Published on December 02, 2012
Mr. Hobo at the St. John's Humane Services. Photo by Danette Dooley/Special to The Telegram
Published on December 02, 2012
(From left) Humane Services supervisor Cindy McGrath, city veterinarian Dr. Heather Hillier and animal controls officers Mike Joyce and Rose Gillingham pose with Mr. Hobo. Photo by Danette Dooley/Special to The Telegram
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.