March 17, 2012, St. Patrick's Day:
This morning my day started off with trying to help animal control with a pack of stray dogs that have become aggressive and neighbors have been calling them daily for the past few weeks. After we were able to set a trap, the AC officer got a call about 2 abandoned pit bulls at a vacant house just a block away. He asked if I wanted to come with him, so we hopped in the truck and headed that way. All of a sudden my gut told me it was probably the dogs belonging to Karree, the 15 year-old that had come by our house earlier in the week, I told the officer about that situation, you can read that story here: http://www.animalrescueassistance.org/blog/2012/03/15/We-want-to-help-this-kid.aspx
We pull up to the address and it's a known squatter house for drug addicts. The officer approaches the house with caution and as soon as he looks in the first window, he sees Karree inside with the parent dogs and the 11 puppies. Karree starts freaking out and trying to get all of the puppies into a crate. The whole time the officer is asking him questions and he refuses to answer. I ask him why he never came back to our house with the mom and puppies. He said he had changed his mind. It broke my heart to know he was staying in this house with these dogs for the last week, missing school. He is furious and obviously thinks I called animal control, but I honestly had no idea he was in this house.
He ties the adult dogs to his belt loop with a leash and a tie out and starts dragging the crate with the puppies down the road. This breaks my heart, I plead with him to please just let me help him. The AC officer calls for police back up since he refuses to listen to him. We hop in the truck and follow behind him for about a mile while he is dragging the adult dogs and the crate of puppies down a busy street. I do my best to fight back tears, it has to be one of the saddest things I've ever seen. He obviously loves his dogs, but the truth is he can't be staying in an abandoned house with them and skipping school.
He heads down a dirt path he knows we can't follow him on in the truck. I hop out and tell the AC officer where to drive to the end of the path. I chase after him and again beg him to please let me help. I promise him I will give the dogs back to him if he just lets me take care of them until they move into their new house that allows dogs. He is so angry and refuses to listen to me. I try to explain that I did not call AC, that I just happened to be riding around with them when they got the call, but I can tell he still doesn't believe me.
We get to the end of the trail and a stray dog approaches. His male dog is extremely dog aggressive but usually gets along with the mom dog. His male dog starts freaking out trying to get to the stray dog. I try to run off the stray dog, but his male dog is going crazy. The female dog tries to get away from him and manages to get loose and starts to run away. I chase after her and bring her back to him. We are both fighting back to tears. The AC truck pulls up into the parking lot where the trail ended at and there is a couple that have set up a car wash station. They ask Karree what's going on and he tells them we are trying to take his dogs. The man says he is Karree's cousin, but I later find out he is just a close family friend. The man tells the AC officer to leave the teen alone. I try to explain that he has been staying in an abandoned house and that the burden of trying to care for these puppies is effecting his quality of life. The AC officer and the man get into a heated argument. I keep telling him we are going to lose track of Karree. I'm trying to keep an eye on him, but I look away for a minute and lose him. We hop back in the truck and tried to find him. We drive around the block a few times and see no sign. All of a sudden I see the crate in the middle of a busy intersection. My heart drops and I jump out of the truck. There's still no sign of Karree and the crate is empty.
We drive back to the parking lot with the couple washing cars. The AC officer is convinced Karree stashed the dogs there. The woman said Karree and the dogs aren't there, but then I see Karree behind an abandon building in the parking lot talking to the man. He sees me and takes off running. He doesn't have the dogs with him. I chase after him for a good while, jumping fences (ripped my pants). I lose him and head back to the parking lot. The AC officer is threatening to write the man a ticket for obstructing an officer and they are arguing. The cop FINALLY shows up. He listens to what the man has to say and explains that we are only trying to help the teen.
I'm sitting there thinking he is probably in another abandoned house by now. I know it will be literally impossible to find him now. At that moment I notice a comforter in the corner of the carport of the abandon building in the parking lot. I race over there and sure enough, the puppies are there wrapped in the comforter. Of course the couple had lied when the AC officer asked if they knew where the boy put the dogs. The couple becomes hostile saying they are taking the puppies, the AC officer tells them no that they will be going to animal control or he can release them to me since I have a licensed shelter and my paperwork is on file at AC. The couple gets very angry yelling at me, telling me they are taking the puppies. I try to explain to them Karree has been begging for help from me and the Coalition to Unchain Dogs for 2 weeks. He is just upset because he thinks I called AC, which I did not. The officer also tries to explain to them what happened but they refuse to listen. They tell us all the teen has is those dogs. I explain that the pressure of trying to care for these puppies is too much for him and staying in abandon houses is dangerous and no place for a minor. I know they just want to give him back the puppies, but I know that is not what would be best for him.
The police officer tells them that they need to listen to me and see that I'm only trying to help the teen. The AC officer calls his manger to asks what to do and the manger tells him to release the puppies to Atlanta Bully Rescue. We put the puppies in the truck and we head back to my house. I get the puppies situated and plan to head out to get puppy formula to start bottle feeding, hoping that maybe I can still talk Karree into letting us keep the mom dog until the puppies are 8 weeks old. There's a knock at the door and it's Karree, I also see that the AC truck is still in my driveway. I go outside and Karree tells me his mom wants to talk to me. She's at the end of the driveway in tears and I brace myself for a confrontation and I'm completely surprised when she embraces me with a big hug and thanks me for trying to help her son. She tells me they love their dogs but the landlord said they had to go so that's why her son was keeping them in the abandoned house. She says they will be moving soon into a new house that allows dogs. She says she wants all of the puppies back to give away to her friends once they are old enough. I explain to her that I can help and keep the mom and puppies until they are 8 weeks old, but they would all need to be spayed/neutered before I give them back. She hesitated, but finally agreed. She said she knew I would take good care of them and this was best for mom and puppies. She told her son they would go get the momma dog, Diamond to bring over to me.
A short time later, they walked back with Diamond. The mom gave me another big hug again and tried to explain to her son that this was best for all the dogs and him, but he didn't say a word. Mom thanked me and they headed home. Diamond obviously loves her owners because she cried and pulled on the leash trying to follow them. She was ready to choose them over her puppies. Diamond and her puppies will be staying in a foster home until the puppies are 8 weeks old and then she will be spayed and returned to her owners. The owners have the option of taking the puppies back too once they are fixed. I know this will upset a lot of people, but the goal is to take the burden off of the teen of having to find a place for mom to nurse puppies, since no dogs are allowed at their current home. I have a feeling they won't want all of the puppies back. It's not the best case scenario, but it's better than the teen and the dogs staying in an abandoned house.
If you would like to donate towards the care of Diamond and her pups, you can do so by clicking here