VERDI (CBS13) — It looked like a daunting, never-ending task as a frightened puppy lost in the wilderness refused to come to rescuers.
First spooked from its owners by a train horn, it would then spend 70 days on a cold snowy hillside near the Verdi-Truckee area. Surrounded by rocks, trails and trees, the skittish puppy was too scared to trust anyone. The eight-month-old German shepherd mix, Via, continuously dodged rescuers until Tahoe PAWS and TLC 4 Furry Friends got involved.
“Good samaritans, saints, just amazing individuals who don’t know me, didn’t know our dog,” said Via’s owner, Kelly Humphreys.
Humphreys says her youngest son was devastated after their new puppy ran off scared while they were hiking. It took a team of volunteers snowshoeing equipment up the hillside through snow and freezing temperatures so they could build a trap and set up cameras to track Via.
“Here I am trying to change 14 batteries in each trail cam, and you’re trying to change them and the wind is blowing,” said Tahoe PAWS volunteer Steve McKnight.
“And then we stuck sticks around the camera and duct tape,” said Tahoe PAWS volunteer JoAnne McKnight.
It was a day-and-night mission working to gain Via’s trust.
“Every night, she was waiting for her mom to show up. And so that was really hard to see. I hate seeing animals go through that especially when it’s so cold and windy,” said Wendy Jones, Tahoe PAWS and TLC 4 Furry Friends executive director and founder.
It was an emotional rescue to ease a puppy’s fears, but it finally brought her home.
“It was real rewarding doing that for that little dog. It just meant everything to us to help that little dog,” Steve McKnight said.
“It was inspiring and renewed my faith in humanity really,” Humphreys said.
Tahoe PAWS and TLC 4 Furry Friends is a non-profit reuniting lost pets with their families year-round. January tends to be one of the busiest months with fireworks scaring off animals and many getting lost while hiking or skiing with their owners.