Mange, heartworms, open wounds, bones clearly visible under the skin, broken and missing teeth, infections, and bum legs are common conditions of newly rescued street dogs.  Before they’re trapped, the dogs pop up in Volunteers’ pictures as they ride with P.J. on the daily stray feeding routes in East St. Louis.  The beauty of a single dog caught in the early morning fog belies the life that dog leads as it survives harsh weather, competes with other dogs for resources, and learns that some humans are to be avoided.

Aubrey 2One such dog who’s been chronicled for the last five years is Aubrey, an “owned” dog who, because she was allowed to roam, essentially became feral.  A white shepherd mix, Aubrey looks formidable in size and personality in David Carlyon’s photos.  Aubrey’s owner warned GPG volunteers that she wasn’t dog friendly, and he locked her littermate Sol in a shed for four years to avoid conflict between the dogs.  (GPG quickly rescued Sol last year after learning of her miserable existence.)  What the volunteers eventually discovered about Aubrey is that she had her own pack, including Larry, Spice Kid, Buki, and a few other female dogs.  Unlike Larry, however, Aubrey tended to hang back during the feedings, wary of humans.

Aubrey 4Rescuing a dog like Aubrey requires a great deal of coordination and resources.  First, the owner has to relinquish the dog; he finally did so saying that GPG could have her if they could catch her.  Catching a dog like Aubrey who doesn’t trust people can be extremely difficult, and an experienced foster must be ready and willing to take her when she is caught.  As Aubrey’s health deteriorated over the last year—she appeared to have lost weight and went from limping on her left front leg to letting it hang slack at her side—efforts were increased to trap her.

On Wednesday, March 11, the trap door finally shut behind Aubrey, and so began her new life.  A physical examination at Hillside Animal Hospital revealed the cause of her leg problems: an infection in her shoulder.  An X-ray revealed the cause of that infection: a bullet lodged in her thorax.  Bullets in rescued street dogs are not uncommon.  Someone may have shot her by accident.  Perhaps someone saw her as a threat or nuisance and so pointed the gun.  The most difficult scenario to imagine is that someone did it for fun, for sport.  Street dogs like Aubrey are twice discarded—first by their owners and then by the community around them—and as such “trash,” they are easy targets.

Aubrey 3Hillside’s veterinarians have decided not to remove the bullet at this time and to continue to monitor Aubrey’s recovery, which will include undergoing treatment for heartworms—a treatment that is necessary but hard on a dog’s system.  On Friday, March 13, Aubrey was picked up from Hillside by Sarah and Brian Meyer, her foster parents.  In Brian’s arms, Aubrey looks small and defenseless.  In fact, she weighs only 37 pounds.  The Meyers are the perfect foster for Aubrey, not only because they’ve been anxiously waiting for her rescue—eager to nurse her back to health—but because several years ago they adopted a GPG puppy Tibia, now Montana, who is believed to be Aubrey’s daughter. In Tibia’s rescue video, Aubrey hangs on the periphery, watching.

Aubrey 5While Aubrey’s story is unique, her circumstances are not, and many other dogs like Aubrey await rescue.  Gateway Pet Guardians relies on its volunteers and donors to change the lives of dogs like Aubrey.  Please consider making a donation for her and other dogs who need veterinary care.  For example, there’s Double Deuce, a member of Aubrey’s pack, who was also recently rescued with a hip bone shattered by a bullet.

Other dogs cannot be rescued without having fosters lined up, so please also consider becoming a foster parent.  The experience will change your life as much as it does theirs.


Aubrey will be a featured dog as part of our Giving Guardian Monthly Donation Program.  If you choose to sponsor Aubrey with a monthly donation we will keep you updated on her progress as well as a lot of other benefits.

[alert type=”warning” color=”#E41D1D” show_close=”true”]Join the Giving Guardians program! Sponsor Aubrey![/alert]

[alert type=”warning” color=”#888″ show_close=”true”] Follow Aubrey on her Facebook page created by her foster parents![/alert]

 Written by: Jennifer Agnew
Photographs by: Darkwood Studio