What began as a casual sighting of a stray dog in Red Deer by Doug and Angela Vanderbrink on their nightly walks this July has turned into a heart-warming, heroic effort to save ‘Austin’ the dog.
It began when the Vanderbrinks were strolling through their Inglewood neighbourhood and noticed what appeared to be a black bag of garbage in front of a tree.
Upon inspection the bag was actually a small dog.
As the pooch sat sunbathing under the tree, the couple approached him until finally he bolted down a nearby back alley.
It wasn’t until three weeks later when the Vanderbrinks were at a friend’s house that evidence of the dog reappeared. They told the story to their friends of the dog they had spotted behind their friend’s home.
“They informed us that he had been there since June,” said Angela. “I was shocked when they said they, along with a couple other neighbours, had been putting food out behind their fences for this little guy to eat. They saw him almost daily but no one could get close to him as he was so scared.”
It was a week later the Vanderbrinks found themselves walking the pathway they had first seen the dog when Doug halted, grabbed Angela’s arm, and pointed to a bush on the burm on 40th Ave.
“When I looked I saw the poor little guy curled up under a bush sleeping,” said Angela. “Again we tried to slowly approach him but as soon as he heard us he took off running.”
It soon became October and Mother Nature’s impending cold fronts loomed in the near distance.
“I saw the little guy under the same bush on 22nd St. I immediately called my husband who then called Animal Control only to be told they would send someone to look,” she explained. “The temperatures were starting to dip to -10C at night and I was starting to worry about this little guy.”
On an evening where temperatures reached below zero, they took to the streets with their friends and began to search for the small dog. A brief sighting was all they had and again the dog was gone.
“The next day it started snowing and I thought for sure this would seal the little guys fate as he wouldn’t be able to find warm shelter or food and we would just find a pile of bones in the spring. We started putting food under the tree where we had seen him the night before and started to share our desperate story.
“I ended up on Kijiji and spotted an ad under ‘pets lost and found’ about a little dog living in the bushes by Inglewood. I responded to the ad with my story and was instantly connected to Jenni. She was concerned about the little guy and was ready to join the hunt and was excellent at adding knowledgeable recruits,” she added.
“We set up a search party for the next day. Unfortunately no one spotted the little guy and we went home empty-handed and empty-hearted.”
As temperatures neared -20C the rescue teams’ hopes began to diminish as their traps baited with food led them no where.
By now Cathy Bourossa, owner of Forever and a Day Rescue, had joined the fight.
Austin the dog was captured recently as Angela went to do the midnight trap check that had been ongoing hourly every day to ensure the dog didn’t freeze upon entering the trap.
“So, there I stood on the burm, looking like a total fool prowling around in the bushes,” said Angela. “I watched as cop cars and taxis went by and waited for someone to stop and ask what I was doing at this hour of the night.”
The rescue took place on the corner of Austin Dr. and 22 St. and how Austin gained his name.
Austin is still awaiting his permanent home, with Bourossa, the Vanderbrinks, and the entire rescue team hoping that someone will find it in their hearts to accept him into their home.
“Austin is extremely bright – he’s housetrained, loves his ball, and was obviously someone’s pet at some point in time,” explained Bourossa, who is currently housing Austin at her rescue.
“No one knows where he came from but we hope to find some place loving for this incredible dog to go.”
For more information on adopting Austin contact Cathy Bourossa at firstname.lastname@example.org.