MCDOWELL COUNTY, N.C. (WSPA) – Multiple animals were missing Thursday after an ASPCA truck transporting cats and dogs crashed on a North Carolina highway.
The crash happened Wednesday on I-40 in Old Fort. As of Thursday morning, seven dogs and cats were still unaccounted for, according to McDowell County Emergency Management officials.
“Multiple animals were seen entering the wooded area near the crash site moments after the incident occurred,” county officials said. The number of animals being transported wasn’t immediately known.
The driver, Ronald Jeffrey Swanson, 54, of Hendersonville, North Carolina, was flown to a hospital with serious injuries, reported WLOS, and a passenger reportedly suffered minor injuries.
Emergency personnel, along with bystanders and staff from the McDowell County Animal Shelter and McDowell County Sheriff’s Office, provided medical care, water and shelter until additional staff from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) arrived and secured the animals that remained at the scene, emergency management officials said.
Pet owner Amanda Maddox, who wrote on Facebook that her dog was one of the missing animals, asked for prayers, adding that her kids “are completely devastated about this.”
“If yall could say a prayer for us, I’d appreciate it. Our dog, Freya, was being transported back from being spayed and the truck was in a bad wreck. Freya ended up escaping the truck and running into the woods,” Maddox said. “Please say a prayer for her to be found safe and returned to us.”
Personnel searched the area for the missing animals. Hikers and interstate travelers in Old Fort were asked to report unattended dogs or cats to the McDowell Communications Center at 828-652-4000.
A Facebook page has been set up to reunite animals with their owners.
Kate Pullen, vice president of Behavioral Rehabilitation Center at ASPCA, said Thursday on Facebook that descriptions of each pet would be available to the public soon.
“We are working on sharing out the pictures and info on each pet,” Pullen said. “Should be up ASAP to all the FB pages. Thanks so much for all the work of everyone!”