The first time Donna Lochmann searched a dilapidated and abandoned apartment building in St. Louis, Missouri, she didn’t find the person she was looking for. A Good Samaritan called Stray Rescue of St. Louis (SRSL) to report he had seen a dog, but Donna Lochmann, the shelter’s rescue manager, came back empty-handed.
“We searched every floor and saw nothing,” Lochmann said. “There wasn’t a single dog, nothing.”
With the temperatures dropping and new calls coming in about a dog barking from inside the building, Lochmann decided to go back and keep looking. This time she found someone.
“When I got to the back of the building, I saw a dog lying on the grass,” Lochmann said. “I saw her running towards the back of the building and she came in, so I followed her.”
Unfortunately, by the time Lochmann got inside the building, the dog had already disappeared into one of the many empty apartments. She couldn’t find the pup on her own, so Lochmann returned to the shelter and enlisted the help of other staff members.
The next day, she and her team returned to the building and as they went from room to room looking for the frightened puppy, they suddenly heard barking coming from inside.
“I drove to the spot and saw a poor dog lying in the rubble of the building,” Ms Lochmann said. “She was absolutely shaking, her legs were shaking so hard.”
It was cold that day, but Mrs. Lochmann knew that the dog’s shaking was due to fear more than lack of heat.
“I felt so bad for her,” Lochmann said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen one shaking this hard, and it’s just heartbreaking to see them being so scared of you.”
To get the dog out of the building, Lochmann decided to use a plastic crate instead of trying to get him out on a leash. Not only would it have been physically difficult to get the pup out of the ruined building on a leash, Mr Lochmann feared it would stress him even more.
So she used the leash she had to guide the dog into the plastic crate, then quickly closed the door behind her.
“Once she was in the crate, she was calm,” Ms Lochmann said.
You can watch the rescue video here:
Ms. Lochmann and her team carried the crate out of the building, then loaded it carefully into her Jeep. They took her back to the shelter, where she underwent a medical evaluation.
The dog, whom Ms Lochmann named Habenero, was physically healthy but was still a little nervous when she arrived at the shelter.
“She was still pretty scared at first,” Lochmann said. “But she quickly got used to the idea. After a few days, she no longer grunted or shivered when we talked to her.”
Habanero has since spent time with Lochmann and his team at the shelter, slowly getting used to his surroundings. Together they take walks in the neighborhoods surrounding the shelter and enjoy lots of hugs throughout the day.
Now that Habanero feels more comfortable, Ms. Lochmann thinks she’s finally ready to go into foster care. It will be a new change for the 7-year-old pup, but Ms Lochmann is confident he will thrive.
“Once she’s in a home, she’ll have to adjust a bit,” says Lochmann. “But she will do just fine. I’m just glad she’s not shaking anymore.”