WagAware always knew we would help fund rescues, but we never thought we’d participate in the actual rescue ourselves!
Last night, my friend Carl and I decided to head to Yogurt Stop on Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles. As we were parking the car, a man in a motorized wheelchair crossed our path with (to my utter bewilderment) a Tupperware bin on his lap, with the lid on it and 4 sweet, clearly struggling puppies inside. Ok, I may be small, 5’4” on a good day, but I become bionic when a puppy is in danger (apparently), so you guessed it, he bumped into the wrong animal lover that night.
I immediately went up to him and asked him what he was doing putting puppies (just weeks old from their appearance) in a plastic bin on a hot night in LA, with no ventilation nonetheless. Long story short, he was selling them and did not like me from the get-go. I could not help but display my utter disgust on my face and immediately he decided he wasn’t going to sell them to me no matter what I offered, and I offered. My friend Carl took the “good cop” approach but as long as Carl was associated with me, he would not “deal” with Carl. I did not know what to do but I knew we needed to do something.
What proceeded to unfold was about 3 hours of harrowing antics to do our best to get these puppies away from this man. We followed him up the street, and miraculously, he got out of his chair, and began to walk and push the chair with the puppies in the seat. Carl approached him again, tried to reason with him to let us rescue the puppies but he refused. I hid behind a fence while this was happening and watched as Carl tried. The man kept reaching down his leg, for what we were not sure, a weapon, perhaps? We didn’t have time for fear. We were possessed to make sure the puppies were saved. Negotiations broke down and the man began his zig-zagged march up and down Santa Monica Boulevard and its side streets to try to elude us. We called the police. They came; they saw; they did nothing. Then we decided he wasn’t going far and had picked this area to “sell” his puppies, so we went back to my car and decided to follow him (without him knowing it) in our car. And, with what proved to be our best resource, we called our friends at the Bill Foundation (and a few other rescues), but Annie Hart of the Bill Foundation, put on her superhero overalls and grabbed her amazing husband James and dog Arnold and jumped into action. She was in her car with James and Arnold and on their way. She told us to keep the man in our sites but not get out of the car.
I drove; Carl from my passenger seat tracked the man like a cheetah tracks an impala in the wild. Carl in the front seat, me driving like a lunatic. I’ll admit, I broke several laws, made a number of traffic and moving violations, but I was on a mission, a very important rescue mission. Somehow we managed to follow him for about 30 minutes from my car, even watched him sit at the bus stop and fall asleep with the puppies (in their plastic box) on a ledge behind him. I was so tempted to run out there and grab the box and save the puppies but Carl and I determined it was too dangerous, and perhaps illegal? Annie was on speakerphone and kept assuring me they were almost there, to just keep him in our sight, and she would handle it.
“Don’t handle it! I’ve done this many times. I can handle it!” She said. We listened.
Then suddenly he boards the local bus heading East, puppies, wheelchair and all! Miraculously walking still (yes, I am being sarcastic). “Oh no, Annie! He’s gotten on the bus!” I thought it was all for not. Annie was calm and brilliant. She told me to follow the bus in my car. The bus was traveling so fast. Even though it was making local stops it was going too fast. “Hurry!” I begged Annie. “We are coming Sam, just do what you can to slow the bus down.” So here come more traffic violations. We went in front of the bus, drove impossibly slow, the bus driver kept honking, but we managed to slow him down (truthfully, for the better of all out driving that night) and then Annie and James caught up. Now, I will let Annie tell the rest of the story:
Racing 50 miles per hour down Santa Monica Boulevard, somewhere ahead is a bus that we blindly follow. Five minutes earlier I got a call from Sam (who runs WagAware) that a homeless man had 4 puppies in a Tupperware bin with the lid on it… They weren’t getting nearly enough air to breathe. So, I jumped into my car with my husband (James) and our dog (Arnold).
Red light. Have to stop. Time stretches on as Sam updates me on her location. I tell her to drive in front of the bus and purposefully drive slow, which might allow us time to catch up (do NOT try this!). It works. I hear the horn from the bus in the distance angry with Sam for slowing it down. Half a mile back turns to a quarter mile and then, the glowing taillights and silhouette of a bus emerge in the night. The shadowy vehicle merges into the left lane, probably in an attempt to get away from Sam, the crazy lady driving so slow in front of him. Sam follows suit and merges into the left lane. The bus hits its breaks, pulls over and stops. Because of Sam and her driving? Now, the doors fly open and passengers step off onto the sidewalk at the bus stop…
James hits the gas and slides up behind the bus. I (Annie) hop out and dash for the open door. It closes. Like a lunatic I am jumping up and down calling for the driver to open the doors. Like a completely sane person, he drives away.
The bus pulls back into the lane, I jump back in the car and we take off after it. James calmly driving, myself coordinating with Sam, and Arnold leaning his head against the center console curious as to the source of the chaos. Another bus stop comes up, the bus pulls over, Sam stops in front of it and James on the side to sandwich it in. And again I am out of the car. I run up to the doors and again they close in my face and I am shouting at the driver to please open the door. He looks at me with hesitation when I yell, “A homeless man has puppies on your bus! They are in a plastic container with the lid on and they could run out of air!!” To his credit, the doors open.
I step up and pay the fair. I don’t know who I am looking for, I just know what Sam told me. There was a homeless man with a cart of sorts, and in the cart was a large plastic Tupperware with a lid on it. Inside that Tupperware were four puppies. My phone was in my pocket on speaker, I had called James before stepping on the bus so he could listen in and, if anything went wrong, could be ready to rescue me. I look around to get my bearings, “HEY, don’t bump into me,” a man grumbles at me. “Sorry,” I respond unsure of my surroundings.
Then I see him. A young man with a motorized cart, a Tupperware container – which jostles from small creatures moving inside. He’s thin, in secondhand clothes with brown mopish hair. I say, “Hi,” to him and strike up a conversation. His thick southern accent is friendly and reserved. After a few minutes of small talk, I bring up what I do for a living and suggest we get off the bus to discuss how I can help his puppies. The bus stops and I help him make his way off.
By the time he and I hit the street James has already pulled over a short distance away; and Sam tells me later she and Carl are in the car across the street in a parking lot. I asked him to keep his distance until I needed him. Arnold sits in the passenger seat intently monitoring his Mom’s progress. A giant man and a giant Pitbull/Dane have my back. After no small amount of convincing and the cash in my pocket, he finally agrees to give me three of the puppies, but the last is already promised to someone. I asked him to contact me if he needed anything for the fourth. Now, I had no desire to leave any of them, but I agreed…as a starting point. James hopped out of the car and helped me into the car with them and before anyone can change their mind we drive away.
We pull into the parking lot of a local grocery store and Sam’s car quickly appears beside us. Grabbing the three babies, that Arnold was skeptical about (he likes being the baby), I stepped out of the car. Sam sets up a small area in her back seat for them.
James headed back to find the guy armed with a little more cash (from Sam) and his convincing 6”6’ stature. This is for all the marbles, the last of the puppies. Luckily the young man hadn’t moved far. James pulled up, hopped out and made his case. “You aren’t sure your friend is going to take this puppy, tell you what, you give your friend some of the money I’m paying you – then he can pay the fee to rescue another dog from the shelter. Two dogs get saved.” And to this argument no rebuttal was given, he relents. The puppy (who was FAR too small and not moving much) was handed over and settled in with James holding him, so tiny in the hands of a giant.
This was our action movie rescue. It is sort of ridiculous that it worked out. The young man could have said no, we could have given up, the bus driver could not have stopped, and this list goes on. These are all the “what ifs” that haunt our lives. I can’t say how he got the puppies, I can’t say if he really did have a home for Luke, our littlest angel. I can’t say what would have happened if one aspect of this stranger than fiction rescue didn’t work… that’s all speculation.
What I can say is this rescue happened because Sam made a phone call. Because my husband didn’t hesitate when I asked for his help. Because the bus driver believed a crazy woman in overalls at midnight. It’s because we gave it a try, four puppies now have a good shot at a great life in this world.
And this should serve as an example to all those out there that say the pet overpopulation and shelter system is broken and it can’t be fixed. This problem will never end…so why bother with funding and aid?
If we do nothing; that is all true. If we do nothing. But, if we do everything we can, who can say what possibilities lie hidden in the fabric of fate? There was a time when the world was flat, when space was unreachable and when women were not allowed to vote.
One day perhaps we will include shelter death and pet overpopulation among the things that WERE, and enduring hope among the things that ARE.
Thank you to WagAware for donating to these puppies’ rescue. And thank you in advance to so many Bill Foundation villagers who might donate even a few dollars to help us care for this little family. We need all the help we can get.
Annie (James, Arnold, Sam and Carl)
To help us continue to sponsor such important rescues, please purchase your WagAware charms today (http://www.wagaware.com). Show the world you care about rescue and are doing something about it! Plus, WagAware donates 50% of our profits to rescue!