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Last Tuesday my wife Kristen and I had the opportunity to spend the day with Donna from Stray Rescue. She told us about a puppy she had rescued a few weeks ago – she sad seen the pup’s parents. So, we went back for them.

Their dwelling was long abandoned (with most of the houses on that street); an old brick house collapsing, moldy and rotten. There were huge holes in the floor requiring careful footwork to make it into the building without dropping to the basement below. Dogs barked inside guarding their “home.”

We went up the staircase, walking over old clothing and debris and rotted wood. Chunks of missing ceiling allowed light inside, and the momma dog cowered in a back room. As we approached, she fled to a tiny closet. Donna opened a can of hot dogs and began tossing them to the terrified pup, talking to her softly while continuing to move closer.

Kristen heard movement behind us and looked up to see the male dog apprehensively coming down stairs. He seemed unsure what to do – protect his home or go with us. I took a slip leash and tried to relax him, and myself (he was a strong black pit):

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I went up the stairs to coax the papa dog down. He wouldn’t eat the hot dog I offered but let me slip a leash over his head. He pulled back. But I gently talked to him and walked him down the stairs and out the house.

Outside he relaxed, then wagged his tail and closed his eyes as I scratched his head and petted him. The side of his neck was an open, oozing wound, punctuated by a deep hole in his ear. He did not seem to care, things were changing for him – petting, leash, car.

Momma dog was hesitant to leave the closet. She did not yet trust us, and her facial scars and broken teeth told us her reluctance well placed. We eventually carried her down the stairs and over the gaping holes in the floor to the yard with her companion. Once in Donna’s jeep heading back to the shelter, she rested her tired head in my lap and closed her eyes.

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we settled Sam and Diane into their new apartments at Stray Rescue (after shots and medical attention) Donna got a call from a concerned neighbor about five to seven puppies running loose in East St. Louis. We made our way across the bridge and Donna relayed how difficult it can be to catch puppies, especially if they are hiding in a wooded area or without their momma.

We spotted three pups in the backyard, but they darted into the weedy tangle of bushes and trees. We began to comb through the overgrowth looking, and listening, for the puppies. They ran from us.

Donna suggested setting a trap – a large wire kennel with a door that would close when their weight triggered it. She poured out a can of dog food and we waited.

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Two puppies approached the trap and enthusiastically began eating, but their weight did not trigger the trap to shut. You could see their ribs protruding above their bloated bellies and they dashed back into the thicket. Donna made a few adjustments to the trap and we waited again, successfully confining two pups.

Two more trap settings yielded three more puppies. The five babies huddled together in the back of Donna’s jeep terrified. At stray rescue they got medical care, food and water. We named the ten week old puppies after Missouri rivers and took them to our house to foster.

Spending a day doing this made us appreciate the hard work done by folks rescuing animals in St. Louis and everywhere. Hard work that usually doesn’t yield the success we had. Click here to adopt a puppy from stray rescue.

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