The love and dedication animals can show for their babies is heart-melting. When this pit bull was saved from the streets, for example, she sparked a race against time to find her puppies. And rescuers had to rely on just mommy’s maternal instinct to save them, while hoping all the while that the defenseless dogs had survived in her absence.
This particular story was brought to light on a December 2016 episode of Pit Bulls and Parolees that understandably touched many hearts. The Animal Planet show depicts the lives of ex-convicts who are trying to be productive members of society. To help them find acceptance, moreover, they work with another stigmatized group: pit bulls.
The episode in question featured a story about a dog that had recently been taken off the streets. The pit bull, who would later be called Miss Wanda, had been found in Napoleonville, Louisiana. And Tia Torres, who runs New Orleans’ Villalobos Rescue Center, explained during the show the condition in which the canine had been discovered.
“This morning Marcel called me and told me that [animal control of Assumption Parish] dropped off a very emaciated [dog],” Torres revealed. But as well as her malnourishment, Miss Wanda was also exhibiting another sign that made rescuers concerned. Specifically, it was clear that she had recently become a mommy.
“From what I’m told, she’s still lactating and this can mean there’s some little newborn puppies somewhere that depend on her to live,” Torres continued. “It’s a very urgent situation.” She decided the best way to find them, though, was to rely on Miss Wanda’s own maternal instinct.
Within minutes, then, Pit Bull and Parolees workers Marcel and Lizzy were sent off with Miss Wanda to try and find the puppies. And, heartbreakingly, the rescue team would describe the poor pooch as “frantic” to find her babies. Whatever move she made, though, the pair would have to follow; the new mom was the key to reaching the puppies before the search ended in tragedy.
Furthermore, as Miss Wanda was swollen with milk, the puppies must have been young; it was unlikely, then, that they’d survive on their own for long. And things weren’t helped by the fact that the rescue team only had one potential clue to their whereabouts: the address where the stray had been picked up. Alarmingly, though, animal control hadn’t reported any baby dogs being in the area.
With nothing else for it, then, the team set out with the new mommy to the area where she had been found, while hoping that the puppies were not far. Plus, given that the young babies had seemingly been left to fend for themselves, the duo were understandably concerned. “What I’m worried about is how long they’ve been separated for,” Lizzy admitted on the show.
“If these puppies haven’t been weaned, they wouldn’t be able to survive very long without their mom’s milk. They have no other way to get food, water… no other way to stay hydrated. It’s actually really important we find them as soon as possible,” she continued.
Still, they had one special weapon in their quest: Miss Wanda herself. After all, even if the puppies had moved, she might still be able to track them down from their scent. And to ensure that she could sniff and roam as much as possible, Lizzy and Marcel put Miss Wanda on a long leash.
At first, then, Miss Wanda took them to an old derelict house. Perhaps, the rescue team thought, the puppies might be under the shack. But, sadly, there was no sign of them. “I started to think that maybe someone had took them and just abandoned her,” Lizzy confessed.
“Young puppies in the country with no mom are probably not going to survive,” she explained. “With the parasites and the snakes, there are a number of things that can happen. There’s no way these puppies [could] survive for much longer and we [couldn’t] find them.”
Given that Miss Wanda had stopped at the house, however, it seemed a good lead. But despite the rescue team’s painstaking efforts, no puppies materialized. Just when it looked like the babies were lost, though, they got a break. One of the local residents had witnessed the search.
The woman led the rescuers to another house nearby, while also revealing to them that it had been about a month since Miss Wanda had given birth. Suddenly, then, the dog went under that house. And, sure enough, yapping noises came from the shadows; the babies had been found.
It was fortunate, though, that the onlooker had spoken up, since the poor pups were starving. As a result, they instantly started feeding from mommy. And after letting the babies have their fill, Marcel and Lizzy managed to coax Miss Wanda back out into the open with treats. With her safely in a pet carrier, they could then start retrieving the puppies.
Unluckily for the rescue team, however, most of the little dogs were too scared to come out from the shadows. And their situation was made all the perilous due to the fact that the area was full of biting fire ants. Upon hearing the local resident’s voice, though, something incredible happened: the pups started to walk out by themselves. That is, with the exception of one, who remained hidden under the house.
Marcel, however, volunteered to brave the fire ant nest and crawled under the house after the puppy. And the choice between biting insects and a friendly human was a no-brainer for the baby dog. Shortly after its rescue, then, all four puppies – three girls and a boy – were safe with their mommy.
“Right now we’re keeping Wanda and the puppies in a private room at our warehouse. That way they’re protected from anything they could catch that would be harmful to them,” Lizzy said on the show. “They’re healthy, happy.” Thankfully, the rescuers also seemed confident that they would find good homes for the dogs.
“Wanda did a fantastic job taking care of her puppies even though she was starving herself,” Lizzy continued. “She’s a little malnourished so she just needs food, water and a comfy place to sleep.” And the name of the woman who helped the rescuers find the puppies? It was Miss Wanda.
“We decided to name the momma dog after the woman who was very helpful pointing us in the right direction. I’m so relieved that [mommy] has found her puppies,” Lizzy concluded. “It was probably one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen to [witness that mothering instinct] kick in.”