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Beba

(Available for Adoption) I was contacted by an Animal Control Officer that works for the Seattle Animal Shelter.  She wanted help catching Beba, a young dog that had been wandering around South Beacon Avenue and Chicago Street for a couple of weeks. The month before, I had helped SAS capture two pit bulls that had been wandering the area for a couple of weeks, and were menacing some of the walkers in the area.  For those two dogs, I captured the first one 15 minutes after arriving on the scene, and the second one about 15 minutes later.  They were very calm and sweet with me, and I helped the ACO load them into her truck.  Because Useless Bay Sanctuary is experienced at catching stray dogs, especially the ones other people find hard to catch, SAS asked for our help with Beba.  They had tried to catch her, but had no luck.

The ACO explained that Beba was circling the house where she sort of lived.  The man at the address said he got Beba from eastern Washington, but he wouldn’t say exactly where or how.  His yard was completely full of junk.  The junk filled every square inch of the yard and was stacked high so you couldn’t see the house.  There was a narrow path from the house to the gate.  He said Beba could get out through many holes in the fence and he couldn’t catch her.  He was a person that Animal Control had been called about many times in the past, for unsafe living conditions for dogs.  He had agreed to surrender Beba to SAS if they could catch her.  Beba was a small to medium sized dog.  Many people around the neighborhood had been feeding her and trying to catch her, but she stayed out of reach of everyone.  I said UBS could help, and I told her I would come the next day.

When I arrived on Sunday, March 20th, I saw Beba right away.  She noticed me noticing her, and she ran behind a neighbor’s house.  I got my trap out of the car and started walking toward the owner’s house.  As I was carrying the trap down the sidewalk, a volunteer got my attention and said she was there to help Beba.  I was a little confused because I didn’t know how she even knew about the dog.  She explained that she just happened to be driving by and saw Beba, and told the owner she would help.  I think the owner was confused, too, because when I got to his yard to talk to him, he thought I was with the other volunteer and we had coordinated with each other.  Also, his English wasn’t great.  After the initial confusion, I explained that I was there at the request of Animal Control, and I wanted to set a trap for Beba.  He immediately said a trap wouldn’t work.  I don’t know how he would know.  I explained that I had trapped over a thousand dogs in the humane trap I brought.  It was simple and safe, and I thought it would work if we could give it a try.  It wouldn’t hurt Beba, and if the trap didn’t work, then we could move on to other strategies.

I explained to the owner that he could use his other dog, which Beba liked, to lure her into the yard.  The trap would be set up in the opening of the large driveway gate.  After the owner and his other dog went in, the gate would be closed against the trap, so the trap would appear to be a passageway into the yard.  I had caught many dogs before using this method.  He said he understood.  I went back to the end of the block to stay out of sight as he lured Beba.  He walked his dog around the corner, and soon came back with Beba following.  He led her right to the trap, but instead of going into the yard as I had asked, he stood beside the trap with his other dog.  He and Beba just stood there looking at each other.  I tried to motion for the man to go into the yard, but he seemed to not understand.  Beba actually started to go in the trap, but the owner made a feint towards her, kind of a stutter step, like he was about to lunge at her and stopped himself.  Beba backed up from the trap a step.  I turned to look because someone was honking in the street, and there was some sort of congestion.  I turned back to look at Beba, and the owner had tackled her!  He had her pinned to the ground, with his entire body on her.  She looked panicked and uncomfortable.  He slowly got up off of her, being sure to hold her collar tight, and I helped him ease her into the trap and close the door.  I’m quite certain the trap would have worked if he had given it the slightest chance.  But Beba was safe.  I thanked him.  I refrained from telling him what I thought of his methods of dog care. I loaded the trap, with Beba in it, into the back of the car.  We drove away quickly.

In the car, Beba calmed down considerably.  I opened the end of the trap nearest the front, and she poked her nose out to sniff me and Tino.  Once she sniffed us, she settled down and just relaxed.  She didn’t try to get too close to us, but also didn’t move farther away.  She let me pet her, but didn’t necessarily seem to like or dislike it.  I got her to the shelter and took the trap inside with Beba in it.  Once we opened the trap, Beba didn’t want to come out for the staff.  When they moved away to get a slip lead, I used calming signals to get Beba to come out to me.  She let me pet her and put a leash on her.  She was safe.  After running around the neighborhood for two weeks, she was safe at the shelter.  It was not the way I had planned it at all, but Beba was caught and at the shelter in under an hour.  I was glad she would have a chance to be adopted by a better family.

On Friday, April 8th, Lily sent me a message saying Beba was on the run again.  She had just been adopted, and the new adopter stopped at a park to let her out.  You know, you get a new dog, it’s natural to want to go to the park.  She backed out of her collar, and was on the run.  The new owner chased her for a mile, although fortunately it was in a big circle.  She seemed to be staying close to Dick’s Burgers in Crown hill, running an area of about ten blocks by ten blocks.  She would run down to the cemetery and then back up to Holman road.  She crossed all four lanes of busy Holman Road several times without getting hit.  I was just finishing up a cat search.  The cat was found and we were headed home early.  We went to Crown Hill instead.

Knowing her behavior at the previous home, and based on the sightings we had received so far, I thought she would probably circle in a smaller area, maybe two or three blocks wide.  I eventually saw her at 7 PM.  She sneaked through some yards.  When the residents came out to try to catch her, she went on the back side of their fence, behind a huge laurel hedge.  She seemed to have worked out a network of escape routes to stay away from people.  Kari brought a trap, and we set it where she was last seen.  She passed by a couple of times, and she noticed the trap, but there were too many distractions for her to be calm enough to go in.  I had to go home and take care of my dogs, so we took the trap away for the night and just left some food to keep her in the area.

On Saturday, April 9th, Beba’s new owner got about a dozen signs up in the area, asking people not to chase her and to just call with sightings.  He received many sightings, and she was sticking to the area just east of Dick’s Burgers.  I brought a trap and set it up.  We staked out the area, and several volunteers drove around looking for her.  Faith set up her wildlife camera to watch the trap, too.  The camera would send her an image if Beba came around.  I saw Beba go by the trap and she was interested in the food.  She ate the food near the trap, and then took off when she heard a noise.  I put more fresh food in and near the trap and waited.  Unfortunately, the crows discovered the trap.  Two crows began stealing all the food.  They started on the outside, but soon they were hopping into the trap to take all the food.  The thing about crows is that they will take way more food than they can possibly eat, so you can’t just feed them and hope they will go away.  They keep stealing food and stashing it in the landscape so they can come back and eat it later.  I once baited a trap with half a pound of hotdogs, and a single crow completely cleaned out the trap in five minutes.  I tried chasing the crows away, but they were unimpressed.  I decided to go home and take care of my dogs, and then come back after dark, when the crows wouldn’t be stealing the food.

After sunset, Beba came by the trap several times. She almost went in a couple of times, but then she would hear a noise or see someone in the distance.  About 11 PM, all was quiet.  People had gone to bed and no cars were coming down the quiet street.  I was staked out across the street and a couple of houses down.  Beba came to the trap again, and she was just about to go in, but then she noticed me in the car, and she took off.  I wasn’t moving and didn’t have the lights on.  Maybe my glasses reflected the street light or something.  I decided to go home, so she would be completely alone on the street.  Faith would see on her wildlife camera if Beba went in.  She lived much closer than I did, so she would come to the trap quickly if Beba went in.  At 11:59 PM on April 9th, Faith received the image from the wildlife camera showing that Beba had gone in.  Safe again.  Her new owner came to the trap and loaded her into his truck.  He drove her home to Snohomish, about half an hour away, and carried the trap into his house before letting her out.  I sent him a video about Loss Prevention for Dogs.  He was happy to have Beba safe at home, and he was very thankful for the assistance of UBS.

On Tuesday, April 12th, we got the call that Beba had escaped again!  She had backed out of a harness this time.  She was loose in a rural area near a busy highway.  Although there were plenty of quiet farm fields where Beba could be safe, the sightings of her were usually close to Highway 9, where the speed limit is 50 and people often drive much faster.  I went to the area to try to locate her.  Although we could have used the search dog, Tino, to try to find her, I didn’t for a couple of reasons.  First, I didn’t want to flush her out of a safe hiding place and into traffic on Highway 9.  Second, I was still recovering from some injuries, and I couldn’t work Tino, since he pulls so hard.  Tino helped me by keeping me company as we drove around looking for Beba.  I had a pretty good idea where she would be, based on her past behavior.  We saw her in the vacant lot behind the fried chicken place.  It seemed like the vacant lot was fully fenced off, but she found a hole in the fence and ran out across highway 9.  We left her alone, hoping she would return to the house, as she already had several times.  I set up my wildlife camera to watch the food bowls in the owner’s yard.  Beba showed up at the food bowls five times overnight.

The next day, we got busy constructing the kennel trap.  Judy transported it to the area in her big truck, since it wouldn’t fit in my car.  When assembled, the kennel trap is ten feet long, five feet wide, and six feet tall.  We use it to catch dogs that won’t go into a regular humane trap.  Once a dog knows what a trap is, she usually won’t go in the same one a second time.  The kennel trap has a large door that closes automatically by a spring. It is held open by a magnet. The magnet is controlled by an optical switch, and when a dog breaks the light beam at the far end, the magnet turns off and the door swings shut. The kennel is very roomy, and most dogs are comfortable going in. Because it closes automatically, no one needs to be around, and the dog won’t be spooked. I set my wildlife camera on the back wall of the trap so we would know when Beba went in.

Tino and I sat in the car about a hundred feet from the trap. Right around sunset, Beba came to the trap. She ate the food leading to the door, and she poked her head in, but she didn’t step across the threshold. She sniffed around the area, perhaps making sure no one was around before going in for the food. Beba wandered close to our car, although she seemed not to know we were there. Tino has a habit of talking about the dogs he sees. He will grumble and mumble, having opinions about the dogs. I held one hand on his snout and covered his eyes with my other hand to try to prevent him from grumbling and alerting Beba to our presence. He just gave a couple of soft huffs in objection, but Beba didn’t hear him. She went back to the trap and checked it out, and then she laid down on the lawn to rest a while. By 10 PM, it was too dark for us to see anything at all, so I decided to go home. Going home had worked before, to get Beba in the trap. Maybe it would work this time.

About halfway home, I received a picture on my phone showing that Beba had gone in!  She was trapped and safe for the third time. I pulled over and instructed the owner on how to take a crate into the kennel trap, and load her into the crate to take her into the house.  He texted me to let me know that she was safe in the house.  I was very relieved to have caught her a third time.

The next morning he texted me to let me know that his family has decided to take her back to the shelter. They felt that she was not the right dog for their situation, and they were going to get a refund.  This seemed reasonable to me, and I was relieved she would be going back to a secure facility. I contacted the Seattle Animal Shelter to ask if we could take her into our nonprofit rescue in order to keep her safe, and to match her with an adopter that would follow our guidelines for loss prevention. They said they would be happy to have us take her on, as they were very worried about her escaping again.  When Kari and I went to the shelter to pick her up that afternoon, they brought her out to the lobby and she was trembling in fear. When she saw me, she recognized me and soon relaxed considerably. Kari and I used calming signals to help her feel at ease, and we sat on the floor with her as we put on a Martingale collar, a GPS tracking unit, and a harness that extended to the end of her rib cage so she couldn’t squirm out of it. When we signed the paperwork and went to walk her out with two leashes on, she wouldn’t budge. She just stood there at the open door, perhaps anxious about what sort of scary situation she might land in next. I picked her up and carried her to Kari’s truck.

At Kari’s house, her new foster home, she relaxed considerably. She wanted to be close to Kari and me, and liked Kari’s dog. She slept in a warm bed that night, safe and comfortable.

Many volunteers helped catch Beba on her several adventures, including Dina Graham, Faith Ellen Eastwood, Judy Cecil, Julie Radmilla, Kari Fiore, Kellie Ann Mccreary, Lily Burns, Terri Gately, Tracie Johnston, and Vanessa Villon. Thank you. We also want to thank UBS donors that helped us buy the traps, cameras, signs, collar, harness, and GPS to keep Beba safe.