Jackie Matthews, president of Saving the Animals of Rowan (STAR), answers a phone call from the Rowan County Veterinary Clinic about Gizzy, a STAR dog. Gizzy has a parasite and must be deemed safe for travel before being transported with a group of dogs later in the week. Jackie currently has a fractured fibula. STAR is a local rescue group that transports dogs to other states where dog populations are low. Jackie moved to Morehead from the Northeast to work for STAR.

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.

Jackie and another STAR volunteer, Angela Higginbotham, talk with Josh Brown of the Tri-County Animal Shelter about new STAR dogs.

Jackie reads the roster of dogs that are currently at the Tri-county Animal Shelter. The shelter recently began accepting dogs after an outbreak of kennel cough.

    Jackie checks of the dogs at the STAR Kennel the night before they embark on there journey to New Jersey.

    Jackie hold up Atticus for a social media photo at the Tri-County Animal Shelter. Jackie is wearing gloves because Atticus has mange, a skin disease caused by parasitic mites.

      Jackie hugs a new arrival at the Tri-county Animal Shelter while looking for potential "STAR Dogs."

      Jackie holds a dog in place while fellow STAR volunteer Angela Higginbotham takes a photo for the organization's social media.

        Jackie walks through her boxed filled garage after finishing up her duties to S.T.A.R. for the day. Jackie is recently moved to Morehead from a small town in New Jersey and is still in the process of moving. She hopes to sell her old house soon.

        Jackie checks some paper work at the STAR Kennel. This weekend Jackie will be transporting a group dogs up to New Jersey.

        Jan Dacci, one of the founders of STAR, and Jackie go over some final details before she heads out on her journey up north.

        Jackie's dogs wait for at the top of the stairs as she returns.

        Jackie and her wife Judy play with their more than a dozen dogs at their home in Morehead. The couple is getting their house together since their recent move from New Jersey.

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