Jeanette Lozano got to save the innocent ones.
A total of 28 innocent ones. Puppies, ranging in age from 8 to 14 weeks, were part of a bizarre incident that happened in Mariposa County in early December.
Teresa Fish, a Lake Don Pedro woman who had about 16 adult dogs and their puppies, had her animals seized by the Mariposa County Sheriff's Department after the adult dogs escaped and mauled two horses on Dec. 2. The horses were so badly injured they had to be euthanized.
Although the adult dogs, because they were livestock killers, were destroyed, the woman also had a bunch of puppies that weren't involved in the mauling.
"We have three litters of puppies from the incident," said Lozano, the shelter manager for the Mariposa SPCA.
The puppies, all mixed-breed, were part of a pack of dogs owned by Fish. The adult dogs escaped from their pen on Dec. 2, and attacked two horses that were also on the property. Fish owned the horses. When Mariposa County sheriff's deputies responded to a call from neighbors, the dogs went after the deputies.
Mariposa sheriff's Capt. Byron Robles, head of animal control, said the dogs were so aggressive that two of them had to be put down on the scene. When the deputies showed up, the dogs took off into the hills. Because the dogs were on the loose for a while, Mariposa County Sheriff Brian Muller asked Lake Don Pedro Elementary School, a quarter of a mile from the scene, to be on lockdown for much of the day on Dec. 2 while a search for the dogs was done.
Robles said Fish has been fully compliant with the sheriff's office. She has kept ownership of two adult dogs, but the rest of the adults were euthanized. The puppies she had were also seized and sent to the SPCA shelter.
"We've sent the investigation to the district attorney on Dec. 11 to see if any criminal charges will be filed," Robles said.
Lozano said one of the problems with the incident is that Mariposa County has no limit on the number of dogs and cats people can own. "This woman wasn't a bad person," Lozano said. "She rescued dogs from the sides of roads; she was trying to do good. But she never spayed or neutered any of them."
With almost 30 puppies to take care of at the shelter, Lozano said the small facility is financially strapped. Only 20 dogs are supposed to live at the shelter, but the county has given Lozano the OK to keep the extra puppies until they're adopted.
Because the Mariposa SPCA spays and neuters all animals before they are adopted, the first puppies from the seizure won't be available for adoption until after Jan. 8, when they undergo spaying or neutering.
But interested adopters are welcome to come to see the puppies now and put a deposit on one they may like, Lozano said.
In the meantime, the puppies are eating about two big bags of puppy chow a day, and the shelter is scrambling for donations.
"We are looking for help with spaying and neutering," Lozano said. And any other donations, such as dog food, are also welcome, but potential donors should contact the shelter to see what type of puppy food to purchase.
Lozano said all the puppies are healthy and socialized, and should make good pets. "They're all Heinz 57 puppies," she said, "but they all seem to have good personalities."
Lozano is sad that 16 adult dogs had to be euthanized because they were stock killers, but she feels good about how things have turned out for the puppies.
"These pups were lucky because we could save them," she said. "We saved the innocent."
Reporter Carol Reiter can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To help a puppy
To make donations, or find out about adopting one of the puppies, call the Mariposa SPCA at (209) 966-3615 or visit the shelter at 5599 Highway 49 North in Mariposa. To see the puppies online, go to www.mariposaspca.org.