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Red Lion Dogs.
Catching two dogs in the middle of the night by a busy highway.
Red Lion Dogs
I didn’t see the post on Facebook until 45 minutes after they had been reported. I asked the original poster if she still saw the dogs, and she said yes. She works at the hotel, the Red Lion, and she could see them on the cameras. At 12:30 AM, I went out there right away, with a 48 inch trap. When I arrived at the hotel across the street from SeaTac airport, I recognized that it was the location where I had picked up a deceased German Shepherd a few months before. She had been hit by a car on the busy six-lane highway. She was a sweet, pretty, young dog with a pink collar. She looked like she could have had a wonderful life as someone’s best friend. Arriving at that hotel on a rainy night, I hoped I was in time to save these dogs from being hit by cars.
A security guard was walking through the lot. I asked him if he had seen two dogs. He said yes, and he warned me that they were dangerous (in his view). He was the security guard for the parking lot next door to the hotel. He said he went to investigate the dogs, and they were hanging around a gap in the back fence that had been cut recently. When he approached the dogs, they “attacked” him, and he sprayed them with pepper spray. His theory, because of the new hole in the fence, was that someone was trying to steal from cars in the lot, and they had brought their two dogs to attack anyone who tried to stop them. He said, “The burglar will say, ‘Attack!’ and the dogs will attack you, so be careful.” I didn’t think his theory was very credible. Of course, a dog could bite me repeatedly, and I would apologize to him for putting him in a bad situation. (This has happened a few times.) People have different perspectives about dogs. Fortunately, the woman who works at the hotel came out and pointed out where the dogs were.
I drove over to them, on the far side of the hotel away from the busy highway. I tossed them pieces of hotdog, which caught their attention. When I stopped the car and started to get out, the golden one did bark and lunge at me. I didn’t think he was serious about it, certainly not an attack dog, but I stayed in my car just to keep things calm. I wanted them to relax and stick around, and not run out onto the highway. They looked like brothers, to me, possibly shepherd/husky mixes, one mostly golden and one mostly black. They obviously belonged together. They seemed to weigh about 80 pounds. I drove a little deeper into the lot, luring them with food. As I was getting ready to set up the trap, the golden boy started having a seizure, apparently. He seemed to be blind suddenly, and losing his balance. The black one stayed by him, and didn’t seem too alarmed. My theory was that the golden dog had a history of seizures, and the black dog was used to them. It’s also possible that the seizure could have been caused by being sprayed with pepper spray. Also, it was raining, and they were licking at puddles of water in the parking lot, and it’s possible he got a taste of antifreeze. After a minute or two, he recovered, and he seemed fairly normal.
I set the trap, and they circled it a few times. When the golden dog went in, he didn’t even seem to notice that the door had closed behind him. He was too focused on the Vienna sausage. Both dogs liked the Vienna sausage better than the hotdogs. Finally, after he finished eating all of the sausages, he tried to back up out of the box and realized he was trapped. He didn’t panic, but he did whine for his brother. The brother stayed near the trap. I thought the black dog seemed less agressive than the golden dog, so I tried getting out of the car. I was going to load the trap into the car and hope the black dog would just jump in to be with his brother. The black dog was still barking and lunging at me, so I got back in the car. Again, I wasn’t too worried for my safety, but I didn’t want to make the dogs uncomfortable. My main goal was to keep the black dog from running away.
I didn’t want to do it, since it was 1:30 in the morning and I knew she would be asleep, but I texted Kari to see if she could bring a second trap. She replied right away that she would, thankfully. I don’t know what I would have done if she hadn’t brought the second trap. As I was waiting for the second trap, two police cars rolled up. I imagine the security guard had reported two dangerous dogs. They saw I had one trapped, and I told them I had a volunteer bringing a second trap. I told them I worked for a nonprofit that specializes in helping stray dogs, and I would be taking them to the shelter. I gave them my business card. I also asked them not to get out of their cars because the black dog might lunge. They were happy to leave the dogs to me, and they left after a few minutes. I’m very glad I was able to respond and help the dogs right away instead of having the police try to solve the problem. I don’t think it would have gone well if the police had tried to corral them, thinking they were dangerous dogs. The best case scenario would have been that the dogs got chased away. The worst case would have been the dogs getting shot. These dogs needed the right equipment and experience, and patience.
When Kari brought the second trap, I set it up beside the first one. The black dog circled several times and then went in for the Vienna sausage. He stepped over the trigger plate, carefully, and got all the food without triggering the door to fall. I got out and put new bait in the trap, and adjusted the setting so it would close with less pressure on the plate. Still, the black dog made several trips in and out of the trap without dropping the door. Finally, he bumped the door with his head as he was coming out, which caused the door to fall. Fortunately, he backed up into the trap instead of bolting out of it. Both dogs were finally caught and safe. The trap Kari brought had been donated to UBS, and was not our preferred brand, Tru Catch. It worked, though, and it saved this dog’s life.
I called around to at least six emergency vets to try to get the dogs in. I told them that the golden one had had a seizure, it appeared. All of the ER’s were full. We decided to take them to the shelter, to the kennel at the back of the building, where we had taken stray dogs in the past when they were recovered too late in the day. When we got to the shelter, at 3:30 AM, the back gate was closed. I called the number by the gate, and explained that we had caught two stray dogs in SeaTac, and that we had left strays in the kennel in the past. The person on the phone, who I assume was watching us on the cameras, opened the gate and let us in. He probably saw that my jacket said LOST PET RESCUE on the back.
We got the black dog into the kennel first. Once he was in, he calmed down enough for Kari to read the information on his collar. I texted the number. They eventually replied that these were their dogs. I told them that the dogs were safe at the shelter and they could pick them up in the morning. There seemed to be a language problem, and I’m not entirely sure we understood each other. At any rate, the dogs were safe, and the owner had been notified. The owner was able to go pick them up from the shelter today.
You can watch a video of some moments of the capture.
If you see a stray dog or two, the actions you take or don’t take could save the dogs’ lives. In the Seattle area, you can report stray dogs any time, to the Facebook group Lost Dogs of King County, and it’s likely that Lily Burns or another moderator will respond with advice at most hours of the day. Lily is also a volunteer with Useless Bay Sactuary, a nonprofit that specializes in helping stray dogs, and she will try to get volunteers out if needed. Of course, you can always call animal control. In many cases, they will be able to respond and take care of a dog in need. They can’t always handle all the calls, and they generally don’t respond to catch two scared dogs at 3 AM before they can wander out onto a busy highway. Volunteers for LDKC and UBS try to help all the dogs in need, if we are available. You can help out by volunteering with UBS or donating to pay for vet bills and equipment such as traps. If you see a stray dog and you can’t reach Animal Control, LDKC, or UBS, you can also refer to these guides: