From Trash to Treasure

By Susan Apel
Client Care Coordinator
BluePearl Veterinary Partners – Tampa

Years ago I worked as an Animal Control Officer on Long Island in New York. One afternoon I received a call from my dispatcher about a puppy in a dumpster. How could a puppy possibly get into a dumpster?

When I arrived on the scene and walked up to the dumpster, I could hear the puppy whimpering, echoing in the metal belly of the dumpster. Pushing the lid open and then peering inside, I saw a helpless black and tan puppy that couldn’t have been more than three months old. However, the scene of this pitiful animal being “thrown out” wasn’t the worst of it. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the young pup’s back legs were taped together with duct tape and the front legs were taped together also,  as well as around its muzzle. To top it all off, it appeared that the puppy’s tail was hacked off. This wasn’t just a tail dock; the tail was jaggedly chopped off. As anyone with a conscious would, so many emotions filled my heart – sadness, and anger especially.

After assessing the situation and positioning of the puppy, I decided it best to use my noose pole to lift the puppy out. With little difficulty, I was able to raise the helpless puppy out of the dumpster and then gently cut and remove the duct tape. While I was removing the tape I noticed the pup was a female and looked a lot like a Rottweiler, though not a pure bred. I couldn’t imagine how traumatized this puppy must have been, so instead of placing her in a cage for transport, I gently laid her down on the passenger side of the front seat next to me so I could pet her head as I drove.

Instead of taking the puppy directly to the animal shelter, I took her to one of the animal hospitals who worked with us because of the severe trauma to her tail. At the hospital the veterinarian assessed the tail and the rest of her body for any additional wounds. She listened to the puppy’s heart and lungs. The doctor informed me that she appeared healthy and in good condition besides the tail wound. I was told that she would have to stay at the hospital for a few days so the doctor could clean up her tail and start a course of antibiotics.

The next day when I stopped by the animal hospital to check on the puppy, the technicians told me that she did well overnight; that she was bright, alert, and recovered well from her procedure. Then I went to her cage and opened it up and as I pet her head she leaned up and licked my face. During my visit one of the technicians told me that one of their long-term clients had lost his Rottweiler last evening due to illness. She told me that the client had seen the puppy and was very interested in adopting it. She then told me what a wonderful pet owner this man was and how well he cared for his pets. The Rottweiler he had to euthanize the evening before was almost 14 years old. After I left the hospital, I contacted my supervisor regarding this man adopting the “dumpster puppy.”  His decision was that as long as no owner stepped forward within five days then the pup could be adopted.

A day later I went back to the animal hospital to visit the pup and let the technicians know my supervisor’s decision to find the man already at the puppy’s cage visiting with her. I introduced myself and we spoke for a bit. He seemed like a really nice man. Four days later the puppy became his.

One year later, I received a call from my dispatcher of a stray dog confined on the complainant’s property. Upon arriving to the address I was given, I was met by a man who looked familiar to me. He greeted me and then escorted me to his backyard where the stray dog was confined. I slipped my rope around the dog’s neck and walked it out of the yard.

As I walked the dog to my truck, the man said to me, “You look familiar to me. Do we know each other from somewhere?”

I responded, “Yeah, I feel the same way. Where do I know you from?”

Finally, he announced, “Wait…you are the officer who brought Peaches to the hospital, aren’t you?”

“Peaches?”  I questioned.

He then explained to me that he was the client who adopted the dumpster puppy. Then he asked me if I would like to see her. Without question, I responded with “Absolutely!”

As I followed him into his house, he explained to me that she tends to be leery of strangers, so not to be surprised if she growls and refuses to approach me. Once inside the house, I waited by the front door while he went to get the dog from a room she was confined in. When the dog came into view, my heart filled with joy at the sight of her. She had become a beautiful dog that looked very much like a Rottweiler. She looked to be about 75 to 80 pounds with a gorgeous shiny black coat. She took one look at me, cocked her head to the side and then charged me. For a moment I became nervous, though I stood my ground because her body language did not indicate aggression. As she approached me, she jumped up, placing her front paws on my chest and began licking my face.

Shocked, the man said, “Wow…I have never seen her do that to someone she just met.”

“Perhaps she remembers me,”  I responded.