Mr. Hobo finds a home - for now

Danette Dooley
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Wayward beagle finally nabbed at city dump

It took almost three years and a continuous supply of juicy roast chicken, but Mr. Hobo has finally been captured and is no longer living at the St. John's landfill.

The five-year-old beagle was originally rescued from the C.B.S. North landfill and taken to the SPCA where a family adopted him - only to have him escape a few days later.

The beagle then found his way to the St. John's landfill where he has been living for over two years.

"We started getting calls (about the dog) in February of 2010," says St. John's Humane Services supervisor Cindy McGrath.

Affectionately named Mr. Hobo by McGrath's staff, the dog had an adventurous life at the landfill and would not let anyone close enough to capture him.

Humane Services employees tried netting the dog. They also baited a trap with roast chicken. However, because he had his choice of dump pickings and scraps of food from workers at the landfill, he showed little interest in the proffered poultry.

Volunteers with local animal rescue group Beagle Paws also went with Humane Services staff to try to nab the dog.

After numerous unsuccessful attempts, Humane Services contacted officials with the department of wildlife to see if a medicated dart gun could be used to help aid in the capture.

The officials felt that, because the dog was a small animal, a dart gun could cause more harm than good.

"That's when we decided to go ahead and drug the dog," McGrath says.

The city's veterinarian Dr. Heather Hillier and her assistant Rose Gillingham went to the landfill armed with a trap and more roast chicken that Hillier had laced with enough sedative to at least slow the dog down.

"We were throwing chicken out the window of the van," Hillier recalls.

"The first piece had the medication in it. He gobbled that up so we knew he got the medication. We continued to feed him to keep an eye on him."

Hillier and Gillingham monitored the dog for almost an hour. At one point he appeared sleepy, Gillingham said, but not to the point where he'd let anyone near him.

"We've been following him for so long and we've been getting calls about him. It was very frustrating when we thought he was getting a little bit drowsy, but we still couldn't get him," Gillingham said.

Once they ran out of chicken, the dog trotted off into the woods.

Hillier said they asked the workers at the landfill who'd become very attached to the dog, to keep an eye on him.

"We got a call a little while later that he was in a different area (of the landfill)," she said.

Hillier and Gillingham then decided to camouflage a trap in the woods and leave it there so that the dog could get comfortable with it. They lined it with a blanket and tied the door so it wouldn't shut if the dog went inside.

They left the trap with a trail of chicken leading into it.

Hillier and Gillingham checked it often and put out more chicken. Seeing signs that the dog was indeed going into the trap, after some time, they set it so it would close if he ventured inside.

Animal control officer Mike Joyce headed to the landfill the morning of Nov. 14. He put out food and set the trap.

When he returned a few hours later, it was finally mission accomplished: the dog was inside the trap.

Joyce says his co-workers were elated when he called to tell them the news.

"We were trying for so long and it was a pleasure to get him this time of year, especially with the cold weather coming on," he said.

McGrath says the biggest concern of her staff and the workers at the landfill, when the dog was finally captured, was whether or not the beagle would be adoptable.

Hillier says once Joyce transported the dog to the shelter, she examined him and found him to be timid but otherwise healthy and overweight.

"He's a big boy, beagle wise, and other than smelling like a landfill, he was in good health. We've since got some vaccines into him and a really good de-worming protocol."

McGrath says Mr. Hobo is adjusting well to life at Humane Services. Although he's had very little human contact for more than half of his life, she says, he's getting used to people and appears to be adoptable.

He'll remain at Humane Services for the next week or so and, if a suitable home hasn't been found, Mr. Hobo will be placed in the care of Beagle Paws. Since 2003, the organization has facilitated over 1,500 adoptions throughout the country.

"We're hoping that it won't be very long and instead of sleeping in the landfill, he'll be sleeping on the foot of someone's bed. He deserves that," McGrath says.

telegram@thetelegram.com danette@nl.rogers.com

Organizations: Humane Services

Geographic location: St. John's

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  • Tom
    December 02, 2012 - 17:57

    This dog had a great life at the landfill. The staff looked after him better than some beagle owners. He would go to the woods around the landfill and run rabbits when he wanted to, and had a great time. His shelter was a dried out culvert close by, the staff made sure he had warm blankets and was always comfortable, and he feasted on the finest food. He was loved and cared for by the fine people working at the landfill, and had a happy life. He is in good health, as attested by the city vet. So my question is, was this necessary, was this a dog in distress, mistreated, abused, unhappy, hungry? He has now been plucked out of the envoirenment he loved, and the people who loved him, because some offical, or bleeding heart thinks its best for him. Don;t get me wrong, I have had beagles for over 50 years, and I treasure them. This is a happy beagle, not causing any trouble, and living the life he wanted, not doing any harm, at no risk to anyone. He had a home, and a caring family of many people. I think this beagle should have been left alone, unless their was evidence he was in distress and needed help. I think its a sad day for this little beagle, and his extended family at the landfill. I wish him well, but most likely he will run away again and return to the home that he loves. ]If the people who have him now, really are concerned about the dogs well being and happiness, they will return him to his proper home at the landfill. I am not so sure this move is in the best intrest of the dog

  • Liz
    December 02, 2012 - 09:33

    This story is so heartwarming. Good luck puppy on finding that special forever home! Bouquets to all who helped to keep this puppy alive and well.

  • Duffy
    December 02, 2012 - 09:13

    Great Story now take a look at the starving abandoned cats everywhere in the Province. Port De Grave is a perfect example where the Port Authority does nothing and there are ferrel cats everywhere. People try to feed them but it is a never ending ignored problem. The Port Authority (fishermen) apparently could care less. The Province should attach conditions to all the grants (tax money) they get there for their personal gain.

  • Justme
    December 02, 2012 - 08:50

    What a nice story. Everyone involved in this story, are wonderful people. i hope this sweet litlle doggie gets a good home.