When Donna Lochmann got a call about a family of pit bulls who needed help, she knew the rescue mission would be a tricky one. According to the Good Samaritan who spotted them, there were at least three puppies hiding in an overgrown backyard, and their scared mama was determined to protect them.
With years of experience as Stray Rescue of St. Louis’ chief life saving officer, Lochmann knew that she had to approach the rescue strategically. Even though she could see some puppies hiding in plain sight when she got there, she knew she couldn’t rescue them first.
“I thought, ‘Well, I’m just gonna try to get mom first because if she’s barking at me, I don’t know what her reaction is gonna be when I start picking up her puppies,’” Lochmann told The Dodo.
Lochmann could tell that the mama dog was hungry, so she cracked open a can of Vienna sausages and lured the protective pup to her car.
“Once Donutfest was safe, I started working on finding the puppies,” Lochmann said.
The first puppy Lochmann saw was huddled along a fence, all by herself. She didn’t run away when Lochmann approached her, but she figured out how to express her feelings about being picked up.
“She absolutely started screaming,” Lochmann said. “I can’t believe nobody in the neighborhood came out to see what was going on.”
Lochmann reunited the puppy with her mom in the car, then set out to find the others. After a quick scan of the yard, Lochmann spotted two puppies hiding in the weeds and a third curled up on an abandoned couch.
The puppies were familiar with their surroundings, so they did everything they could to avoid Lochmann at first. Two of them ran further into the tall weeds, making it difficult for Lochmann to catch them.
But, instead of chasing them, Lochmann decided to lure them to her just like she did with their mom. The rescuer opened a new can of puppy food, the smell of which led the puppies straight into her arms.
With Donutfest and three of her four puppies secured in the car, there was only one puppy left for Lochmann to rescue. The final pup leapt from the couch where he’d been curled up and started to run away from his rescuer.
Luckily, the puppy wasn’t running too fast, so Lochmann was able to gently pick him up before he got further out of reach.
“It took me a while to get the last three puppies,” Lochmann said. “But once I got them all in the car, I was so happy.”
The puppies, who passed their veterinary screenings with flying colors, went into foster care almost immediately after being rescued. As soon as Stray Rescue of St. Louis posted a picture of all four puppies together on Facebook, all four of them received an overwhelming amount of adoption requests.
“I think most of them are already spoken for as far as finding their forever homes,” Lochmann said. “But Mama is still with us.”