The sound of howling dogs rings through the Tri-County Animal Shelter as Jackie Matthews walks through the half-full kennel.
Jackie is the president of a local animal rescue, Saving the Animals of Rowan. STAR helps with the adoption of stray and owner-surrender dogs, mostly by transferring them north where there is a market for adoption. Jackie, who is from northeastern New Jersey, has always had a passion for helping animals.
She began to focus on that passion in 2010 when she began to volunteer as a transporter for animal rescues. As she did this more and more, she began to notice that a these "great dogs" were coming from a group in Kentucky called STAR.
"I had a really great job in New York City and a nice house, a wonderful partner, but something was missing," she says. Jackie, 57, became a member of STAR in 2013, but living New Jersey she would just pay her dues and not attend meetings. Still, she quickly rose through the ranks from a long distance member to president in October 2016.
Last March, Jackie was laid off from her job as an office manager at the New York venture capital firm where she had worked for 30 years. It made the decision to move to Morehead even more clear. In April, her partner, Judy Tankersley, made the move while Jackie remained in the New Jersey to sell their house. Once the house was sold, Jackie joined her in Morehead.
"The universe was telling me this is where I definitely belonged," she says.