Rescuers finally catch elusive dogA beagle that eluded rescuers’ pursuit for days while temperatures fell to minus 20, was finally captured Saturday morning near the James River Humane Society.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
A beagle that eluded rescuers’ pursuit for days while temperatures fell to minus 20, was finally captured Saturday morning near the James River Humane Society.
“It turned into a three-day affair of trying to get her during the cold weather and trying to keep her alive during the cold weather,” said Becky Johnson, animal control officer with the Jamestown Police Department. “This dog’s been out in the elements for over a week.”
The beagle hasn’t shown any signs of frostbite or other cold damage so far, but will receive a full veterinary checkup today.
Initially, Johnson was called in on Thursday to assist the Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office, which had received a report of a dog running around, but had been unable to catch her.
“Everybody was worried about the dog being out there at below-zero weather,” Johnson said.
The wind chill was predicted to reach minus 54 that night.
Johnson drove out and started trying to catch the skittish beagle, luring her with canned dog food, but even though the dog happily ate the food, she still wouldn’t approach quite close enough for Johnson to nab her.
Johnson brought in her own dog to socialize with the beagle, and show the stray that Johnson could be trusted. But every time her dog came back to her, the beagle stayed wary and kept away.
After about two and a half hours, the beagle spooked again and hid.
It was time for a new strategy.
“We set up a live trap, and baited it with food and things,” Johnson said.
That meant someone would have to check the trap every two hours or so, because leaving the beagle caged up in the cold would be dangerous, even insulated by blankets and later straw bales.
Johnson volunteered her own time to check on the trap every two hours until 11 p.m. After that, sheriff’s office deputies checked the trap every few hours until morning, when Johnson took over again. Volunteers from the Humane Society helped out too.
Sometimes the would-be rescuers checked the trap to find the beagle had walked in, eaten the food, drunk the water, and left.
The beagle was walking into the trap just far enough to reach the food, and yet managed to avoid stepping heavily on the pressure panel that would have pulled the door on the trap down.
The hopeful rescuers readjusted the trap, added some bales around it as insulation from the cold, and resumed checking the trap every two hours.
Saturday morning, their efforts finally paid off, and they found the beagle safely ensconced in the humane animal trap.
“Once we got her loaded in the pickup, her tail began to wag, and she knew that we were friendly with her and everything,” Johnson said. “She has an excellent personality.”
The 2- or 3-year-old beagle, which remains nameless, seems to have gotten over her skittishness, and quite happily walks up to strangers to be petted, tail wagging.
Johnson isn’t sure whether the dog is a stray or whether she was abandoned near the Humane Society by someone thinking she would be found and taken in.
“We really will never probably know how, or why,” Johnson said.
In the Jamestown area, 150 to 200 animals a year are found and not claimed by owners or simply abandoned, Johnson said.
“If I can’t find rescues to take them, or humane societies to take them, then they’re euthanized,” she said.
That ends up being about 35 to 40 dogs and cats per year, with cats generally faring worse than dogs.
During the winter, calls become more urgent, because animals that could be left out comfortably in October could easily freeze to death in early February.
Cats abandoned in the winter fare worse than dogs, too, Johnson said, because dogs are usually more sociable and will allow themselves to be caught more easily.
“A lot of times, I will find a cat that is near frozen … their temperature doesn’t register, and they’re just kind of laying there, and then you think they’re frozen — until you see them take a breath,” Johnson said.
When owners for a found pet can be located, the animals are returned home. If necessary, owners are given some education about pet care.
If owners aren’t found, Johnson tries to place animals with rescue groups throughout the region.
People are less likely to adopt an animal that has lost a limb or an ear to frostbite, too.
Anyone who wants to get rid of a pet should take responsibility for it themselves, Johnson said, advising people to ensure pets are healthy and up-to-date on vaccinations and needed health care, and then advertise the pet is available.
“And if the end result is euthanasia, they should make sure that … they’re responsible enough to do it, and not just turn (the pet) out where something like this would happen,” Johnson said, referring to the apparently-abandoned dog.
If none of those options are possible, however, owners still should not abandon their pets, Johnson said.
In that case, it’s best to call a rescue group, like Prairie Paws, or the local Humane Society.
After the beagle undergoes her veterinary checkup, she’ll be posted on websites and Facebook as being adoptable. The application process will include a home visit and ensuring the pet and prospective owner are a good match.
It will cost about $100 to $150, depending on the veterinary care needed.
Anyone interested in adopting the beagle should email Prairie Paws at prairiepawsrescue@hot mail.com, or call Johnson at 952-2206.
“She needed somebody, and what better thing did I have to do than go traipsing around in a blizzard?” Johnson said.
Prairie Paws has many other dogs and cats that need homes this winter, such as Mr. Binks, an orange tabby kitten, and Lilly, a young shepherd/border collie.
“We are so short on foster homes right now, it’s terrible,” said Kaye John, co-founder of Prairie Paws.
To contact Prairie Paws, call 320-4553, or write to P.O. Box 1114, Jamestown, ND 58402-1114.
The James River Humane Society can be reached at 252-0747.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453
or by email at