Dog up for adoption but owner wants her back

Outlaw, a Rottweiler mix, was up for adoption at the Charleston Animal Society in 2009.

A formerly homeless woman's struggle continues, this time without her dog.

A local animal shelter put the dog up for adoption while the woman was in the hospital. Now, she's back home and wants the dog back. But shelter workers say she probably won't get the dog back because they fear she won't be able to care for the animal.

Denise Palmer, 44, lives in Taylor's Mobile Home Park off Remount Road. She got the dog, a Rottweiler mix named Outlaw, about six years ago when she was living in the woods near North Charleston City Hall.

Palmer became homeless after the city of North Charleston closed down the Good Samaritan Mission for multiple health and safety violations.

After her plight became public

through stories in The Post and Courier, she was able to move into a mobile home. Her partner, Paul Alewine, got a job at a local car wash. They were again featured in a story celebrating Thanksgiving together in 2005.

But things started unraveling last year. Alewine died in November of multiple health problems. Palmer ended up in the hospital in late March with a life-threatening lung condition.

Outlaw ended up on Burke Street in front of the mobile home. Animal control officers found her April 7 and took her to the Charleston Animal Society.

The staff fell in love with Outlaw's personality even before they learned her story, said Kay Hyman, director of outreach and communications.

They traced Outlaw's identity through the microchip they inserted when they treated her for free when she was living in the woods.

"I see thousands of animals every year," Hyman said. "Some really stand out. She deserves that velvet couch. Her battle for survival was tremendous."

Veterinarian Sarah Boyd treated Outlaw for heartworms, a fatal disease if left untreated.

"She's a really good girl," Boyd said. "She will definitely make somebody a good pet. She's a sweet, sweet girl."

The shelter staff had no idea what happened to Palmer and put Outlaw up for adoption. Then they found out she was back in the mobile home.

Palmer was in a wheelchair on the sidewalk outside the mobile home park Wednesday afternoon. She said she had no idea what happened to Outlaw and had been worried about her when she got out of the hospital. She said she doesn't know how Outlaw ended up on the street when she went into the hospital but wants her back.

"That's my baby," she said, tears in her eyes.

Hyman said they will continue to look for another home for Outlaw.

The staff is concerned what would happen to the dog if Palmer has more health problems and also whether she could afford to buy food and medicine for the animal.

"We want what's best for the animal," Hyman said.

The shelter charges a $105 adoption fee. Treating the heartworms cost quite a bit more than that, she said.