Joe Groomes and his dog Buster after receiving some help in the Upstate. (Dec. 16, 2012/FOX Carolina)
Buster is Joe's best friend. He says he is a 5-year-old American Bulldog. (Dec. 16, 2012/FOX Carolina)
GREER, SC (FOX Carolina) -
It was love for man's best friend that helped give a homeless man an unexpected future, as he thought he was just passing through the Upstate.
Last Wednesday, Sheri Kassalias and Kayce Edmondson, who work with local animal rescue group Carmen's Rescue, spotted Buster and his owner, Joe Groomes, near the Interstate 85 on-ramp at Pleasantburg Road. With a dog rescue kit in the car, they asked if he needed help.
The rescue group typically saves loose, abandoned or abused dogs and finds them safe homes. Helping people isn't usually their mission, but this week, they said it was their pleasure.
Groomes said he reluctantly took Buster as a pup almost five years ago. He said over the years, he trained the American Bulldog without even realizing it as they traveled. He said the responsibility of caring for Buster has saved him many times.
Staff with Carmen's Rescue said Groomes has taken better care of Buster on the road than many animals they save in the Upstate.
"You don't see a dog as healthy as Buster. He looks healthier than my dogs and he's never been in a home. It's remarkable that Joe's been able to do that," Warren Gerhardt said.
Groomes kept up Buster's shots and medicines.
"Sometimes I have to do without, but it's worth it," Groomes said. "He's innocent. He can't do it for himself."
It's that sincere love for his pet that caught Carmen's Rescue's attention.
Carmen Klapper posted their story on Facebook and started a donation site to help Groomes and Buster stay in a hotel through Christmas.
The first step for Buster is a full vet visit so that Buster can be neutered, micro-chipped and get documented shots. Folks in the rescue community have even offered Groomes a job with a dog trainer in the Midlands.
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