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May 10, 2022

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Written by: Bob Guere

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Last Saturday I went on FB and saw some pictures that had been posted of a dog that I recognized as one that has been running in my rural neighborhood for years. I’ve never been able to track her to where she lives as she’s pretty close to feral and just disappears into the land. The pictures showed her and some puppies on a piece of land that I recognized so when I got no response from the poster as to where the pictures were taken, I jumped in my car and drove to where I thought it was. Sure enough there she was looking hungry, tired and utterly defeated. She was accompanied by 6 very undernourished pups. They were living on a property behind my land and over a few properties that is full of debris and trash, under an old Jacuzzi. Anyway I impulsively took out my camera and started snapping pictures of her and the pups. I ran home and also impulsively created a photo album that got immediate and demanding attention.

On the second day I was out there feeding and watering (which mama dog was very appreciative of) and came across another nursing mother. This one is more feral than the other and 1/2 coyote. So I took more pictures and again impulsively posted to my album which then garnered even more attention.

On the third day I was out there feeding and watering there was a very social intact male dog who is most likely the father of the puppies. I have seen him around and think he belongs to someone in the area. While I was there, suddenly a man came out of a dilapidated camper and wanted to know what I was doing there. At the time I referred to him as “Scary, Creepy, Squatter, Guy” and have since come to know him as Marcos. It was pretty scary as I was out there alone. After talking to him it turns out that the dogs are not his. They just took up residence on the property that he resides (he doesn’t own the property and may be there illegally. Don’t know don’t care). Evidently the dogs lived on the property next to him with over 20 other dogs that Animal control came and rounded up. They were unsuccessful at capturing these two which are mother and daughter and very wily. The people who lived there were arrested for “massive quantities of PCP” and other various charges and the dogs were just abandoned. Marcos has been there for 10+ years. He has no running water, gas or electricity. He’s also 65 years old and in failing health. He looked as hungry, tired and defeated as mama dog. He said he likes having them there as they warn him when intruders come. I wasn’t sure of his mental capacities. He bent my ear for over 2 1/2 hours with stories that were pretty extraordinary. I found out that he was a former Vietnam Vet that did 2 tours in the USMC as a Recon Specialist and Sgt. I got the impression that he may have been dishonorably discharged. He said that he killed his Lieutenant on his second tour for giving him an order that would have cost the lives of his entire Squad. He laughed as he described the incident in astonishing detail. The military is usually not very forgiving of that sort of thing. That threw a huge twist on things. I didn’t want to bully him. I decided that he needed to be treated with dignity and respect. When I suggested this on FB the shit hit the fan and all the crazy “rescue” idiots came out of the woodwork and went on the attack. They wanted a witch hunt and to storm the property. So I hid my album and quietly began working some of the leads I had gotten in the few days that it was posted. Lori Rosano had sent me an email saying that she had already rounded up some donations (she didn’t say how much) and was looking into different rescue and foster options. She also put the situation in front of a wonderful animal organization in San Diego. They are keen to help and allowing us to go at a delicate pace. I wanted all the dogs to put on some weight and get some vaccines on board before the stress of removal. I also wanted Marcos to agree that removing them would be best. This is not a man that does well with authority and is about as feral as those dogs. Strikes me of the type that would give you the shirt off his back if you ask but if you try to take it he would just as soon cut your throat and not even blink. Over a shirt.

I’ve been going over every evening all week and bringing fresh food and water for the dogs and the human. All have been putting on weight and Marcos says his pants aren’t fitting right anymore. I’ve also been working on assessing the adoptability of the dogs and socializing with them. At the same time I have been assembling a team of highly qualified individuals with various specialties including a woman from this area by the name of Annie who runs a homeless shelter for people with pets who many are Vietnam Vets. She is also certified in chemical capture/remote immobilization. She’s been lending her support with how to communicate with Marcos as are some ACO friends of mine that are dealing with a similar situation in Apple Valley. The supervisor of a local shelter and Head Vet Tech has offered advice on the overall health and wellbeing of the dogs. Lori has been an amazing support. Offering up supplies, words of wisdom and her ever bright smile. All week she has been tirelessly pulling together resources and rallying the troops to bring this to a conclusion. I purchased vaccines and last night Lori came out with a car full of supplies. We went over and successfully vaccinated and dewormed all of the puppies. We think it best for the vaccines to sit with the puppies for a week as Parvo is very prevalent out here. So far they look good, alert and very chunky. We are looking for a rescue to take the 6 puppies. You might want to contact her and find out exactly what resources she’s pulled together for them when bringing this to your coordinator. There are also various others that have been working on fundraising for them. I’m not sure what it all amounts to as I’ve got my hands full caring for this brood and not a lot left for the money talk.

At this point I feel that the mamas may be too feral to be good candidates for a lovy, kissy home environment. Marcos told me that the older mama charged his friend and bit him in the butt. Her puppies were only 1 week old at the time so it’s understandable but a bite is a bite. I also don’t think that they would stay in a backyard as they’ve never known fences. I imagine them escaping, in an unfamiliar environment without the support of their pack. To kennel these dogs would be cruel. So, my plan for the adults is this. On Saturday when we collect the puppies, if the dad is around I’m going to throw him in my car and take him and get him neutered. Tehehehehe! Wont his owners be surprised? I will keep him for a few days to heal then return him to the females. I think he will keep other males away when the females go back into heat. In the mean time I will work on how to capture the females with the help of Annie. They are very familiar with traps and avoid them even when they are hungry. Once we figure out how to capture them my plan is to spay and fully vet them and then return them to the area that they are familiar with. I will provide a fresh food and clean water station on the undeveloped part of my land and they can live out their lives as feral dogs in a place they are familiar with. Marcos can still feel safe that they will warn him of intruders. I think deep down in his surly ole heart he kind of enjoys their company too.

 


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