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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Illusive Lucy and The Kindness of Strangers

It was probably about a month and a half ago that area residents noticed a black and white dog hanging around in their local neighborhood park. There was some concern at first because, well "she" is a Pit Bull Terrier. She didn't seem to be bothering anyone, and would run away and disappear. Some may have thought she was just loose and went back home. Until they saw her again and again, in the same area. She had that nervous, scared anticipation and some began to realize that she was abandoned.
Our Animal Field Services was called out a couple of times. But the Officers closed the cases because the dog was not seen. When a dog is not there we cannot spend a lot of time searching for it. especially in a large open space like a park and field.
Park Tower
photo courtesy of Vanessa K.
I got called out on another call.This time a man who had been offering food and water to her wanted to see if we could come out and catch her. I got out there and saw her in what would be known as her main hang out area, the Park Tower. But there was no catching her that day. I could see already that this was going to be difficult. By this time she had been out there for at least 2 weeks and was getting pretty good at knowing her way around and her hiding spots.
Our next encounter, myself and two other officers went out. One officer had a Tranq gun to attempt a chemical capture. We saw her but she was once again illusive and disappeared into thin air.
Field Tower
photo courtesy of Vanessa K.
I went back out a few more times to to see if I could see her again. I noticed that the food bowls and water bowls were increasing. and that there was a large plastic crate. And I was also told about her second hangout, the Field Tower. It wasn't until later that through a volunteer meeting I attended and the networking of face book I found out that one or more of our shelter supporters and volunteers were also trying to rescue this dog.
We began trying to somewhat coordinate our rescue efforts. It was hard for me to try to make any long term commitments due to having other obligations. But we were communicating to try to get this dog some help. During all this there were reports of another dog being seen on and off with her. A black German Shepherd mix who seem to hang out for a few days then disappear a few days. He too was being shy and skittish. I suspected that the black dog lived in the area and was escaping home to be with his new found friend. My suspicions would be nearly confirmed with what would soon be discovered.
The sightings and calls continued for nearly a month more, as well as all the efforts to rescue now both dogs. A trap was even brought out by the rescuers to try to capture them. But Lucy was too wily. One rescuer, Lisa C. in particular was spending a lot of her free time, mornings and nights trying to earn the trust of Lucy. She fortunately lives in the area and was determined to help the dogs.
Lisa and another animal rescuer and supporter Vanessa K. were both very active in trying to get these dogs rescued. And apparently a few neighbors were concerned too as the food and treats increased. But now the setback was Lucy and her friend were getting too well taken care of and were getting picky. So the trap was not going to work. Signs were posted to please stop feeding them, leave a small treat in the crate or fill up the water dishes, but no more over feeding. The ladies were able to start hand feeding them, especially diligent Lisa. Lucy was really coming around to her.
Lucy's Crate
photo courtesy of Vanessa K.
I received a message that Lisa had almost been successful in getting a leash on Lucy! Almost. Something went wrong and Lisa dropped something, her face made contact with the top of Lucy's head and BONK Lisa gets a split lip! Lisa was a little shaken, having not a lot of experience with large breed dogs, but even after that she was still committed to rescuing Lucy.
Then a call comes in from the Sheriff's Department. Report of 2 dogs, a black and white pit bull, and a black lab or shepherd with their legs zip-tied. I heard the address and knew it was them. My heart leaped and sank at the same time. The pit bull was reportedly attacking anyone who gets near the black dog. I had already clocked out for the day. But I knew how busy the Swing Officer was, and he was no where near this location. And I had committed to myself to help these dogs in any way I could. So I took the call.
My first thought when I got there was how strange it was they had made their way to the local High School Baseball field. With school just having started, and lots of people around, why would illusive Lucy and her friend go to such a public place several blocks from their park? With Deputy Smith from the Sheriff's Department we drove onto the field and spoke with one of the callers. I also was trying to get ahold of Lisa. The caller told us that the black dog's legs were zip-tied and he can barely move but the black and white dog wouldn't let anyone get close to help him. They pointed them out to us. Both dogs were laying in the grass head to head appearing to just be relaxing in the sun. They closed the baseball field up as we approached. Lucy's head popped up when she heard us. She looked straight at me and got up. The Deputy and I slowly approached. Lucy gave a little whine, sniffed her friend's head as he sat up and then she bolted. We tried to catch her and I was even going to try to have Lisa come out and see if she would trust her enough to get a leash on her. But she knew where a hole was in the fence and she was gone.
With the hope of catching her gone for the moment I was able to turn my attention on the Black Shepherd. He had stood up by this time and his condition was painfully evident. Someone had put thick black zip-ties around the long bones of both of his front legs. They were so tight that the leg and foot below the zip-tie was horribly swollen to 2-3 times their normal size. He was in obvious pain trying to walk. Deputy Smith and I acted quickly. I restrained the dog and Deputy Smith had to pretty much saw through the thick plastic of the zip-ties. As soon as both ties were off I could feel a breath of relief from the dog I was holding down. I loaded him up into the truck to get him to the ER vet.
You have to wonder, did Lucy bring him here on purpose? Knowing that there would be so many people around? Did she know that people would help her friend? I've heard stranger things happening.
I felt a little guilty leaving Lucy behind that night, taking her friend away, knowing she would be alone. But I try to balance that with saving the shepherd's life. If he hadn't been found, and soon, his legs would have suffered irreversible damage and may have even caused death.
Jupiter's intake at Shelter
Can still see a little swelling in his legs
I know this shook up Lisa a bit. But bless her for continuing on her mission. The vet said the shepherd should be OK, didn't look like there was any lasting damage. By the time I got to the Vet the swelling had gone down significantly. He was put on some antibiotics and pain meds to help him out.
Now as shy as he had been reported to be and myself and the deputy having to hold him down to get them off. I can only come to the conclusion that someone he knew put them on him? Maybe it was the owner's bizarre and cruel attempt to keep the dog from escaping and hanging out with Lucy. Unfortunately we have no way of knowing who they are or finding the owners unless they come forward.
I have worried even more about Lucy ever since that night. Then I got a message that Lisa had made a small victory. She had been able to lure Lucy into her backyard. Unfortunately, it was only for about 20 minutes, when Lucy found a broken fence board.
The Illusive Lucy, named by a neighborhood boy
 because she was "loosey"
photo courtesy of Vanessa K.
And then breaking new Monday Night. Lucy is safe! Lisa finally got her to trust her enough to come into her house! And then into her car! And now she is safe and sound. Off the streets in the care of a trainer who is going to help her decompress from her time on the streets and get her ready for a forever home.
The black Shepherd has been named Jupiter by shelter staff, he has passed his behavior evaluation and has been classified as "Goofy". He's a young dog, maybe between 10 months and a year. He's got a full wonderful life ahead of him.
The beginning of happy endings for both dogs.
I would like to give a special thank you and bravo to Lisa C., Vanessa K., Deputy Smith and the nameless others who worked and continue to work to save these dogs. You are Animal Heroes!

And a Special Note From Lisa C. about her husband Brian:
"Almost left out is the role Brian played. After the 1st attempt at leading Lucy out of the park ended in the ER for 7 stitches for my split lip, Brian went out in the park w/me the 2nd & 3rd time. He drove Lucy & I all the way to the trainers in N. Highlands - a 25 minute ride w/an 80 lbs. stray pit in his back seat. He was patient & supportive through the last month & is truly the best husband EVER."



  2. What a happy ending. Thanks so much for going the extra mile to help these dogs.

  3. See how adorable Lucy is by visiting her Petfinder link:

    I met Lucy today and got some pics and video of her and put her on my Petfinder page. She is such a sweet and silly girl! Almost immediately after being caught she settled right in to her foster home.

    Lisa C. is the Good Sam who lives in the neighborhood (had never done dog rescue previously) who saw Lucy and did not give up on catching her. Lisa is also donating her own personal funds for Lucy's vetting, board training, et cetera until Lucy finds a forever home.

    Here are three very short videos of Lucy:
    Lucy and 6-yr-old Kyleah:
    Spit Bull Lucy:
    Lucy Enjoying her back-scratch:

  4. Lucy is staying with Leah from All Star Dog Training. (She only charged $200 for a two-week board train, which is an incredible price.)

    If anyone knows of a good home for Lucy (or needs a good trainer), they can call Leah for more info and an adoption app. 916-339-0744.