By Curt Yeomans
It's been four months since Sparky, the dog, was dragged behind a truck on Frontage Road in Forest Park. The mixed breed terrier has been recuperating since then.
Pet rescue officials in Atlanta, meanwhile, have raised $6,800, and put up a billboard on Interstate 75, to help find the driver of the truck. The search continues.
Sparky is headed back to Forest Park. Forest Park resident, Chip Allen, who lives a mile-and-a-half from the site of the dragging, adopted Sparky Monday.
"Caroline [Baars, the woman who has cared for Sparky since August] called me on Sunday night and said 'You need to put another dog bowl out for dinner,' and I got a little choked up," said Allen, during Sparky's adoption ceremony at Atlanta Pet Rescue in Midtown Atlanta. "I feel lucky to have been chosen to be Sparky's adoptive father."
Sparky has become a celebrity of sorts since his story first came out in early August. He's been featured on several local, TV news stations, and in area newspapers. With his adoption, Sparky is retiring from the public eye to live a quiet life with Allen, and Allen's rat terrier, Rocky.
"This is his [Sparky's] 10 minutes of fame, and he deserves it," Allen said. "Once he gets home into my quiet home environment, I think things will be just great. I've got a great, big backyard for him to run around in."
Baars said parting with Sparky after being with him since August was "bittersweet." Baars, and Atlanta Pet Rescue officials chose who would adopt Sparky on Nov. 18.
As she choked back tears of sadness, Baars said, "That's what we do. We take care of them until they are ready to be adopted. Ultimately, you want what's best for the dog, which is to send him or her to the best home possible. We think we've done what's best for Sparky. He's going to a good home."
The adoption ceremony also was bittersweet for doctors and technicians from Paces Ferry Veterinary Clinic. Jenine Merritt, one of Sparky's doctors, and technicians, Amy Guest and Anne Gagnon, attended the ceremony. Sparky will make at least one more trip to the clinic, on Dec. 1, for a check-up, but Merritt said the popular dog has already recovered from "99.9 percent" of his wounds.
"I've never seen a dog with wounds this severe survive," Merritt said. "In fact, I've seen dogs with much less severe wounds not make it. I attribute it to just the kind of dog he is. He doesn't really need much more help. He's just about there. Now we basically check him, and say 'Sparky, you look good.'"
Betsy Blimline, a spokesperson for Atlanta Pet Rescue, said the committee picked Allen to be Sparky's adoptive father for two main reasons. Sparky liked being around Allen, and Rocky, when they met a week earlier for an interview and meet-and-greet. Allen was also picked because of his commitment to doing whatever he could do to help find the driver of the truck.
Allen plans to put up flyers in both English, and Spanish, asking people to call the Clayton County Police Department with any information about the driver.
Allen doesn't want to give up the search, because he feels Sparky "deserves justice," he said.
"Chip seemed totally devoted to Sparky before he even met him," Blimline said. "That hit me as someone who really cares. He's [Allen] really been like an expectant father waiting to adopt Sparky."
As Sparky's wounds come close to being completely healed, and he settles into his new home in Forest Park, the story of his recovery is coming to a close.
"It's a happy ending to a real bad story," Allen said.