We received a call from a woman in KCK. She said that a stray dog had crawled up under her house and had a litter of puppies. She said the mom was very skittish and was in pretty bad shape. We told the woman that we don’t work in KCK anymore-we have more than enough to do in KCMO. She said she had called several organizations, including KCK animal control and she said that no one would help her. I felt sorry for the woman-she was reaching out for help and trying to find assistance for this mom and her babies and no one would help her. I told her that we’d come over and access the situation and see what we could do.
The woman had some steps leading down to a cellar-type basement. It had a dirt floor and most of it was a crawl space, only a couple of feet high. We got down there with flashlights and we saw some of the puppies. They were very small and covered in dirt. The woman told us that there were 9 of them.
When we shined our light all around the basement and up into the crawl space, we saw the glowing eyes of momma-way up in the crawl space. She was not aggressive, just petrified. We knew that we had to help these wonderful people and the mom and pups. These people had been persistent and kept making phone calls until they found Chain of Hope to help them. They put food and water down for mom, but they had never been able to touch her-she was very scared of them.
The puppies were only a couple of weeks old. We decided that we would leave them there with mom a couple of more weeks and let them nurse and get stronger. We left food for the people to continue feeding mom. I was very worried about the puppies having fleas really bad, which can make them anemic. But they also needed mom and her milk a little longer and mom was not having any of this new action around there. We left them all alone for another week. Then we decided to take our large dog trap over there, put it in the basement but not set it and just let mom get used to it being there. We left them all together for another week, while mom hopefully got used to the trap.
We knew the puppies were full or worms and fleas. We also knew that we had gotten them to the age where they could eat on their own. It was time to get them out of there. When we went over to set the trap, the whole group of puppies met us at the door! They were very mobile now!
We baited the trap and left the cellar. Of course what happened was that a couple of the puppies eventually went in the trap for the hot dogs and tripped the trap! We hadn’t counted on them being so adventuresome without mom right there with them. Had to change plans! We decided that we had better load up the puppies and get them out of there and then set the trap for mom and shut the cellar door. Well, we only had 8 puppies when we rounded them up into the pet taxi. Mom had one puppy with her, way up in the crawlspace. We could see both of their eyes glowing when we shined our flashlight up there. We set the trap, went back outside and waited about 15 min and then decided to go peak. Mom was in the trap! And there was the one puppy, sitting beside the trap and crying loudly! He got scared and ran behind the water heater. I reached back there and got him. He was safe, although very scared. He had not been handled by humans ever. The first thing I did was put the puppy in the trap with momma. Hopefully, that helped them both feel a little bit better.
Mom was in rough shape. She was missing a lot of hair. It was either a severe flea problem or mange. She had a gash on her hip. She was scared and her eyes spoke of a very hard life.
We got the family loaded up and back to Chain of Hope. It was difficult getting mom out of the trap and situated with her babies. We set up our isolation room for them to be in, but mom did not want to stay in there with the puppies. She ran to a corner in our back hallway and huddled back there. It was very sad. We tried to talk to her, etc., but she would barely make eye contact and quickly look away or sit there with her head ducked. It was terrible to watch. We just had a hands off approach and let her be, letting her settle in. We’ve had to do that with a lot of the dogs we’ve brought into our program because a lot of them are so scared and unsocial. Usually just not pressuring them and letting them figure everything out, they’ll start coming around. We didn’t want to add to her stress. Needless to say, we couldn’t even think about taking her outside to potty-we couldn’t even touch her. We laid out papers on the floor and she would go on there when no one was around. She would jump over the baby gate when the puppies demanded her presence and her teats and nurse them and then jump back out and go to her corner.
The puppies were absolutely loaded with fleas-it was disgusting. We got them all bathed and de-flea’d. They were exhausted.
Because we are primarily an outreach group and not an adoption group, we try to move animals that we rescue on through other resources when we can. Although we do have many animals in our program, the more that we can move on, the more we can rescue from the front lines, out on the streets and in the backyards that nobody else sees. A wonderful local group called TARA (The Animal Rescue Alliance) helps Chain of Hope tremendously, especially with moms and puppies. They have helped save many moms and litters over the years with us and we deeply appreciate their help! I contacted them about these little ones and they said that they would work on getting a foster home for them.
Mom was not coming around. We could not get a slip lead on her, or even touch her. If we did touch her foot or something, she would pull it away and get as far back in her corner as she could. I brought her all kinds of good things to eat, from McD’s breakfast sandwiches, cheese burgers, hot dogs-she would never eat anything in front of us, as hard as we tried to entice her with special things. The food would be gone later, but we would never see her eat. She was pretty destructive at night. We’d come in in the morning and she would’ve knocked over everything, torn mini-blinds, etc. She wanted out of there. You could always tell she’d been up on the windows, which was very sad to me that she was that frantic to escape and get out.
TARA emailed us and they had a foster home ready for the babies! Carolyn is great and has fostered many puppies that came from Chain of Hope. Thank you, Carolyn! This woman has this down! She has a great set up and takes excellent care of these little ones.
Mom was not doing well. We came in one morning and she had totally ripped down almost all of the mini-blinds. Everything was knocked over-it was terrible and it was obvious that she was in much distress. We finally had to look at this for what it was. Momma was pretty feral. After 3 weeks at Chain of Hope, in a quiet environment in the back of the building, we still could not even get a slip lead on her or pet her. It was with very heavy hearts that the board decided that we needed to euthanize Momma, who I named Shelby. She was very unhappy, she was very, very stressed-even frantic at times. She was not going to make it and it sucked to think about the life that she’d had. It was too much to even think about. If anybody thinks that making these decisions is easy, it is not. It is very, very sad and depressing. There are days when I don’t think I can do this-it’s too hard.
Shelby had so many severe issues, from her mental state to her physical condition, which was poor. We must think of the animals that we have up for adoption and those waiting for help and liberation in their backyards that have no issues at all and are crying for a place to go. These tough decisions rob us of many nights’ sleep, our joy, and a piece of our heart each and every time. We loved Shelby. I hope, in some way, that she could sense that in her short time with us, as scared as she was. I hope she at least knew that we were kind.