Three abandoned puppies that had quite an adventure recently are now safe in foster homes and awaiting adoption thanks to local animal rescue volunteers and the efforts of Turlock and Merced vet clinics.
Sarah Bell was on her way to work at a Merced veterinary office last week when she spotted a puppy wondering along the side of busy Hwy. 59. When she went to investigate, the puppy - and two of its siblings - were found stuck in a drainage pipe.
Bell knew just who to call to help get the puppies free. She and a few friends started an animal rescue organization just last year. Soon, Bell and three members of Techs 4 Pets Animal Rescue - and a few passersby who wanted to help - were on their hands and knees doing everything they could to coax the three frightened puppies out of the pipe.
Finally, as midnight approached, the volunteers were able to get the puppies to move close enough to one end of the pipe that they were able to get a leash around one of them and pull him safely out. Tired and very scared, he was calmed and comforted and immediately taken to the group's veterinarian. He was covered in ticks, full of roundworms and clearly had little to no socialization with people.
The remaining two puppies could not be made to budge, so the group blocked one side of the pipe and set a live trap loaded with food at the other end, hoping that by morning one would be hungry enough to explore the cage.
To their great delight and relief, that next morning they found the trap had worked; one pup was in the trap and the other still in the drainage pipe. Within an hour of setting the trap again, the third and final pup was finally removed to safety. All three pups had been rescued from the danger of the busy highway but this is not the end of their journey.
The puppies all appeared to have been neglected in their short life, according to Bell. They were treated for internal parasite and tick infestations, and two out of three tested positive for parvovirus. They are currently being cared for by the vets and staff of Santa Fe Pet Hospital in Merced and Taylor Vet in Turlock.
"We are happy to have saved these pups from the dangers of the highway but just think - we could have all been home with our families if someone would only have been responsible enough to spay and neuter," Bell said.
This is not the first adventure for Techs 4 Pets. Almost a year to the day, the group found three Border collie mix puppies wondering around a large cattle ranch; they were visibly sick and emaciated.
"We could only save two; the other had distemper and had to put down," said Bell.
The future for the three puppies stuck in the drainage pipe is much brighter. "Mina," "Piper" and "Rhodie" are physically on the mend and responding well to the love and care given by the volunteers and vet staff.
Piper was taken to Taylor Vet in Turlock for emergency care because of her condition. A vet employee then took her home to provide foster care.
"We got an update from the foster home today," said Bell on Tuesday. "Piper is still scared - she was the most scared of all of them - but this morning when she took her food (Piper) wagged her tail, which is very encouraging."
Bell and the Techs 4 Pets group are hoping to get the word out about spaying and neutering, something they think will help control unwanted puppies and kittens.
"If you look at the numbers at the Merced and Stanislaus county shelters, they are going up," said Bell. "This is a bad area for people - whether they just don't know or can't afford it. We hope to educate the public on the importance of spaying and neutering."
Right now, Techs 4 Pets relies solely on its very limited number of foster homes, but are planning to build a large, no-kill animal rescue facility in Merced County. The group is currently in the process of obtaining its federal nonprofit status and is on schedule to do so by the end of the year. They have already rescued over 50 animals in just over a year - animals that have been placed in loving homes and rescues throughout California and as far as Michigan.
Techs 4 Pets will be having a fundraiser at Rizzonelli's Italian Restaurant in Atwater on April 21. It is a takeout Italian dinner served from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. that includes chicken parmesan, rigatoni, salad and bread. Tickets are $10 each and profits go directly towards helping these pups and other animals in need. To purchase tickets or for more information about the event, contact Tina Capizzi at 631-4156 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updates on the rescued puppies and other Techs 4 Pets events can be found at facebook/techsfour-pets.