How to rescue a lost stray dog

Kas the dog, when she was first rescuedSometimes, it takes a village to rescue a lost stray dog. It certainly took one to save two-year-old Kas. Her journey to Best Friends and road to recovery became the perfect example of how rescue organizations and good Samaritans can work together to save pets.

Today, Kas is shining with health and happiness and is having fun in Dogtown. But things could have turned out very differently if she hadn’t gotten help when she did, or if a small “village” of concerned rescuers hadn’t pitched in to help.

Taking in a stray dog

It was mid-May when a local animal rescue worker sent an email to Dogtown manager Chris Vergallito to report a stray dog. The dog, looking very sad and injured, was wandering aimlessly in the southeastern Utah desert. She was out by a desolate stretch of highway near some oil pumps. She was thin and timid — too scared to come to anyone. But she was literally miles from a safe and comfortable place, and she wasn’t going to last in the scorching desert heat.

Chris reached out to her rescue contacts in the area, and soon one of them set a humane trap, caught the suffering dog and transferred her to a small local rescue group. That’s when the dog, named Karshima-Sage (Kas for short), was first examined by a vet. She was diagnosed with a laundry list of health issues, including mange, tapeworms, giardia, a parasitic infection and a tick-borne illness. On top of it all, Kas was afraid. She didn’t even want to come out of her crate.

Her rescuers gave her some time to adjust and started the treatment for her various ailments. Slowly, Kas began to come around. With time and TLC, she relaxed and started asking to be petted. A few of her numerous medical conditions began to clear up, but she’d need more care to get fully healthy, and her treatments put a strain on the small rescue group’s resources. So Kas was brought to Best Friends for the extensive help she needed.

Learn what to do if you find stray dog or cat

Treatment for mange, a tick-borne illness and a low platelet count

Kas came to Dogtown in early June and settled into the area where all dogs first go when they arrive. The admissions area at Dogtown is large and bright with spacious indoor-outdoor rooms, designed to ensure that dogs get the best welcome possible. Kas called one of those rooms home for nearly two months, and during that time she took frequent trips to the Best Friends Animal Clinic for medical help.

On arrival, she looked “like a freshly hatched baby bird with no fur and pink skin,” according to Dogtown caregiver Rebecca Woodruff. But as her infections were treated and her skin began to heal from the mange, she started looking better and better. Kas’ treatments would continue for a while until she was completely free of the mange and fully recovered from the tick-borne illness and a low platelet count.

That didn’t mean that Kas couldn’t interact with people and other dogs or have fun in the meantime. Her ailments weren’t contagious, and she was getting stronger every day. Although she was shy in the beginning, playing with other dogs really helped her loosen up. She befriended a blind puppy and a dog with a leg injury who was living in the clinic. They became her friends and regular playmates until she could move on into the next phase of her recovery.

Kas the dog, with Janna

Free and clear

Finally, in late July Kas was healthy enough to be spayed. Her platelet count was back up, she was free of the tick-borne illness and cleared of the mange that had done so much damage to her skin. As soon as she recovered from the surgery, she packed her bags and moved into a new area of Dogtown. There, it didn’t take her long to transform into the social butterfly she is at heart. “Right away, she was as sweet as she could be with everyone she meets,” says Rebecca.

Sadly, Kas’ past taught her that the world can be a scary place. While she’s generally outgoing and curious, she’s still understandably cautious in new situations, and everything is new to her. But she’s handling it with grace. “She has been really resilient,” says Rebecca. “Her main hurdles to get over are walking on leash and experiencing new things all the time. But it’s helped to be doing these things with people she trusts.”

Janna is one of the people who Kas trusts

A true testament

Kas recently went on her first golf cart ride with her caregiver. While it was a little scary at first, she decided she liked it once they got going. Her ears flew back in the wind and she happily sniffed the air. Her fur coat, which has fully grown back in a rich brindle color, gleamed in the sunlight. “She looks all silky and beautiful,” says Rebecca. “You’d never know what she looked like before.”

Indeed, Kas has made an amazing transformation from a sad, sick and desperate stray to the loving, healthy and vibrant dog she is today. It took the efforts of a half dozen dedicated rescuers and months of treatment. But now, Kas has become a testament to how working together truly can help Save Them All, and, most important of all, how compassion and cooperation can change the life of one scared and sick stray dog.

Help bring hope and healing to more animals like Kas

Kas the dog has made an amazing transformation

Great news for Kas, she's been adopted.

Photos by Kurt Budde and Kathy Moore

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