She was cold, wet, and cute as a button when rescued from the streets of Houston, and thanks to a group of animal activists and filmmakers, the whole world can now see the moment when Pumpkin Pie was pulled out of the rain and into a new life.
“We came across Pumpkin Pie just out in the street, and it’s just so common. That day we filmed three different episodes just like that,” explains Tom McPhee, the filmmaker behind the World Animal Awareness Society, which documents the stories of forgotten animals like Pumpkin Pie in cities around the world.
Parts of Pumpkin Pie’s story are sadly common, but when watching her rescue from the rain, viewers can see what the filmmakers did: that this was one special pup who needed a miracle.
The adorable dog’s rescue is part of a series of YouTube videos focusing on Houston, Texas. The city has faced heavy rainfall and flooding in recent months, something that’s hampered rescue organizations that focus on helping its homeless dogs.
“It’s been raining non-stop,” says Kelle Mann Davis, of the Forgotten Dogs of the 5th Ward Project. Her organization delivers food to homeless and feral dogs in the poverty stricken neighborhood. Volunteers catalog the condition of the dogs, recruit foster homes, and come back for the animals they can save.
In the YouTube video, Davis (who was in the area that day to offer assistance to a woman whose unaltered dogs were known to run at large) can be seen exiting a vehicle under a drizzling sky to tempt the 14-week-old rescuers would soon name Pumpkin Pie with some kibble. Davis didn’t have a foster home lined up when she saw the little mutt, but she knew she couldn’t leave Pumpkin Pie behind.
“We have a rule that we don’t leave puppies or critical dogs that may die, so we just say a really quick prayer, and you know what — it always works out. Somebody always steps up.”
Luckily for Pumpkin Pie, Davis stepped up to her and convinced the sad little mutt to trust a human. When watching the video, the wet dog is impossible to classify, and impossible not to love.
“She looked like a miniature Collie. I think we ended up putting Terrier-mix. She’s a smaller breed dog, she won’t be big.”
According to Davis, the film crew likely came across the mini-mutt not long after the puppy was dumped on the streets.
“We were just thankful that we found her because puppies don’t last very long out there, especially solitary puppies. They go downhill very quickly. Toxic mange is rampant, most of the dogs we get have it,” explains Davis.
The veteran rescuer says Pumpkin Pie was in better shape than most of the animals who end up with the Forgotten Dogs of the 5th Ward Project. She was skinny, wet, afraid, and covered in fleas, but Pumpkin Pie wasn’t suffering hair loss, and hadn’t experienced violence at the hands of humans.
“No broken bones, no bullet wounds, so she was actually one of the lucky ones,” says Davis.
“Probably 80 percent of our adult dogs are found with bullets or pellets in them, that we find on X-ray. It’s because they’re so hungry they’re getting in people’s trash and people are shooting them.”
Filmmaker McPhee, who first saw Pumpkin Pie through the lens of his camera, is happy the young pup was spared the fate so many of the older dogs in the area suffer. He says that efforts were made to find out if Pumpkin Pie was a lost dog who had a family somewhere, but no one was found. McPhee says he can’t believe that the adorable little creature was left out in the rain for as long as she was.
“How do people just kind of walk by? It’s one thing if it’s a wild animal — but dogs are really classified differently and have a different relationship with people. We’re always surprised when an animal like this is just kind of overlooked, and just allowed to be out.”
According to Davis, the wet weather has only gotten worse since Pumpkin Pie’s rescue earlier this spring, and the dogs in the 5th Ward are now spending more time under buildings — away from the eyes of rescuers who could help them.
“If there’s a break in the weather, we go when we can,” says Davis.
The rain continues, and so does the story of Pumpkin Pie. Where McPhee’s documentary video ends, the next chapter of this lucky puppy’s life begins. When the camera stopped rolling, she was whisked away to get her shots and get spayed. A foster parent who had previously hosted 5th Ward dogs stepped forward to take her in, and Pumpkin Pie stayed in care for just one month before making her final move.
“She’s in a forever home now,” says Davis. “Her new name is Lucille.”
The puppy formerly known as Pumpkin Pie is staying out of the spotlight these days, enjoying the life of a pampered pet. Instead of growing up as another unwanted and diseased nuisance dog in the struggling neighbourhood, she is happy, healthy, and loved. Her story proves that miracles can happen when animals in need get the attention they deserve. She now has a roof over her adorable puppy head, but for so many dogs in Houston’s 5th Ward, the rain continues.
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About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.