SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A stray dog who survived more than five weeks on her own, during which she was hit by a car and sustained injuries, is finally rehabilitated and ready for adoption.
Estrella was first spotted in Tahoe City in February. It took several tries and several weeks of animal control to save her.
Around this time, she was reportedly hit by a car and injured. Now, after a long physical and mental rehabilitation, the Humane Society of Truckee Tahoe is delighted to announce that she is available for adoption.
five weeks alone
On the morning of February 15, a member of the Tahoe City community approached the vehicle of Placer County Animal Control Officer Pete Krengel to alert him to a stray dog in his neighborhood. The resident said the dog had been hanging around the neighborhood for a few days, but no one could catch him. Neighborhoods in Truckee-Tahoe are mostly pet-friendly, and residents often know the neighborhood dogs and cats. But on this occasion, no one knew who this dog was or where she came from.
For several days, animal control officers and local residents did everything they could to try to bait, bait and capture this stray dog. This particular dog was built for Tahoe winters, with a very thick coat, and had a good weight on her at that time. The dog continued to evade capture for almost two weeks. Then all of a sudden the intercourse stopped and she disappeared. Fearing the worst, animal control continued to monitor.
A few days later she reappeared, but in a new neighborhood about a mile away. She continued to prove difficult to trap and escaped to this area for a few weeks, living on alms, trash, and whatever she could find.
Meanwhile, Animal Control, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol were receiving hourly calls asking about her whereabouts. During this time, there were at least two reports that she had been hit by a car. Limping now, slowing down a bit and becoming much thinner, she continued to run freely.
Animal Control enlisted Wendy Jones, Executive Director of Tahoe Paws and TLC 4 Furry Friends, a well-known and experienced animal search and rescue specialist in the South Lake Tahoe area. Jones, along with an officer, managed to trap the stray dog and brought her to the Truckee shelter.
Once at the shelter, she was scanned for a microchip. Animal Control learned her name was Estrella and were able to locate the owner information. Despite best efforts by the animal services team to get in touch with the registered owner, the owner has not responded. It became clear that they couldn’t or wouldn’t get her back and that she had probably been dumped. Knowing she had an injury and with the time she was spending alone outdoors, she was transferred to a local vet for medical treatment and diagnosis.
Medical rehabilitation and 2nd rescue
During her vet visit, she underwent an X-ray which showed she had a dislocated hip, injuries to both eyes and foreign objects, such as gravel, bark and sticks in her stomach. Two days later, Estrella, still very nervous and scared, managed to evade veterinary staff while being loaded up to be taken back to the shelter. Now on the loose in Truckee, she has been spotted numerous times by locals and on Residents’ Ring cameras. Still limping and becoming much leaner, she was reluctant to step into the trap this second time.
Two weeks passed. All the while, Animal Control kept a close eye on reports of where she had been seen and continued trapping efforts. Finally, one afternoon, after being spotted near a local golf course, Jones and animal control officers moved the trap, re-baited her, and gently “pushed” her toward the trap. . She entered and was again brought to the shelter. Shortly after her return, she was placed in the care of the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe.
After being alone for at least five weeks and due to her screening, the shelter staff knew she needed serious medical attention immediately. HSTT partnered with another local shelter, Pet Network, and sent her to their vet clinic for treatment. Thanks to the incredible veterinary staff at Pet Network, Estrella received the care she desperately needed. HSTT staff were overjoyed when they discovered that Estrella’s dislocated rear leg could be repaired by surgery and they feared the amputation would not be necessary.
Now that the medical part of Estrella’s recovery was taken care of and she was back in the safety of the Truckee shelter, the real work on her overwhelming fear of unfamiliar people, sounds and environments could begin.
HSTT staff knew Estrella could be rehabilitated and overcome her fear, but it would take time. One of the first to really earn Estrella’s trust was Julie Del Vecchio, a staff member at Town of Truckee Animal Services. It was slow at first.
“Every day I worked with her, feeding her bits of roast chicken throughout the day until she started eating out of my hand,” Del Vecchio says. “She started to work through her fear with me and after about a week she allowed me to pat her head. After another week of constant work and patience she let me hitch her up and put her in leash to take him for short walks.
With the help of many Animal Services and HSTT staff as well as several dedicated volunteers, Estrella slowly began to trust people more and more. She still has a long way to go to fully trust people and new surroundings, but HSTT knows with confidence that Estrella is now ready to truly find her way into a loving new home.
Although Estrella has many qualities, such as walking well on a leash, being highly motivated and enjoying being outdoors, she is not the dog for everyone. She needs a very specific home that will continue her journey to becoming a well socialized and confident dog.
She needs a calm, adult-only home where patience will play a key role in her continued growth in trusting people and her environment. Estrella really enjoys being around other dogs and could benefit from a calm and confident “model dog”.
It would be great for her to be placed in a home with a dog like this that she could learn from (cats are unknown). She needs a home that understands her path to recovery and is dedicated to continuing her socialization. For a time, she will need to be fully tethered outside, so a fenced yard will play a big part in slowly allowing her to hopefully be off leash at some point. She also wears special glasses outside for her eye condition. She will need a plan for when she is left unsupervised and a commitment to ongoing training. HSTT is happy to cover some costs associated with training.
Last but not least, Estrella needs to feel safe at home. Once his confidence is gained, he is an affectionate, gentle and confident puppy. A house that won’t push her too hard, but will wait until she’s ready to take the next step and a house that will celebrate all of her wins is exactly what she’s looking for.
If you are interested in meeting Estrella for adoption, call HSTT at 530-587-5948 or visit the shelter Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.