Graham Barrett lives in the city of Richmond in British Columbia, Canada, and regularly likes to walk through the woods near his home. But one evening in May, after the area’s warmest day of 2017 so far, his enjoyment was swiftly curtailed when he heard the most disturbing sound.
Barrett is the owner of two dogs whom he often exercises in the woods. And while these strolls are usually fairly uneventful, he knew there was nothing usual about their walk that evening when the three of them heard that sound. To Barrett, it sounded like the muffled whimpers of an animal in need.
So after looking down an embankment to a clump of trees where the noise seemed to have come from, Barrett could make out a black and blue suitcase. And the suitcase was moving.
In that instant, Barrett realized to his alarm that there was something alive in the suitcase. Remembering that he had come out without his cellphone, the dog-walker instead attracted the attention of a passerby and asked them to urgently contact the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Frustratingly, however, they were unable to get through to the SPCA. So while at a loss, and knowing that time was a factor, Barrett decided he would have to take the suitcase home. As a result, he carefully wheeled the suitcase along with him on the five-minute journey to his house, trying his utmost not to upset whatever poor creature was trapped within.
Once Barrett was home, though, he investigated the suitcase properly. It was of a medium size, had a hard shell and was secured with two padlocks. Considering this, and where it was found, it was obvious someone wanted whatever it contained not to get out and not to be discovered.
Then Barrett decided to contact the town’s Mounties. But while he was waiting for the police to arrive, he managed to break open one of the locks. At this point, he began to feel anxious about the suitcase’s contents.
“I was thinking ‘I hope this is a domestic animal and nothing more dangerous or sinister, such as a person,’” he later told the local newspaper, the Richmond News.
Nevertheless, the brave Barrett continued in his attempt to break the suitcase open. It had been such a hot day that whatever it was inside must have been suffering terribly. And while the other lock was stubborn, his efforts eventually revealed what was had been imprisoned within. “I poked a hole big enough for air to get in. It looked like a dog inside,” he added to the Richmond News.
When the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrived at the scene, they helped Barrett finally break the suitcase open. The moment they did so, out jumped a terrified and filthy apricot-colored miniature poodle.
“My wife immediately scooped him up. We gave him some food. He ate it so fast, it seemed like he hadn’t eaten in a week,” Barrett revealed. “He seemed perfectly fine apart from that, even though it was very hot out there. I then showed police where I found him and they took him to RAPS.”
Once at RAPS – the Richmond Animal Protection Society – staff named the shaken dog Donut. They discovered he was a male and approximately six years of age. Later, the organization gave an update on his condition via a statement on its website.
It said that the dog had been found covered in feces and urine but was otherwise in “good health.” It added that the animal had been well looked after and recently groomed. Heartbreakingly, though, the organization added, “We believe he had been in the suitcase, on the hottest day of the year so far, for three to six hours.”
Furthermore, experienced RAPS staff members were positive that whoever imprisoned the dog had done it intentionally. “It had two different sets of locks on it, which is just crazy,” RAPS chief Eyal Lichtmann told animal-themed website The Dodo. “It’s one thing to lock a dog in a suitcase, another thing to double-lock it, right?”
“The suitcase is being held by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as evidence in the hopes that it can help apprehend whoever is responsible,” the statement on the RAPS website added. “RAPS has notified the animal cruelty division of the BC [British Columbia] SPCA. There is no reason why this type of cruelty need happen.”
However, what had happened to Donut was far from clear. Because the dog was so evidently well groomed, Lichtmann and his staff were certain he was loved before he was imprisoned in the suitcase. Consequently, they believed it may not have been his owners who ditched him.
“The minute he recovered, he was just the friendliest, happiest dog. He was very well socialized,” Litchmann explained to The Dodo. “We’re not even sure if the actual owners of Donut know what’s going on, and that’s why we’ve done a media campaign to see if we can find the owners. This sounds more like a revenge situation because the dog’s so well kept.”
Meanwhile, as police began looking into his past, Donut settled into life at the RAPS shelter. And, he seemed to rather like his new surroundings. “He’s getting a lot of loving from staff and volunteers and a lot of playtime,” Lichtmann said. “He’s in doggy Disneyland.”
If they eventually track down Donut’s owners, the Mounties and RAPS will be sure to check them out thoroughly before returning their dog. However, if they fail to find his owners the shelter will put Donut up for adoption. And there is already one person who has taken a keen interest in the little poodle.
Donut’s original rescuer, Barrett, would like him to join his family. But seeing as he already has two dogs of his own, his daughter would be the one to sign the adoption papers. And, if she does, the intention is to rename the toy poodle Lucky – in a nod to his incredibly fortunate escape from his suitcase prison.