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Our sheriff and his ‘rescue squad’

Posted: January 2, 2018 1:03 p.m.
Updated: December 26, 2017 1:00 a.m.

We’ve all probably cringed at some time in life when blue lights flashed in your rear view mirror, but near Boykin those blue lights prompt a howl-fest of “welcome home” to Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews. Known as a tough law man, this long time law enforcement officer and his wife, Heather, are huge supporters of animal rescue organizations. In fact, they have five rescue animals of their own. Boomer is a 100-lb Bloodhound/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix adopted from SQ Rescue; Jill is a delightful Terrier mix from the Thiel-Meyer Adoption Center; The Outlaw Josie Wales (appropriately named says Sheriff Matthews) is an “energetic” terrier mix from Danny and Ron’s Rescue and then they have two cats.One cat Heather found at work and the other she saw walking along highway 521 at night (more on that story in a minute.)

“We’ve adopted the best dogs through rescue and county organizations,” said Sheriff Matthews. “They might not have fancy pedigrees, but they are healthy, happy additions to our house.” The Matthews have also volunteered as short-term foster homes for our Fostering Foster Animal Rescue dogs. The first dog they fostered was a shaggy boy named “Bob.” He prompted my first editorial in the Chronicle Independent in 2015. Since then the Matthews have had a myriad of visitors including a tiny teacup that didn’t take very well to a man in uniform. “I guess she had a run-in with the law somewhere down the line,” says Matthews with a smile.

But it’s the story of the new cat that left me speechless. In May, a coyote got Heather’s cat Sammie. Heather recalled, “I was devastated. We rescued him out of an old barn near Horatio and had him a long time.” Sheriff Matthews thought they should hold off on replacing Sammie because they live in a small, one-bedroom house. Heather agreed but ... “I drove to work praying, ‘Lord, if I’m to have another cat would you please put it on the side of the road. And if you would, would you please make it gray?’”  I’ve always wanted a gray cat, she said.

Six weeks later, Heather is driving down Highway 521 towards Sumter near dark and sees a little puff of gray – yes gray – fur walking along the white line on the side of the road. She quickly turned her car around and went back. “I walked along the road and prayed, “Lord, please don’t let me get hit by a car! Lord, please let me get that cat!” God answered both prayers. Heather picked up “Spanky” and the little fireball is now making many of us laugh on Facebook with his funny antics captured on video. “That cat is an outlaw in the making,” says Matthews. “But I’m glad we have him. He is a direct answer to prayer. On the side of the road and gray. No coincidence there.”

And it’s no coincidence we have so many loving families in Kershaw County who are willing to help save the lives of unwanted dogs and cats. Together we are making a huge difference in our county and state. And I am grateful to know many of you and hopeful to meet more in 2018.

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