Long time New Orleans animal rescuer Kim Baxter has trapped and spayed and neutered more than 1,000 feral cats. Word gets around fast in this line of work, so it’s no surprise that she was among a group of volunteers who received a distress call just two days before Halloween about a starving mother German Sheppard and two puppies.
Kim had hoped that one of the formal rescue groups in the area would step in, but a few days later, a second email indicated that there were actually five puppies in all and no one had yet offered to help. Although Kim was traveling, she decided that this mission would be her first order of business on her return. All the local rescue groups were bursting at the seams and without rescue soon, the pups might grow up without human touch and have little chance at adoption.
“When I got back to town, the neighbor (who was putting out daily meals for the dogs) called me to say she hadn’t seen the mother dog in two days and that there were now six puppies,” Kim explains. “I got worried that the Mom had moved on since the puppies were at weaning age and they knew where to find food.”
Thankfully, however, the mother dog did return and within 48 hours Kim was able to begin the operational stage of her plan to capture the whole family.
“I set up the trap and four puppies came out of the woods to eat,” Kim explains. “Three went into the trap, but a little white one ran back to the woods.”
For the next several days, Kim tried to trap the mother and three remaining pups. Her original plan was to catch all the youngsters first for fear that they could starve to death if she took their mother away, but by Thanksgiving Day, Kim decided that it was time to go forward full-barrel and to scour the woods for the puppies herself.
That morning she trapped the mother dog in the early morning light and swallowed hard as she realized the urgency with which she would have to catch the puppies.
“I would have to go hunting for puppies in the woods,” Kim explains recalling the worry that gripped her in those early hours. “I left Momma in a cage next to the trap as bait and set the trap and hoped the puppies would come looking for food or Momma. When I went around behind the woman’s house to begin the search, I realized how vast the wooded area was. I looked and looked for the puppies and could find no evidence of them or their nest.”
Kim went back to the home owner feeling despondent and reported her concern when another neighbor offered up information that he had seen the dogs coming from the south side. So Kim began to search there and found her first positive sign.
“I found dog poop!” Kim said as if she’d struck gold. “Then, I walked a little farther and more poop! Just then, I looked up ahead of me, and there across the meadow was the white puppy standing in the sun looking right at me.”
And that began a long day’s rescue with well-baited traps and prayers and a quick Thanksgiving dinner in between. But after hours of trying unsuccessfully to trap the puppies, Kim realized she’d have to do it by hand. She called in reinforcements, her boyfriend and his son, and they began a wild game of hide and seek that involved using hand signals, blocking off paths and athletic attempts to catch the dogs at top speed. But early in the game, they came upon an incredible find as three puppies came charging forward and a fourth (who had never been seen before) was spotted crouched over and unable to run alongside her siblings.
“No wonder the mother was carrying food back to the nest,” Kim said realizing that this seventh puppy was badly injured, although still somewhat mobile.
After the team caught one puppy by net, they were able to coral the puppies to some degree and the injured one slid down into a shallow creek which was too steep for her to climb out of.
“I picked her up and held her close, but gently, trying not to move her as much as possible,” Kim said explaining that at first they worried that the puppy had a broken back. Fortunately, although veterinary tests revealed some damage to the spine, the spinal cord was intact and a full recovery is expected for this puppy now named Lily.
Within 24 hours, Kim and her boyfriend had cornered every last pup and brought them all safely into foster care through Northern Louisiana German Shepherd Rescue. They indeed had so much to be grateful for over that Thanksgiving holiday weekend and, actually, throughout the year.
Kim thanks her “village” of caring animal lovers for contributing to the veterinary costs associated with this rescue. In fact, Facebook friends also help in the ongoing costs to maintain 45 feeding stations that provide food for cats left behind after Hurricane Isaac in a 16 mile stretch of abandoned houses.
“The homes were all destroyed by 14 feet of water in that area, but there are dozens of cats, and maybe some dogs, that are still out there and don’t have the usual food sources to keep them alive,” Kim explains. “With no people living in the area, there is no human food garbage and most of the mice, rates, squirrels, rabbits and bugs were killed during the flood leaving no natural food sources.”
Kim sees no end to her rescue work here in Lousiana where she specializes in helping animals who live in the shadows of society. You can see more of the rescue of the mother dog and puppies on her Facebook page. At the time this story goes to press, the mother dog named Adele is waiting for an adoptive family. She is good with small dogs, cats and is housebroken.
Brought to you by The Great Animal Rescue Chase