GULFPORT -- Ryshawn Hammock arrived at the Humane Society of South Mississippi at 1:30 a.m. to wait for his chance to provide a new home for one of the 18 Yorkshire terriers up for adoption following their removal from a Gulfport home.
When he got to the shelter, he and his friends were greeted by Bill Roessling and his mother, Brenda, who'd arrived about the same time.
Hammock had to drive from Macon the evening before to make sure he could get there early to get himself a dog, his first.
"I'm so excited because it's the first to go home with a pet," he said. He named his new buddy, age 8 and suffering from a few treatable health problems, Mr. Bear Hammock. By early Saturday, he was busy attaching a new name tag on Mr. Bear's collar.
"I'm just happy and excited to be a new adopter, and you know I want to make him a new home because I know they came from a rough background," he said. "When I get him home, I'm going to give him his meds and I'm going to show him to my family."
Hammock said he also didn't let it bother him that his new pup was very sick when he arrived at the shelter and had to undergo a procedure during which Mr. Bear nearly died. His new dog suffers from a heart murmur and an ear infection, and that's just fine with him.
"I just think he's the right one for me," he said. "I want to take care of him."
Bill Roessling was equally determined to adopt one of the rescued dogs; he had lost his Yorkie in 2005's Hurricane Katrina.
"We love Yorkies," he said. "We wanted to give her a nice home."
His mother kept him company in the line until he finally got his new dog, affectionately named Maggie after his Yorkie who died in the storm.
Bill Roessling he nestled Maggie in his arms as he left. The pooch was still a little shaky and scared because of where she'd come from.
Hammock and Roessling were among more than 30 or more hopefuls who came to try to adopt one of the dogs.
Some left after they realized others had gotten there so early and there wouldn't be any left by the time they had their chance to look.
By 11:30 a.m., all the Yorkies had been adopted.
One of the dogs taken from a Gulfport home, where he was living in filth, is still looking for a forever home.
Buck, who does have heartworm, is a gentle dog and hangs out in an office where he has a big bed on the floor to stretch out on.
Shelter officials are hoping someone will consider adopting Buck, who is believed to be a mix of Labrador retriever and a Shepherd dog.
"Buck is a perfect gentleman," Dawn Boob, HSSM's director of operations, said. "He would be great for anyone whether you have children, whether you are an older couple and you want a sedate dog, this is the one for you. He does have some health issues but all of his health issues are treatable."
He is available for what Boob called "slumber parties" -- he can spend a couple of nights with a family and they can see if he's a good fit.
HSSM officials felt good about the adoptions that came so quickly.
But they are also encouraging people to consider adopting some of the other pets at the shelter who still need a good home.
HSSM volunteer Flo Sheffel said she was overwhelmed by the response, though she said it's been "pretty emotional for the staff and volunteers who have been here caring for these animals."
"But, you know, we have been waiting for this day for them to finally go home with loving families and have a chance at a life they've never had."
HSSM staff said 10 rescued Yorkie puppies remain in foster care and should be up for adoption in about a month.