Last night, 10 P.M, I got an email that was forwarded to me from The Bill Foundation. The email told the story about a mom (Gaia) with a broken leg who was abandoned in the middle of nowhere three months ago, and it also tells the story of the three babies she gave birth to around the same time she was dumped.
For three months, two women fed them daily, brought them fresh water, but couldn’t capture the mom, so they didn’t attempt to capture the babies. Sadly, they didn’t know where to turn for help.
After reading the email I called the Bill Foundation right away to see how we can make it work. I promised Hope For Paws would help with the mom’s medical bill, and in 2 minutes it was agreed that I will leave towards Central California at 3:00 A.M so I can make it there before sunrise.
I couldn’t fall asleep… I just wanted it to be morning already. At 3:00 A.M I started the drive up north.
When I arrived at the location, I spotted the puppies right away, but I couldn’t find the mom. I went to check on the pups, gave them some food to make an initial contact with them, and kept watching my back to make sure the mom doesn’t come behind me to defend her puppies.
Minutes later, a yellow truck stopped next to me. A really nice man was asking what I was doing, and I told him I came all the way from Los Angeles to rescue this family.
He told me that the mom died two hours ago, about a mile to the west.
He said someone hit her and ran. He arrived there shortly after it happened, pulled over, and saw her as she was dying. He decided to rush home, get his gun, and take her out of her misery – realizing her injuries were fatal.
When he got back with his gun, she was already dead.
I wanted to check it right away… I wanted to make sure she was not breathing anymore. I was sad that she was dead, and I was angry that someone would dump an animal in the middle of nowhere and not care what would happen to her. If this man didn’t show up today, I would have never known she was dead (she was pretty far from the pups), and I would still be there waiting for her to come back.
I then returned to the puppies, so I can at least save them before they would get hit by a car. I drew a sketch (below) showing how I got each puppy as this was one of the most challenging situations I ever faced, and it required special, never used before improvisation.
The pups were hiding in a storm drain that could fit them, but couldn’t even fit a small child.
Puppy #1 – Sydney (the pup in the middle): I threw food around the entrance hole. As you can see, I was positioned above them, so they couldn’t see me, and as soon as Sydney was out, I grabbed her. She screamed for her life, and really scared the other two puppies who now refused to come out for food or water.
Puppy #2 – Matilda (the pup to the right): After two hours of waiting patiently for them to relax from the trauma of their sister screaming, they wouldn’t come out. Their mom taught them really well, that when they sense danger, they should hide, and so they did. I decided to do something I have never done before, and it was to use the mom’s body to get them out. I drove with Sydney to pick up the body.
I placed her near the entry hole, and waited quietly above.
Matilda was so happy to see her mother… she ran out wagging her tail, and in a second I grabbed her too. The mom, even though she was dead, helped me save her baby, and I hope she saw it from above and appreciated the love her baby felt for her.
Puppy #3 – Gabriella (the pup to the left): This little girl is smart, and she knew her mom was not alive anymore. I have tried everything… I tied ropes to the mom’s limbs just to make her move and make the puppy believe she was alive, but that didn’t work. I placed the mom in different positions, and that didn’t work either.
The well was full with debris, so I started clearing it out using a rope with a loop… my plan was to drop a trap to the bottom, and then lift her up once she is captured. After I was done, I realized, it’s not happening as the well was too narrow.
I tried speaking to Gabriella, but she wouldn’t listen to me. I was at a desperate point… it was 100 degrees outside, I forgot to bring drinking water for myself, and I didn’t have the equipment to get her out. I was also alone, and so it made everything more difficult.
I walked to my car to see if there is anything there I could use, and then a brilliant idea came to me. Last year I bought a net gun (that turned to be a useless piece of equipment as far as net shooting / dog capturing). However, I knew the one thing this device can do is to produce a really loud sound of explosion (produced by pressurized air).
The idea was to fire a few times into the well, create a scary noise, have her run out of the pipe, and then capture her as she runs away. I fired the first round and she cried. I fired another one, and another one, and then a really nice man showed up. He was working in the area, and I was telling him about my plan. We discussed other options (like having him hold the rope as I will go down the well). I fired a few more rounds of pressurized air, and all of a sudden she started running… she got out of the storm drain, and ran into – A DIFFERENT PIPE!!!
I knew this one would be easier… I asked the guy to go to the far end, and scream into the pipe. He yelled, banged on the pipe, and Gabriella crawled away from him. She then saw me, and stopped. I looked into her eyes, then reached into the tube with my arm, allowed her sniff me for a second, then I grabbed her leg and pulled her out.
I placed her with her sisters, and I was so happy to have all of them.
I looked over at the mom, and decided to leave her where she had given birth to these beautiful babies three months ago. She was an amazing mother, she loved her babies, and it just broke my heart to know that I this email was sent to me 24 hours too late 🙁
I didn’t bury her because I knew that her body can be consumed by other animals who are struggling out there… coyotes, vultures and other hungry creatures. This is the last gift Gaia can give to others… this is nature’s recycling system, and it’s what keeps the cycle of life going.
The puppies and I started the long journey back to Southern California.
The vet is happy with their overall condition, and they are running some tests to make sure everything is OK internally (parasites, worms, etc).
Thank you so much for all your support,
Hope For Paws
It was later reported that all three of Gaia’s puppies went to good homes.