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Rescued beagle can live life to the Max

August 12th, 2004, 08:49 AM
By Mark Schwed

You've heard of Mad Max? Now meet Happy Max.

The 4-year-old tri-colored beagle, who became the most famous dog at Palm Beach County's Animal Care and Control shelter after being featured in a Palm Beach Post story Monday, was rescued from possible death as soon as the doors opened Wednesday.

"This little baby right here who could not love this face?" said beaming Joy Silver, 31, of Delray Beach, who was first in line to adopt Max. "I love him. He's adorable."

"The beagle is adopted!" shouted one shelter worker.

But while Silver celebrated, Friedrich Brockmann, 75, of West Palm Beach was heartbroken.

"I came to adopt Max, too," said Brockmann, nearly in tears as he clutched a copy of the newspaper with Max's picture.

The shelter had been bombarded with phone calls about Max since he was featured in Monday's Post article, which detailed a steep rise in the number of animals being put to death more than 12,000 so far this year because of pet overpopulation in the county.

Max was dumped in the shelter's night deposit box last week by an owner who had been evicted and could no longer care for the dog.

Still, Max was one of the lucky ones because a selection committee had determined he could be put up for adoption.

Most animals that enter the shelter are put to death. Some 200 animals remained in kennels and cages Wednesday.

Shelter operators said it's too soon to tell whether the heightened public interest will help other dogs and cats find homes.

But for Max, it was a good day.

"No more doggie prison," said Silver, who owns two other beagles, Josie, 7, and Jax, 3.

Brockmann was trying to adopt Max to replace his beloved Oliver, his son's beagle. When his son moved to New Jersey, Oliver went, too.

"My granddaughter said, 'I want my dog back.' So I had to say goodbye to Oliver, the best dog I ever had," Brockmann said.

But his disappointment didn't last long.

"I've received a tip that there's another beagle coming in to the shelter," he said.

Sure enough, a few minutes later Patrick Rayha, 35, of West Palm Beach pulled his pickup truck into the parking lot with his aunt's dog, Rush.

"I didn't want to bring him here but they told me they had someone who wanted a beagle," said Rayha, whose aunt moved to Canada, leaving him with a dog he could not care for.

"This is a miracle," said Brockmann as the swap was made in the parking lot. "I'm very happy."

Back inside the shelter, crowded with people dropping off and picking up pets, Silver finished filling out paperwork, paid a $58 fee and took possession of her new pal.

"You are so skinny," Silver told Max, whose tail was wagging furiously. "But don't worry. I'll fatten you up."

She gave him a big hug and then crinkled her nose. "Wow. You need a bath."