The life of a stray dog living on the streets of Los Angeles can be as good as merciless. At worst, a homeless dog may end up scavenging food in the most obscure, inhospitable parts of the urban infrastructure. Faced with the dangers of traffic, parasites, filth, and other hazards over months or years, they end up mangy and maimed beyond words.
At best (and only if they are lucky), they may be seen by humans who are caring enough to offer time and resources to their aid. And if they know who to call for help, there may be hope in store for them in the end—if it’s not already too late.
Echo the dog was one of the lucky ones. Even though he was hit by a car and had his front paw badly broken, he had the good fortune of getting noticed by a couple of good Samaritans who were acquainted with the now-famous Hope For Paws dog rescue organization, headed by LA resident Eldad Hagar.
It’s not clear when Echo was struck by the car—some dogs live years with broken limbs—but he seemed to be in a lot of pain.
Hagar and fellow dog rescuer Loreta Frankonyte responded to the call and found the dog resting on a front lawn in an LA neighborhood where they met up with the good Samaritans.
“He’s got a bad limp, so he’s not running fast,” one man told Hagar.
“I know, but I learned that even on three legs they can run faster than I can,” Hagar replied. Hagar has been saving stray dogs for ten years.
Approaching and apprehending a dog on the loose is always the most challenging part of any rescue, Hagar knew. And that could take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days to achieve. Over the years, Hagar and his crew had picked up numerous dog catching strategies, among which were using plastic child barriers and, chiefly of all, food as incentive.
They tried the barrier strategy first, to try to wall him in, but as soon as the team approached, the dog hobbling on three legs quickly limped off, flanking them. It was clear that he was mobile after all, and now he was loose in the neighborhood.
But Loreta was quick on her feet, though, and overshot Echo by running down the street and then intercepted him. Yet it was Loreta’s gentle nature that allowed her to pacify Echo, and she quickly employed their second strategy: cheeseburgers. Strays’ hunger is always their weakness and a sure way to lure them in.
Soon, she had Echo eating out of her hand, but just when she was about to loop her “lucky leash” around his neck, a loud vehicle startled him, and he ran off again.
Hagar tried to loop him with his snare, but he missed, and he took off running after Echo into the neighborhood.
Eventually, they spotted Echo hiding under a car and Loreta tried a second time to lure and leash him, and this time it worked. Risking a bite, she grabbed him by the scruff, got the leash around his neck, and carried him back to their SUV. The team knows that a moment of stress during a rescue is worth a happy new life off the streets afterward.
When they brought Echo to the vet, they realized, sadly, that his leg had been too badly crushed to be saved, and it had to be amputated. The good news is that dogs really do not fret about such losses the way humans tend to. A loving owner, food, and a home is more than enough to make any dog happy.
Thankfully, the Lovejoy Foundation took Echo into foster care, but he is still looking for a caring human to take him into their home—his forever home. The most beautiful part of any rescue, though, is the change they undergo afterward; they go from fear and hurt to love and happiness. But to be the one to cause that happiness and to know that you are responsible for that hope and love is the greatest reward of all.