Thursday, July 19, 2018

Saving Elsa

Last week I got a call about weird noises behind some apartments. The complainant said "Maybe a dog, maybe a coyote. I don't know, but you gotta come check it out." I did, and I discovered a 6 foot wooden fence in the woods. Inside the fence was a pit about 20 feet wide, 100 feet long and 5 feet deep. The pit was muddy, overgrown and teeming with frogs and bugs. Lots of annoying, biting bugs. There were 2x6 boards across the pit, making me wonder if this was intended to be a building once upon a time. At one end of the fence was a gate, secured with a rusty chain and a giant lock. At the other end, hiding in the brush, was a skinny German shepherd. I couldn't figure out how the dog got in there. No matter though, my job was to figure out how to get the dog out.
  • The dog was large, skittish and mobile. This was good, as I had time to come up with a game plan. However, she wouldn't come when to me. I had to figure out how to get in the pit, catch her without her biting me, and get out.
  • I found the property owner and got permission to cut the lock. This takes time, but it is very important. The 4th Amendment is real squeamish about government agents -- like me! -- breaking into private property. I love dogs, but I also love not going to jail. Just sayin . . .
  • I called the animal control officers from neighboring beach cities. (My girls!) We're friends as well as colleagues, and help each other all the time.
  • I rounded up a couple strong men from Public Works (my boys!) and asked them to bring a ladder, muck boots and bolt cutters.
  • A couple of the police officers showed up too, mostly because they were curious.
  • I had a large dog trap and canned food on standby, just in case we couldn't catch her. (It's always good to have a Plan B.)
Several of us crawled into the pit with catch poles. Ducking under beams and around barbed vines, we made our way to the back of the pit. The mud was 6 inches deep in some places. Once the dog saw us, she ran (of course) and we had to turn around and try again. It was slow going. This went on for 20 minutes until one of us got a lucky shot and was able to loop the pole around the dog's neck as she ran by.

The dog was skinny and scared, snapping at anybody who got too close. We were able to pull her out of the pit without getting bit and took her back to my kennel. I hosed her off and scanned her. She had a microchip! I was able to trace the chip back to her vet's office. They said bring her in right away.


The dog's name was Elsa, and she went missing back in December of 2017. At the time she was an overweight 114 pounds. When I found her she was an emaciated 44 pounds, but she was alive! Elsa spent the rest of the week at the veterinary hospital where she was slowly reintroduced to food. She was surprisingly healthy, all things considered. She has just been reunited with her family. The family is overwhelmed and asking for privacy. I totally get it. I don't like to be in the spotlight either.

Anyway, one of the police officers took pictures at the scene (above) and sent them to my boss. Somehow they made it to the department's FB page and the news hounded my office for days wanting an interview. I find bipolar chihuahuas to be more trustworthy than our local news reporters, so I didn't oblige. Eventually there was a tragedy somewhere else and I became yesterday's news. However, I love my blog buddies and thought you'd like the story. It's days like this that make me stay at my job. Remember that when I share the raccoon story later this week. TTFN, -- K

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