A regular household dog cannot hunt for its own food, let alone make it on the streets. Their owners are usually around to give them everything they need and more, so when pooch and person get separated, things get desperate quickly.
Thankfully, there are organizations and volunteers who take care of at-risk animals, but it’s not without a lot of hard work. When a dog turned up in the strangest place one chilly August night, it was time for one of those heroes to step in…
When an unknown dog appeared at a liquor store in San Diego, nobody knew where it came from; in fact, nobody even knew how to save this animal until one woman walked in the door.
Sabrina Wilkerson is a member of the local animal rescue, as well as a volunteer at the Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego County. She’s always happy to lend a helping hand to any four-legged friend.
According to the Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego’s Facebook page, the breed is disproportionately seen in the city’s shelters. Therefore, Sabrina and the other members often foster dogs in order to find them a suitable forever home.
Because of her association with this organization, Wilkerson received a phone call one evening early August. On the line was the owner of a nearby liquor shop, who had had an unexpected visitor walk into the store.
Sabrina asked the store owner if the dog was friendly, but he wouldn’t approach it. He did, however, get close enough to take a few pictures that he could text to Sabrina. Once she saw its helpless face, she jumped into her car and was on her way.
Once Sabrina arrived at the scene, she rushed to the scared dog’s side. There, she found it hiding underneath the orange juice, wet from being outside in the rain, and covered in a rag provided by the owner in an attempt to keep it warm.
At first, the animal did not want to go with the dog rescuer. Imagine being a lost pup, hiding in a strange bright place, surrounded by people you’ve never seen before. “He showed us his teeth,” Wilkerson said. “He was just stressed out,”
Still, Sabrina had plenty of experience with fearful chihuahuas and waited patiently for the dog to trust her. It paid off because not much later she was able to remove the dog safely from its hiding place and into a crate, with which she drove off to the nearest vet.
The reason why Sabrina took the dog to the vet right away was not only to make sure that it was okay, but to scan the dog for a microchip. Sadly, it wouldn’t be so easy…
The lost dog didn’t have a microchip, nor a collar with any kind of information. It was already quite late, so before Sabrina could take the next step, she took the dog home. There, she was able to discover a bit more of its personality. “He was sweet,” she said, “and he warmed up, and you could tell he was friendly.”
The next morning, it was time to bring the chihuahua to the local shelter — this was the protocol for rescuers, in case the original owners would show up in an attempt to find their dog. But this was one dog who wouldn’t be seeing the inside of a shelter…
Wilkerson admitted that “I didn’t take him in a crate. I figured I’d just carry him in my arms. I don’t know what I was thinking – I’d never done this before with a stray.” When she pulled the door of the car open to take the doggie out, it suddenly made a run for it.
Several onlookers tried to get a hold of the chihuahua, but unfortunately, it got away. Still, the dedicated dog rescuer didn’t give up. Instead, Wilkerson created flyers and hung them near where she had lost the pooch, in the hope that another hero might save the day.
And somebody did! That same night, a woman named Austin Walker called to say that she had found the runaway dog and that she’d return him to the same shelter to which Sabrina had tried to bring him earlier.
Wilkerson made her way back to the shelter in the morning to make sure the dog was, indeed, the same one she had lost. When she saw that it was definitely the same pooch, she decided to foster him and find him a new home. For the time being, she named him Austin, after his new hero.
When nobody came to find the dog or adopt him at the shelter, it was time for Austin to come home with Sabrina once again. This time, the two had the opportunity to bond, and she became quite attached to the little pooch. “He takes a little while to warm up, but he’s a sweetheart when he trusts you,” she said.
Despite her own fondness of little guy Austin, Sabrina did set out to find him a forever home. She owned and fostered plenty of dogs already and did not quite have the time to give him the tender loving care he needed. Luckily, it didn’t take long at all before she had found a winner…
In August 28, only a few weeks after Austin was rescued from the liquor store, a couple named Kate and Irina showed up on Sabrina’s doorstep, ready to take Austin home with them. They had adopted a shy chihuahua before, so Sabrina knew Austin would be in perfect hands.
Irina worked from home, so she had plenty of time to devote to their new pet, which was exactly what he needed. On top of that, he got to play with the chihuahua that the moms already owned, so Austin’s future was certainly looking up.
Wilkerson told her followers who knew Austin’s story that his new family “understood that he’s going to need some time and patience.” But the dog rescuer knew he’d soon thrive with “consistency and stability. I have no doubt that he will turn into a confident, happy, loving little boy.”