The Rescue of Bonnie & Clyde and their Roundup Gang!
We went out to assess the situation, to see exactly what we might be dealing with as far as behavior and traumas, and to do a welfare check on the puppies. It became glaringly obvious that the ONLY way we were getting Bonnie and Clyde was to trap them, and our standard traps were NOT going to work on these smart/feral cookies! To add insult to injury, a major spring storm was coming and those babies were at risk of freezing to death at only a few days old. It would take a lot of specialized consideration, knowledge, ingenuity, and faith if we were to save this entire family. Sure… we could have just taken the puppies and left Bonnie and Clyde out there to wonder where their kids went… to continue to suffer, to run, to be in danger of being shot, to be constantly afraid. But that’s just not how we work folks. So, plans had to be made, a new trap had to be built, and lives needed to be saved. FAST!
Our first priority was to get the pups safely sheltered enough to weather the storm that was set to hit THAT NIGHT! A Dogloo house was brought out, along with a lot of straw and a very large industrial piglet heater. We ran an extension cord from the office out to the semi and plugged in the heater. We set the heating pad inside the dog house and filled the house with straw, then placed the six tiny, fragile newborns inside for their parents to find. We were hopeful and confident that our super smart mama Bonnie would leave the pups in the house, because it was much warmer and safer than on the ground. We then tarped the entire area to keep the snow OUT of the house. We set up motion activated game cameras in the area so that we could watch when mom and dad returned. This is an invaluable tool, as it lets us know that the pups are being fed regularly and they are still alive and safe where we left them.
We get busy planning and building
Immediately, Aaron DeLyser (our resident engineer) and I got busy planning and building what is called a “Missy Trap.” This isn’t your standard dog trap. NO SIR! A standard trap was NOT going to work on these dogs. We needed the mother of all traps if we were to save this entire family. This is a monstrous trap with some pretty high-tech genious thrown in. It took us one full day, and the trap was built and ready to deploy. You can see a video of the trap and how it works below:
Setting The Trap
We loaded up the Missy Trap that night, and Aaron, Lynette and I set out for a very long night of watching and waiting to see if our plan would work. The plan was to set up the Missy Trap next to the Semi, and to move the dog house into the trap, essentially using the puppies as bait. We would then sit in the cab of the semi truck, ready to pull cords and run interference if Bonnie decided to launch herself off of the dog house to escape.
The plan worked! After what seemed like HOURS of waiting, Bonnie and Clyde returned to their babies. One problem though… Clyde wasn’t coming anywhere near those babies. Bonnie wouldn’t let him. Bonnie went into the trap to nurse her young and we waited as long as we could for Clyde to join her but he never did. Bonnie was getting ready to leave again. It was now or never. We had to pull the cord. We had to take what we could get, and right now – that meant capturing mom and her babies. We would have to come back for Clyde… This was a heartbreaking, gut-wrenching decision. He was so so scared. Catching him would be tricky.
Our hearts were broken that we had to leave Clyde behind. Bonnie is his lobster and we all knew he would die of a broken heart without her. We re-set the trap to automated mode, and left fresh meat and the blanket Bonnie and her babies had been laying on inside the trap to lure Clyde. The game cameras were watching for us, and would send our team a text message if Clyde went in. But for now, we HAD to get those babies safe. We had to get Bonnie safe! We managed to get Bonnie loaded into a crate in the car with her babies and drove her across town to a warm, dry, safe place at Krissy’s house. Her babies were placed with her immediately, and Krissy stayed up all night working with Bonnie to gain her trust.
Early that morning we got a notification that the trap had been triggered to shut. Aaron and Krissy raced across town, but low and behold, our dear Clyde was not in the trap. We re-set it, and set off for home, back to Bonnie.
Roughly 36 hours after we trapped Bonnie and her babies, alarms went off on the cell phones of everyone involved letting us know that Clyde was in the trap, but of course it was on a weekend when no one was in the office! Jennifer and Larry from Asphalt Specialties went racing to the office from one direction, and Aaron, Krissy and Lynette went racing from another far away part of town. Each of us I’m sure doing 100mph as we watched Clyde via live video feed, desperately trying to dig his way out of the trap. We were in a race against time to get there before he dug out. And if he dug out, he would NEVER go into that trap again. When we arrived, he completely shut down and hit the floor. We were able to enter the trap, and because he was so shut-down, we were able to get a harness, leash, and two slip leads onto him. We COULD NOT chance him getting away from us! I spoke gently to him the whole way home, that I was taking him to Bonnie, they WOULD be together again. I’m quite sure he never heard a word I said, I have never in my life seen a dog so completely shut down in fear… But he was alive. We had him. He was safe. In that moment, that is all that mattered.
Video Diary of Clyde's Progress
I wasn’t originally going to post this video. This is a video I took of Clyde a couple days after he first arrived. It shows a dog so paralyzed with fear that I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to reach him. We know they’ve been running in the area we caught them for at least a year.. who knows how long they’ve really been out on their own. Bonnie even had a bullet inside of her, so we KNOW they went through hell. We had no way of knowing if they were truly feral, abused, neglected, or what could have made them so terrified of people. The first time I saw this dog, he took one look at me and bolted. He was sighted 5 miles away within an hour. He was so terrified, that nobody could even look at him without him bolting.
Everyday I am more and more amazed at how far this seemingly feral dog has come. He’s been with me for 5 days now, from a dog so Frozen in fear that the entire Kennel shook with him, to now standing and walking to me to get a treat and even looking me in my eye. He’s pretty darn incredible and I am lucky to know him
13 Days after capture… just gonna leave this right here…
It took 2-3 weeks. Weeks of LONG, HARD, TRUST WORK. I basically moved into my garage where this little family lived. I worked there, slept there and spent all of my time with them. I built their trust. They were not unreachable, they just needed to know that I wasn’t going to hurt them. It worked.
Goodbyes are so hard. Especially hard when you’ve worked so hard to build an animal up from the depths of hell they came from.
Happily Ever After...
After spending weeks with me learning to open up and let go of the trauma of their past, we were able to find the most perfect forever home for both Bonnie AND Clyde – TOGETHER! I promised he would always have his lobster, and he does. Of course the 6 angel babies were easy to find homes for, and they are living their best lives right now. But the magic in this story is Bonnie and Clyde and their amazing recovery and the happily ever after that was so far out of reach for so long. Theirs is an epic love story that didn’t have to end thanks to the amazing family who vowed to love these wild animals for the rest of their lives. I am grateful to Shane and Heather for taking a chance on these perfectly imperfect dogs, who made their house a home. I made a promise to Jennifer and Larry to save THE FAMILY. I made a promise to Bonnie and Clyde to do right by THEM. I keep my promises.
Bonnie and Clyde are my favorite love story. They are the reason I do what I do. Dogs aren’t a lost cause. They CAN be helped if you just give them the time, patience, love and dedication they need to become their best selves.
Remembering Why We Do What We Do
To this day you will find this frame hanging just inside my front door. They ARE my reason. They ARE my epic love story. It is I who am blessed to know them, and I will not forget the lessons they taught me.