Whether or not you’ve ever seen an animal rescue, this story about a dedicated rescuer who literally dug into a cave to save a litter of puppies will tug at the heartstrings. Hope for Paws, an LA animal rescue organization, faced one of the most challenging rescues and no way are you prepared this heroic tale.
A Cry For Help
One passerby faintly heard high-pitched cries but ignored it, thinking maybe it was just the wind of his/her mind playing tricks. However a couple days later, he/she heard the noise once again but this time, the cries were much louder. Filled with panic, the passerby began to track the noise, afraid that someone was seriously in trouble.
Like An Animal?
As the stranger walked closer to the noises, he began to understand that the cries didn’t sound human. In fact, he began to think that it sounded like a puppy cry. Just between a major highway and a rail yard, far from humans, the cried seemed to come from an underground source. This concerned stranger knew that the puppies desperately needed help and quickly.
Once the stranger spoke to a few residents, he or she learned that animal rescue teams had attempted many times to catch a homeless dog that roamed the area. But no one was ever successful. Apparently this wild dog had given birth to puppies, but no one had seen the litter in days. Worry began to creep in.
Something Has To Be Done
With no idea how many days had passed or where the mom would even come back to her puppies – the stranger knew something had to be done. No way this litter of puppies could survive on their own.
Just in the United States along, there are about 4 million stray dogs and some 3.4 million stray cats. What’s worse is the fact that homeless animals actually outnumber homeless people by 5 to 1. On top of that, only 1 out of every 10 dogs will even find a permanent home. Which then means that every year, about 2.7 million dogs and cats are killed because shelters are just too full and there simply aren’t enough adoptive homes.
When the Hope for Paws animal rescue team was alerted to the situation, they knew they had to help. With no understanding of where the litter’s mother was, how many puppies there even were, and no idea as to their exact location – the team knew the situation was dire. And the clock was ticking.
Reality Of It All
Additionally it was impossible to know exactly when the putties ate last, or even what their general health status was. Moreover, it was impossible to know just what happened to the mother, would she even return? One thing was sure, the clock was running down – the litter were likely malnourished and in serious danger.
Hope for Paws
An anonymous person called the Hope for Paws animal rescue team, urging them to help. However the team weren’t at headquarters at the time, instead they were at a funeral. Lisa, an animal rescuer who ran the organization Hope for Paws, had recently passed away. Her selflessness and love for her organization and all it stood her was her life’s mission.
Just Who Are They?
If you go on the Hope for Paws page, and you read their “About Us” section, it says, “We created Hope for Paws to help animals who suffer and die every year because of negligence and abuse.” And well, that, that sounds pretty darn important.
The Road Ahead
Most tragically, Lisa had been diagnosed with cancer. Her entire life was dedicated to the animals that her organization rescued, but the time came for Lisa to allow others to help her. In her name, a crowdfunding page was set up to help with the medical expenses. Eventually, Lisa Ashe’s battle with cancer came to end and she passed away in March 2017. Lisa’s death left a gaping hole in her team’s, friends, and families hearts but also in the hearts of the Hope for Paws organization. Her team knew her and they knew that she would have wanted them to help those poor puppies first.
Must Go On
Lisa’s death left a gaping hole in her team’s, friends, and families hearts but also in the hearts of the Hope for Paws organization. Her team knew her and they knew that she would have wanted them to help those poor puppies first.
Without a second thought, the team sprang into action. Despite the fact that they were at Lisa’s funeral – everyone knew that Lisa would have wanted them to rescue the litter, no matter the circumstances. Lisa’s mission would live on through her team members and the animals they continued to save.
Everyone piled into the car and set out to the approximate location of the pups. Now we have to mention that the team had no idea exactly where the pups were located or how many there even were – this seemed to be one of their most dangerous rescues yet.
Search Kicks Off
So the puppies’ mother was nowhere to be found but the pups were located in an underground cave network. The rescue team had no idea how many puppies there were nor could they tell just how deep the cave network went. Moreover the puppies were scared by the sight of the rescue team as they had never encountered humans before. Still the puppies slowly made their way to cave’s entrance.
Now the team assumed that the puppies had probably never come in contact with humans before, so they were extra cautious. They were sure that the puppies would be distraught by their presence. So they slowly made their way, but they knew time was of the essence.
As expected, the puppies were exceptionally cautious of the strangers and especially the new smell. The team used a cheeseburger to coax the puppies to the surface. And come they did, five puppies to be exact, came near to the entrance. That’s when, Lisa Arturo was the first to scoop up one of puppies – they were close, or so it seemed.
This pup was shaking and he was unsure whether he was in danger or not, as the sensation of human touch was very new to him. Now the team carried on feeding and petting him as Lisa held him close – this was a way for the team to show the litter that they shouldn’t be afraid. Until the unthinkable materialized.
Unfortunately one of pups gave a high-pitched scream which frightened the rest of the litter. Therefore they all ran deeper into the save! All of the efforts by the team now appeared lost. “They got scared. Let’s just wait, let them come out,” a rescues said fearfully. With little options on the table, all they could do was hope and wait. But Eldad had another idea.
Change of Plans
You know the saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Well the puppies were not about to be fooled twice by the cheeseburger trick. Therefore Eldad, the team leader, who was no stranger to problematic animal rescues had a backup plan. And not an easy backup plan either.
That’s right, it was a Holes situation. He began digging out the entrance so that he had enough room himself! Without a second though, he headed into the cave in search for the puppies. Not only was this dangerous for the puppies but Eldad as well.
As the tunnels were cramped, small, and narrow, there seemed to be only one escape route – one that meant Eldad would be pulled out by his feet. In case of a tunnel collapse, Eldad and the pups were at risk of suffocating. A cave-in rescue would be dangerous and slow so Eldad and his team had to be careful. Very careful.
Just Getting There
One of the tools he had at his disposal was a special kind of pole. One that would come in handy in this rescue. He used a pole with a rope-catch and “fished the puppies out”. This way, three puppies were saved. But the rescue was long from over.
At this point, the rescuers knew there were more puppies remaining and Eldad desperately wanted to get back in there to continue his search. However the remaining puppies were especially terrified so they fled even further in, well out of reach. Eldad, however, refused to give up hope.
With no other options left, the team dug where they believed a link could be created to reach the remaining pups. 18 feet later (a shovel and a bowl were used to dig!) and the team located the puppies. They dug as hard and as fast as possible, carefully though to ensure Eldad and the puppies safety.
Fight of Their Life
Due to Eldad’s size, this new hole meant that he needed to relay on his team members. As they had to pull him out by his feet, Eldad knew he had to do whatever was necessary to reach the puppies. Even if they were biting at his hands, he didn’t care. With five puppies in total now, no one knew how many puppies remained.
Nearing The End
As Eldad carried on, he was saving puppy by puppy. Now the rescuers had six puppies total but they wanted to be certain no one was left behind. And no one wanted to leave a puppy behind, not even one.
Eldad went back to the tunnel once more, certain he could hear additional faint sounds further in. Just a bit further on and Eldad located two more pups! The total now rose to eight.
Runt of the Litter
Eldad dove into the tunnel once more with the hopes of locating any remaining puppies. “I swear I can hear one more. I hear something I think. Lisa, there is another one!” He dove back in, further into the cave.
By some stroke of luck, he located a shivering, tiny puppy! Eldad scooped him up and crawled to the exit. As he headed to the exit, he whispered to the pup, “Come on baby. Time to go home.”
Final count? Nine rescued puppies! With the runt of the litter reunited with his siblings, one final check proved that no more puppies were hiding anywhere. Now the real work kicked off, maybe not as dangerous but surely as tough.
However the rescue mission still had one objective to complete – to find the puppies’ birth mother. While many people have been trying to capture her, none proved successful. So it was up to rescuers to care for the puppies and ensure their safety and health.
Finally, an end to the heart wrenching saga! In a metal crate lined with a warm blanket, the puppies were eventually lifted into the rescue vehicle and taken to their new destination. Upon arrival, the puppies were washed, fed, and all of their medical needs were quickly tended to.
In no time at all, it seemed, the once terrified pups were overcoming their fears and tackling the world with buckets of joy. The puppies engaged more with humans, had an appetite, and were playing! It was truly a sight to behold.
As the puppies were still quite young, they were introduced to Olive, their surrogate mother. [Cue the “AWW’s now!] Olive would care for the puppies until they grew old enough to be adopted. This would allow the puppies to re-acclimate themselves and find happiness in their new fur-ever homes!
Now this tidbit is seriously heartwarming! In memory of Lisa M. Ashe, the rescuers used a letter from her name to name each puppy: Luke, Isaac, Sarah, Abraham, Mary, Angel, Solomon, Heaven, and Ezekiel. The rescuers knew that Lisa was surely smiling down on them as her legacy could now live on through the nine rescued puppies.
Luke, The Runt
Underweight and quiet little Luke was the runt of the litter – until Hope for Paws stepped in of course. Little by little Luke built up his strength and appetite and all thanks to the patience and determination of Hope for Paws.
Without their attention Luke was faced with many disadvantages, such as food rivalry and possible rejection from their mama pup. In the wild, a runt is more likely to not survive infancy.
Thanks to Eldad and Hope for Paws, these once homeless, hungry puppies have a second chance at life. And a healthy, happy one at that! A few remaining puppies are still searching for their fur-ever homes so if you’d like to learn more about how and the Hope for Paws journey to find them homes, read on!
Social Media Frenzy
In today’s social media crazed society, it’s no surprise that such overwhelming support has rushed in from people all over the globe. Thousands of people turned to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and so on, to tell how deeply they were affected by the mission.
In fact, one YouTuber said that she was so deeply touched and inspired that she has applied for veterinarian school! Now that’s incredible. Actually it’s more than incredible, it’s downright heartwarming and inspiring.
Support Floods In
As soon as Hope for Paws posted about their mission on Facebook, it’s been shared 4,000 times and has earned some 10,000 likes. As a result, one Facebooker wrote, “I just won a contest at my office.. My choice of a Charity to give part of our profits for the Month of March!! Guess who I chose 🙂 You do good work!”
Many others extended their sympathy and admiration to Eldad! I mean the man did squeeze through the tunnels in order to rescue those adorable puppies. One such admirer said: “Your commitment and dedication to these animals is beyond beyond!! I almost had a claustrophobic panic attack just watching. Thank you for rescuing those little bundles of adorable.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.