A team of Missouri park rangers were on duty when they heard an unusual noise in the far distance. And as they followed the sound, they began to realize it was actually an animal’s desperate cries. However, all of their collective years of experience could not have prepared them for the heartbreaking scene they were about to discover.
Fortunately, though, Great Plains SPCA eventually came to the rescue of the stricken creature. The animal welfare organization, based in Kansas City, operates a “no-kill” policy and cares for upwards of 35,000 animals a year. And from providing veterinary care in the community to rescuing and housing homeless animals, there’s a whole host of ways Great Plains SPCA can offer help to creatures in the local area.
As a result, staff at the organization often receive calls about strays in that part of the state. So in April 2017 they leapt into action when they heard about an animal in need. This time, however, the distress call came from a rather unexpected source.
That’s because the alert came from a park ranger – a role which, from the outside, seems like quite an idyllic job. After all, rangers get to spend their days in the great outdoors, interacting with the public and tending to flora and fauna as well as patrolling trails. However, as Great Plains SPCA staff were to discover, their jobs are not always a walk in the park.
Indeed, a group of rangers had been working in Kansas City when they stumbled across a harrowing scene. They had been patrolling Longview Lake, a large reservoir to the south of the city, when they heard cries coming from nearby. And they sounded like those of an animal in desperate need.
However, locating the exact origin of the noise would be no easy task. Longview Lake is vast, covering 930 acres of countryside with fresh water. Moreover, the parkland surrounding the lake adds another 4,852 acres.
Despite this, the park rangers were determined to track down the source of the pitiful cries as quickly as possible. Luckily, it wasn’t long before they found what they had been looking for. And the sight that confronted them may have shocked them beyond belief.
There, stuck in the boggy shoreline, was a very sorry-looking dog. Mired in mud, a chain around its neck had been attached to a massive cinderblock to make sure it couldn’t escape. It looked like whoever had been responsible had left the animal there to die.
The rangers saw that the mud levels had already reached partway up the legs of the distressed Labrador-German Shepherd mix. And, to make matters worse, the waters seemed to be slowly rising. In addition, they knew that weather forecasters were expecting heavy rain, so flooding of the area was a very real possibility.
So the park rangers knew that time was of the essence if this story was going to have a happy ending and they were to rescue this poor animal successfully. As a result, they immediately contacted Great Plains SPCA for assistance. Then they got to work trying to drag the dog to safety.
Somehow the rangers managed to loop a leash around the 12-inch-square cinderblock that was weighing the animal down. Then, they worked as a team to pull the dog from the muddy lake bed. And thanks to their efforts, the unfortunate pooch was soon safely back on dry land.
But when Great Plains SPCA officer Tonya Hampton arrived 25 minutes later, she could instantly see that the dog was understandably mistrustful. “[He] was scared at first and hesitant to trust us,” she told People in May 2017. “So it was difficult to get him freed from his cinderblock prison.”
However, given her experience, Hampton had a few tricks of the trade up her sleeve. She knew, for instance, that the easiest way to win the dog’s trust was through his stomach. So she began doling out food, in the hope that they could form a bond.
“When I arrived, I was able to gain his trust by offering treats. I was able to free him from the cinderblock, and he walked into a kennel without hesitation,” Hampton explained. And after she’d captured the dog, she was able to take him back to the Great Plains SPCA facility.
“Once at the shelter, he was still a little reserved,” she continued. “However, after a few minutes he [lit] up as if he knew he was safe. We gave him a bath since he was so very muddy, and he seemed to appreciate our efforts.”
After vets subsequently checked the dog over, they discovered he was somewhere between five and seven years old. They also said that there was no way he ended up in the park by accident. “There is no doubt this was intentional,” Hampton said in a statement to Fox 4 News.
She added that the dog was “presumably left to drown in high water levels.” As a result, Hampton urged anyone with information about the incident to come forward. If the organization could catch the people responsible, it could potentially save yet more animal lives in the future.
Happily, with the help of Great Plains SPCA staff, the rescued dog was putting his traumatic ordeal behind him. He even had a new name – Deputy – and was transforming into the most loving animal.
“[He’s a] love bug, who is super-smart and knows many commands,” Hampton revealed to People. Furthermore, she said that Deputy had already sparked a lot of interest from potential forever families. So, hopefully, it won’t be long until he finds a new home.
“Our hope is that he finally knows what true love and safety really means, as he has been through so much already,” Hampton said. “I wish people were more like these dogs, so forgiving and loving. Mankind would be much better off.”