After cries for help were heard in the distance, red flags were raised. Chances of survival were slim since they were so far from civilization and without access to food or water. A simple phone call began an epic life-saving mission. Sadly, one woman’s life came to a tragic end, but her memory would continue on in the lives that were left behind.
While on the outskirts of LA, in between a rail yard and a highway, the desperate sounds of high-pitched whimpers were being drowned out by the hustle and bustle of high-speed traffic. Luckily, one passerby was in the right place at the right time. As he put his ear close to the ground, his heart dropped: there was no mistaking it. The cries of terrified puppies could be heard coming from far below the surface.
Locals told the unnamed stranger that a feral dog in the area had been evading rescue teams for years. Some even said that the dog had just given birth to a litter of puppies, but hadn’t been seen for a few days. That meant only one thing: without food and water, and protection from other animals, those puppies wouldn't make it. The stranger knew there was only one team who could take on a job like this.
Time was running out for the pups, so he called LA animal rescue specialists Hope for Paws and asked specifically for the A-Team, decorated heroes Eldad and Audrey Hagar. If anyone was able to find and rescue these pups successfully, it was this dynamic duo. Together they have saved, fostered and rehabilitated countless dogs suffering in LA's concrete jungle. But even still, as the team approached the source of the whimpers, the team started wondering if they were led into a trap.
Things just weren't adding up. First of all, the team had no idea where the puppies were exactly, nor how many there might be. What's worse, the only sound they could hear was the speeding cars from the nearby highway. In fact, all they had to go on was the last location of the dog: a creepy, abandoned strip of land far from town. And just then, right before they were about to call it a day, they fell right into it.
After several hours, Eldad and his team finally stumbled upon the tiny cave the stranger was referring to. Yet no puppies could be heard. The cave was too small and unstable to crawl into, leaving them with one choice. They had to lure them out. The puppies, having never met a human before were petrified. But after a while, their grumbling bellies got the best of them and a few hesitantly emerged from hiding. But as soon as their little heads became visible, Eldad's real problem started to show itself.
As a few puppies crept forward, the first thing Eldad noticed was their diverse fur coloring and patterns. The mother was reported to be tan-colored, but these pups were black, brown, tan and everything else in-between. That meant only one thing for Eldad. They weren't trying to rescue one litter, they were rescuing at least two! And now, as the pups were in range, Eldad and his team made a huge mistake: one that would force Eldad to put his life on the line.
When one got close enough, Lisa Arturo, a team member, scooped it up. She pet it, trying to show the rest of the litter that there was no reason to be afraid. He seemed to enjoy it. That was, until the unthinkable happened. "They don't understand what we're doing there, for all they know we're predators trying to hurt them," Hagar said.
When one pup let out a scream, both litters bolted back to the caves below. Without ever being held by human hands before, can you really blame them? Luckily, team leader Eldad had a backup plan. He began digging out the entrance so he could crawl into the caves to search for the pups. The work, however, was dangerous, not just for the puppies, but for Eldad as well.
The tunnels were so cramped that his only exit was to be pulled out. Using a pole with a rope-catch, he courageously saved a few by “fishing them out." By this time though, the remaining pups were so terrified that they fled well out of the rescue team’s reach. It would take a miracle to rescue them now.
Left with no choice, they began digging their way to the puppies, which were located 18 feet underground. After locating two more puppies, the total number of rescued puppies came to 8. By a miracle, after making one last dive, he located the last silent, shivering puppy. But the rescue mission was still far from over.
After arrival, the puppies were washed, fed and their medical needs were tended to. Soon enough, the once terrified pups were jumping with joy. Still being very young, the pups were introduced to a surrogate mother named Olive after they arrived. Their new mother would care for them and feed them until the puppies were old enough to be adopted.
In memory of Lisa M. Ashe, the rescuers named each puppy using a letter from her name: Luke, Isaac, Sarah, Abraham, Mary, Angel, Solomon, Heaven and Ezekiel. The rescuers, gleaming with pride, knowing that wherever Lisa was, she was certainly smiling down on them. She would now live on via the nine rescued puppies. Just like she would have wanted.
From abandoned, homeless and hungry puppies, the rescued litter was given a new lease on life. They now have a second chance to live happy healthy lives thanks to Hope for Paws. The puppies are now searching for new loving homes where they can flourish into their full potential. Once dirty and underweight, the puppies were now ready to take on the world.
The Hope for Paws YouTube video of the rescue mission has received over 170,000 likes and over 7 million times views, and comments have been overwhelmingly positive with many feeling inspired to pursue missions of their own to help animals. One YouTube commenter even stated that the video inspired her to apply for veterinarian school.
Due to their sheer number of puppies, Hope for Paws requested assistance from two separate foster homes to help find the puppies new homes: The Dog Rescuers and The Lovejoy Foundation Inc. Eldad’s viral videos of his extreme animal rescues have made his non-profit one of the most well-known animal rescue organizations in the Los Angeles area.
Lisa, one of the rescuers, who had spent endless hours and resources saving puppies, and giving them a good future, had passed away. Most would consider the task a lost cause, but Lisa took it on as her life’s work. Even though they were mourning, the clock was ticking, so the organization jumped to action without even having to think twice.