‘Gay’ dog from NC animal shelter adopted by Charlotte couple

Steve Nichols and John Winn of Indian Trail, NC, adopted Fezco from Stanly County Animal Protective Services in Albemarle on Tuesday, March 22, 2022. They renamed the dog Oscar. Courtesy of Steve Nichols Steve Nichols and his partner, John Winn, were sitting on their couch over the weekend when they […]

Steve Nichols and John Winn of Indian Trail, NC, adopted Fezco from Stanly County Animal Protective Services in Albemarle on Tuesday, March 22, 2022. They renamed the dog Oscar.

Steve Nichols and John Winn of Indian Trail, NC, adopted Fezco from Stanly County Animal Protective Services in Albemarle on Tuesday, March 22, 2022. They renamed the dog Oscar.

Courtesy of Steve Nichols

Steve Nichols and his partner, John Winn, were sitting on their couch over the weekend when they saw a news story about a North Carolina dog facing the same ignorance and bigotry they’ve encountered as an openly gay couple for 33 years.

Fezco’s previous owners had surrendered him for humping another male dog, according to WCCB, which cited a Facebook post by Stanly County Animal Protective Services.

“We looked at each other and said, ‘We got to do something,’” Nichols told The Charlotte Observer on Tuesday.

Oscar and Steve
Steve Nichols and Oscar Courtesy of Steve Nichols

Nichols drove from the couple’s home in Indian Trail to Albemarle, about 40 miles northeast of Charlotte, to adopt Fezco.

“It was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard,” Nichols said about Fezco’s previous owners. “That’s just pack behavior.”

Shelter officials did not respond to an Observer request for comment.

Once Fezco’s adoption paperwork was completed, the couple renamed him Oscar, after Oscar Wilde, a gay Irish poet and playwright in the early 1890s.

Oscar’s health problems

Nichols and Oscar spent just an hour together at the Albemarle shelter Tuesday because the 5-year-old mutt wasn’t feeling well.

“What is almost as concerning as the idea that he’s gay, and that the person gave him up for that reason, is the fact that the owner apparently didn’t do anything to take care of this dog,” Nichols said.

Oscar apparently had never been to a veterinarian, according to Nichols. The dog had heartworms and wasn’t neutered.

“It was pretty apparent to me that he has not seen a good meal or a groomer in his life either,” he said.

Although feeling unwell, Oscar was “extremely sweet” and well behaved, Nichols said.

Steve Nichols and John Winn
Steve Nichols and John Winn of the Union County town of Indian Trail, NC, adopted a dog that was reportedly surrendered by owners who thought the mutt was gay. Courtesy of Steve Nichols

“He obeyed commands just like he had been listening to me all of his life,” he said. “I told him to jump in the car, he jumped in and sat down on the seat.”

Oscar was scheduled to be neutered and receive heartworm treatment at Pressly Animal Hospital on Wednesday, according to Nichols. The Greater Charlotte SPCA took in Oscar on Tuesday and will care for him during his procedures, he said.

“He’s been through an awful lot,” he said. “But we have high hopes, and the vet is very confident that he’ll be able to pull through.”

Nichols called the Stanly County shelter workers “real heroes” for taking care of Oscar.

“This was just a one time thing for us, but they do this stuff every day and deal with it all the time,” he said. “They don’t get the attention they deserve for what they’re doing.”

Harry and Oscar
Harry, a Chihuahua-terrier mix, will have a new friend when Oscar arrives at their Union County home. Courtesy of Steve Nichols

A friend for Oscar waits

Oscar is expected to be at his new home by the end of the week, where he’ll be welcomed by the couple and their Chihuahua-terrier mix, Harry. The two dogs will get along fine, but Harry will definitely be the boss, Nichols said.

“My little dog used to hump an Old English sheepdog that was five times his size just to show him he was boss,” he said.

Dogs are not a species that has intercourse for pleasure, according to Melissa Knicely of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Animal Care and Control. The humping that people often see is considered a dominance behavior, and both male and female dogs demonstrate it, she said.

The couple is going to “take it nice and easy” and give Oscar a “loving home” when he’s done with his procedures, Nichols said.

“I know it’s silly to think that a dog is gay, but if he wants to be gay as hell, he can be gay here,” he said. “We’ll still love him and take care of him.”

This story was originally published March 23, 2022 12:46 PM.

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Jonathan Limehouse is a breaking news reporter and covers all major happenings in the Charlotte area. He has covered a litany of other beats from public safety, education, public health and sports. He is a proud UNC Charlotte graduate and a Raleigh native.

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