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Dogged determination saves wasteland dog

AN ABANDONED dog that lived rough on wasteland by a building site was saved from starvation and possible death thanks to the combined efforts of building site workers and two ‘good Samaritan’ animal rescuers.

Two months ago animal charity worker Catherine Moore received a call from a lorry driver who was making regular deliveries to a construction site for a hydroelectric plant in Carrington, near Manchester to say that he had seen a stray dog on and near the site.

According to workers on the site, the small black dog was a stray, living rough in the acres of wasteground behind the hydroelectric plant. Workmen on the site were feeding the dog – noticed to be a bitch - but she would not allow herself to be caught.

The RSPCA and local dog wardens had been informed but could not help, the wardens being unable to catch her and the RSPCA saying that as she was a stray, it was not their responsibility to attempt to capture the dog, this being the dog wardens’ duty. The lorry driver was concerned for the dog’s welfare, as the hydro electric plant was due to go ‘live’ in late September, and not only would be a dangerous environment for the dog to wander in and out of, but would also be surrounded by an electric fence. So he contacted Catherine via a notice posted in a local veterinary surgery, for Warrington Animal Welfare, the animal charity Catherine helps run.

"I went down to the construction site that night in August," Catherine told OUR DOGS. "Even in summer it was an incredibly desolate area, a scrubland full of run down buildings, littered with rubble. I gathered from the workmen on the hyrdo electric plant construction site that the dog was turning up twice a day to be fed and that she appeared to be a Cairn Terrier cross. So I arranged regular visits to the site with my friend Julia Morgan of Greyhound and Lurcher Rescue in order to catch the dog. Although she’d come near to take food, she was very nervous and it became very clear that we would not catch her outside the building compound. Once she got onto the wasteground, she was away."

Catherine and Julia formulated a plan with the men on the site. The dog would never take a chance while she was being fed regularly, so would not linger inside the compound longer than she needed to. She was also aware that Catherine and Julia were trying to catch her.

So the workmen were persuaded to cut her food in order to make her enter the compound looking for it. Initially, the friends tried drugging her food, but she still escaped through a hole in the fence onto the wasteground, where she would no doubt sleep off the effects of the drugs.

"I think the workmen were a bit reluctant to stop feeding her or to try to restrain her," says Catherine. "But we managed to persuaded them that if she was not caught soon, she would undoubtedly be seriously injured or worse when the plant came on line. So they agreed, and the trap was set."

One day the men managed to entice the dog into the compound and then carefully blocked off the hole in the fence whilst she was being fed drugged food. They contacted Julia, who was ‘on duty’ that day and she hurried to the site and waited until dog was drowsy and disorientated in an alleyway between two buildings, and then she grabbed her.

"Her initial reaction was to bite Julia, but once a lead was put on her, she froze and shook," says Catherine. She was taken to boarding kennels that we use for some of rescues, but incredibly she started screaming and howling when Julia tried to leave her there, so she went home with Julia – and now she’s staying as Julia’s own dog!

The little bitch has now settled down and is exceedingly loving and friendly, more than happy to be made a fuss of by Catherine and any other visitors, is clean in the house and sleeps on Julia’s bed.

"Julia christened her Caitlin, which is the Irish version of my name," says Catherine, "although she’s called Cait for short. We took to show the workmen at the site how well she was getting on and they were delighted to see her. She must have recognised where she was, but she was fine and made no attempt to run off. but fine. She was particularly fussed over by Les the site Gatehouse man, who did most of feeding when she was a stray. We think Cait’s approximately four years old. She’d obviously been abandoned, possibly by travellers that had camped on the wasteground previously.

"Still, she’s healthy, vaccinated and microchipped now and none the worse for her adventures."