Carbon shelter director buys home to help veteran, 2 dogs
Thomas Probert walks Sugar and Lilly Belle at the Carbon County Animal Shelter in Nesquehoning. DANIELLE DERRICKSON/TIMES NEWS
A street view of 212 W. Front St. in Lansford.
Tom Connors, director of Carbon County Animal Shelter, bought the residence to give a home to two dogs left in his care following their owner’s death. DANIELLE DERRICKSON/TIMES NEWS
Down a leaf-covered road in Lansford, amid a row of town houses, sits 212 W. Front St.
Technically, Tom Connors, director of the Carbon County Animal Shelter, closed on the home last week, but if you ask him who owns it, he’ll say it belongs to a pair of dogs currently residing at the shelter.
The two pups, a 14-year-old basset hound named Lilly Belle and an 8-year-old Rottweiler called Sugar, came to the shelter in May after the unexpected death of their owner.
Not long ago, Lilly Belle and Sugar were both service dogs who offered company to veterans at a Veterans Affairs center in Wilkes-Barre. But a single bark stripped Sugar, who’s temperamental, of her service dog title.
With an unexpected surgery coming up, Fran Brennan reached out to the shelter earlier this year; she wanted to surrender Sugar, because Brennan was hesitant to have anyone else care for her while she recuperated.
Though Brennan didn’t hold on to that idea for long. She couldn’t part with Sugar, asking Connors instead to try to earn the dog’s trust and feed her while Brennan recovered.
Connors spent a month visiting Brennan’s home, feeding and walking Sugar. Over time, he also became good friends with Brennan.
“It was like I knew her forever,” Connors recalled.
Following Brennan’s operation, there were complications, and she died a few days later.
But Connors promised Brennan that he’d make sure Lilly Belle and Sugar were cared for, and he was intent on keeping that promise.
“These dogs helped a lot of veterans throughout their years,” Connors said, “and we don’t want to forget them.”
Knowing he wouldn’t be able to adopt Lilly Belle and Sugar out as a pair, Connors started looking for a home where he could place the dogs with a foster.
He spent months house hunting before finally landing the green and gray townhome on Front Street.
“I think it was meant to be,” Connors said. “Something must have brought me here.”
And Connors knew just who he wanted to live with the dogs: a veteran.
“Who’s better to come up with that idea than Tom?” Thomas Probert, the Army veteran from Weatherly who will be taking charge of the dogs’ care, said. “He puts his heart and soul into this job.”
Probert has been walking Lilly Belle and Sugar to make sure they’re all acquainted before moving in together, which will hopefully take place sometime next week.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
In the future, Connors said he hopes 212 W. Front St. might serve as a home for other dogs whose families are no longer able to care for them, remembering Brennan, her friendship and the love she had for her two pups.
“I think (Brennan) would be happy with the outcome,” Connors said.