The first time Donna Lochmann searched a crumbling, abandoned apartment building in St. Louis, Missouri, she couldn’t find who she was looking for. A Good Samaritan called Stray Rescue of St. Louis (SRSL) to report a dog sighting, but Lochmann, the shelter’s chief life saving officer, came out empty-handed.
“We searched every floor and never saw anything,” Lochmann told The Dodo. “There was not one dog, nothing.”
With temperatures dropping and more calls coming in about a dog barking from inside the building, Lochmann decided to go back again and keep searching. This time, she found someone.
“When I got to the backside of the building, I saw a dog lying in the grass,” Lochmann said. “I saw her run towards the back of the building and she went in, so I followed her.”
Unfortunately, by the time Lochmann made it inside the building, the dog had already disappeared into one of the many empty apartments. She couldn’t find the pup on her own, so Lochmann went back to the shelter and recruited the help of other staff members.
Lochmann and her team went back to the building the next day, and as they went from room to room searching for the scared pup, they suddenly heard barking coming from inside.
“I got over there and there was a poor dog just lying in the rubble of this building,” Lochmann said. “She was absolutely trembling, her legs were shaking so hard.”
The weather was cold that day, but Lochmann knew that the dog’s shaking was caused by fear more so than lack of warmth.
“I felt so bad for her,” Lochmann said. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen one shaking that hard, and it’s just gut-wrenching to see them so scared of you.”
To get the dog out of the building, Lochmann decided to use a plastic crate instead of attempting to walk her out on a leash. Not only would it be physically difficult to lead the pup out of the crumbling building on a leash, but Lochmann feared it would stress her out even more.
So Lochmann used the leash she had to guide the dog into the plastic crate, then quickly closed the door behind her.
“Once she was in the crate, she was calm,” Lochmann said.
You can watch video of the rescue here:
Lochmann and her team carried the crate out of the building, then gently loaded it into her Jeep. They brought her back to the shelter, where she underwent a medical evaluation. Luckily for the pup, she passed with flying colors.
The dog, whom Lochmann named Habenero, was OK physically, but she was still a little nervous when she first got to the shelter.
“She was still pretty scared at first,” Lochmann said. “But she came around fairly quickly. Within a few days, she wasn’t growling anymore and she stopped shaking when we would talk to her.”
Habanero has since been spending time with Lochmann and her crew at the shelter, slowly getting used to her surroundings. Together, they go on walks around the neighborhoods surrounding the shelter and enjoy plenty of snuggles throughout the day.
Now that Habanero is feeling more comfortable, Lochmann believes that she’s finally ready to go into a foster home. It’ll be yet another change for the 7-year-old pup, but Lochmann is confident that she’ll thrive.
“Once she gets into a home, she’s gonna have a bit of adjustment to do,” Lochmann said. “But she’ll do great. I’m just glad she’s not trembling anymore.”
To help animals like Habanero get the help they need, make a donation to Stray Rescue of St. Louis or check out their list of available adoptees.