Saint Louis, MO, September 21, 2010 – After a previous failed attempt, two stray dogs who had long awaited their turn to be rescued by Gateway Pet Guardians finally had their day on the morning of Thursday, September 16. But less than 24 hours after being rescued, the two refugees called Bea and Aaron, had escaped through the fencing of their temporary home’s backyard in Lafayette Square and were nowhere to be found.
Bea and Aaron had been living on the streets in East St. Louis for at least seven years and had little to no human contact outside of the Gateway Pet Guardians volunteers who came to feed them every morning.
“We finally had a foster home open up so we were ready to get them off the streets about a month ago,” explained Jamie Case, the Executive Director of Gateway Pet Guardians. “But our first rescue attempt went a little bit awry. They are both so timid around people, we just couldn’t get them into the car.”
After a successful second attempt on Thursday morning, both dogs were transported to the home of P.J. Hightower, Gateway founder, to be held temporarily until they could be taken in for a veterinary examination the following day, but Bea and Aaron had other plans. They jumped over the six foot tall fence in Hightower’s backyard and began wandering through the city. That’s when Gateway turned to its most powerful resource-their Facebook group.
“We have over 1,400 fans on our Facebook page, many of whom live in the downtown area. We normally use it to recruit volunteers and distribute information about events and fundraisers and the dogs that we rescue. A bulletin was posted immediately along with P.J.’s cell number for everyone to be on the look out. We already had videos and photos of the two up on the site from when we rescued them,” says the group’s president, Amie Simmons.
Reports of sightings began pouring in from Soulard to South City, and Facebook fans who lived in the area stepped up to hit the streets and search for the missing dogs as well as check local shelters for animals matching their descriptions. Updates of where the duo were last seen were posted as they came in, and other rescue bulletin boards got in on the action.
“Because they [Bea and Aaron] aren’t used to being around people, it is nearly impossible for anyone but P.J. to get close to them. She’s the only person they know,” said Case. “And with the huge storm that blew in over the weekend, we were really worried about their whereabouts and whether or not they would be able to find shelter.”
The tip that helped volunteers track the dogs down came on Sunday from a report reposted by a GPG Facebook fan who saw a post on Stray Rescue’s facebook page from another user about two stray dogs-a female black lab mix, and a brown and black male-that she had noticed wandering the streets in a nearby neighborhood.
“Just talked to Jamie [Case], got her name off a Soulard email blaster. Someone left this post on Stray Rescue’s facebook page, pretty sure it’s the dogs you guys are looking for, so I thought I’d pass this along in as many ways as possible. Hope you find them!” posted Jessica Pugh.
Aaron and Bea were finally located four days later on Monday morning by Hightower in the area near at Broadway and Osage where they approached close enough for her to feed them some food along with tranquilizers to make the rescue easier. After eating, they crossed Broadway and fell asleep in some bushes next to a building. They were then picked up by Case, Hightower and two other Gateway volunteers and driven to a local veterinarian for a health examination. Both are safe and awaiting the OK to be taken to their new foster home. Both have tested positive for heartworms, a common, treatable disease among feral dogs.
Gateway Pet Guardians is currently raising money to purchase a shelter to house dogs like Bea and Aaron that will give them a temporary safe haven until a suitable foster family can be lined up. Their next effort is the Soiree for Strays Gala to be held no November 18th in conjunction with the showing of their film, Gateway Guardians: A Documentary, at the Webster University campus as part of the St. Louis International Film Festival. Bea and Aaron appear in film as the last two members of their original pack still on the streets.
The group will honor its most dedicated volunteers and donors at the gala including Hightower, who also plays an integral part in the film. The event, held at Schroer Commons at Eden Theological Seminary immediately after the film showing, will include cocktails and appetizers by Match Meat, and a few of the furrier of the film’s stars who, like Bea and Aaron, were rescued during the shooting period.
About Gateway Pet Guardians
Gateway Pet Guardians is a nonprofit virtual animal shelter that relies on donations and volunteer foster families to rescue starving and abandoned animals. For more information about Gateway Pet Guardians, events, purchasing tickets, or to donate, volunteer, or become a foster family, visit www.gatewaypets.com.