When he was leaving for work earlier this month, Luis Castellanos noticed something odd when he looked out at the island in Northern California’s Watsonville Slough. A dog, alone. He thought it was “peculiar,” according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
Later, his wife and kids got a better look what was occupying the island, and they could tell the dog must be in trouble. Castellanos called the authorities, and Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter’s field service manager Todd Stosuy showed up. He quickly realized he needed a boat. He called the Watsonville Fire Department for backup, and a few firefighters showed up — without a boat.
Castellanos got out his inflatable boat.
Firefighter John Stone paddled and Stosuy navigated. They made their way to the island but couldn’t find the dog. They searched for 30 minutes and then went home. A short time later, Castellanos saw the dog lying on the shore in the duckweed.
And not a moment too soon. The dog was very confused and lethargic, and very, very skinny. Stosuy and Stone returned, then paddled to the island and quickly located and scooped up the dog. He was in bad shape — “severely emaciated,” according to the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter’s Facebook page.
“It looked like it had been there forever,” said Fire Capt. Corey Schaefer. “It looked pathetic and skinny. It was withering away.”
Stosuy estimates the dog had been surviving on the island for a full month. He said the dog is an Australian Shepherd mix, 12 or 13 years old — and was down to just 30 pounds. A healthy Shepherd at that age might weigh twice as much.
How does a dog survive a month on an unpopulated island? Stosuy found his source of food: bird eggs. Lots of them. He found the remains of more than 100.
The dog isn’t out of danger yet
“He’s not a full spry guy at this point, but he’s walking on his own,” said Stosuy.
He predicts the dog will have ongoing health problems, but he should be able to have a fine life with the right person or family.
“This dog was literally starving to death on the island, and now he has a second chance at life,” he said.