WEDNESDAY, FEB. 25, 2015 – An abandoned dog left near a dilapidated building in Coachella will be leaving the Coachella Valley Animal Campus today.
The dog appeared to be unable to walk because of serious injuries that could have been purposely caused – or were injuries that were never treated with proper veterinary care.
A passerby in Coachella discovered the dog on Friday morning, Feb. 20, near a box that was seemingly placed there on purpose, possibly by the dog's original owner.
Fortunately for the dog, Alejandro Felix, who was driving home from work early Friday morning, discovered the poor pup near the intersection of Avenue 53 and Tyler Street.
"I saw the reflection of his eyes from my headlights," Mr. Felix said. The pup was next to an old market that has long been out of business. Mr. Felix said he knew the shelter was closed at that hour, so he drove back to the pup with some food, water and a blanket and then contacted Riverside County Animal Services shortly afterward.
The 6-month-old, white and black pit bull puppy would not have been seen by many others because, as Animal Control Officer Jose Fernandez put it, he was invisible within the trash strewn about the lot.
"This is one of the uglier parts of this job," said Fernandez, who responded with a colleague to the scene. He had driven past the area a couple times but struggled to locate the dog. He contacted Mr. Felix again, who then walked the officers directly toward the dog.
"We would never have spotted him," Officer Fernandez said. "Thank goodness for this kind man. We would never have seen him. He was camouflaged in all the other garbage. From a distance, he would have looked like a discarded towel."
Shelter employees have nicknamed the dog Cooper. Fernandez said Cooper obviously could not walk. "He tried to get up. He was alert. He was responsive. He was wagging his tail. But he could not stand up on his own."
Fernandez considered the dog's situation a priority and rushed the dog back to the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms.
Dr. Sara Strongin of Riverside County Animal Services examined the dog and initially suspected the dog's injuries were not common with having been hit by a car. "The unusual location of the injury occurring on both front legs is suspicious of non-accidental injury," Dr. Strongin wrote. "Puppy will likely need both front limbs amputated and will need a prosthetic device to be able to ambulate."
The doctor prescribed Cooper some pain medications and antibiotics to provide comfort to the dog.
"It is a very devastating case," Dr. Strongin said later. "The dog is a very sweet dog. When you're in the kennel with him, he tries to scooch his way toward you."
Officer Fernandez shared similar descriptions.
"Despite what someone did to this dog, he still wanted to make his way toward me and my colleague," Fernandez said. "Despite what someone had done, he still had hope for humans to be kind toward him."
At about 2 p.m. today (Feb. 25, 2015), a representative from a nonprofit organization will pick up Cooper and start him on his new journey.
Michelle Bergeron and Jennifer Uberti have tirelessly networked the puppy to prospective rescue agencies. Both women are employees of Animal Samaritans but work inside the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in a partnership with the county.
Both are rescue group coordinators who share photos and videos and information about many homeless pets that are impounded in the county's Thousand Palms location as a way to move dogs and cats out the shelter as fast as possible.
One of Animal Samaritans' volunteers in the "Highway Heroes" program will scoop up Cooper and transport him to the Loma Linda Veterinary Hospital. It will bet there that he will receive more care and be prepared for his journey to the land of potatoes.
Cooper leaves on his trek on Friday.
He will ultimately land at Heaths Haven Animal Rescue, an organization located in Idaho that specializes in unique cases. Its motto: "Special Dogs, Special Needs."
The Post Falls, Idaho-based organization's representatives fully understand what is needed for Cooper's future. For more about Heaths Haven Animal Rescue