistance for the Fitzhughs.
"When Mayor Mattingly heard about the man's situation and learned he was a medically discharged veteran, he said he would pay the adoption fee," Hawley said.
Mark and Tina Fitzhugh took the opportunity Monday to visit the mayor's office Monday to express their appreciation for the mayor's help.
And while they were there, they also met the mayor's wife, Nancy, and the Mattinglys' pet dog, Ladybug.
"We decided to name our dog Ladybug to honor the mayor's dog," Mark Fitzhugh said.
"She's a great dog," he said. "She gets along great with our other dog and our cat, too.
"We're just extremely grateful for this assistance," he added. "Ladybug is a great morale booster."
Mark Fitzhugh reportedly has under gone seven surgeries for injuries he suffered in battle during his Marine Corps service.
While at City Hall, others were donating to a collection box that includes food and supplies for the animal control department.
Hawley said the facility needs many items, including collars and leads.
"Donations can be left here at any time," she said.
The Animal Control facility is located on South Willow Street off South Market Street. It is open from noon to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and occasionally on Saturdays that are announced. The facility's phone number is 776-5972.