Roping to the rescue
Thu, 04/14/2022 - 1:34pm admin
Beki Groenwald TPD Staff
LIME SPRINGS - It wasn’t Will Hinck’s first rodeo, but it was the first one in which he roped a dog.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Back on Tuesday, March 29, Marty Beck saw a small, black dog running around on Quail Avenue in rural Lime Springs, so he gave Kelsey Schumacher a call.
Schumacher and her husband, Matty, are well-known, local animal rescuers. Over the years, they’ve rescued everything from cats and dogs to horses and wildlife. For 17 years, Kelsey worked at Noah’s Bark, a rescue organization in Fillmore County, Minn. Now, she volunteers with both The Humane Society of Northeast Iowa and Heart Animal Rescue, a foster-based animal rescue organization.
Upon receiving word of a hurt, scared, lost dog running amok, Schumacher immediately called Julie Kriener, the Animal Care Director at Heart; and together, they coordinated the deployment of three humane live traps in the immediate area where the dog had been seen.
The traps were checked three times a day to insure no animal was caught and left out in the cold and often rainy weather. And those traps worked like gangbusters – on everything except the intended target.
“There were critters in the traps every day,” Schumacher said. “Sometimes even multiple times in a day.” They caught possums, cats and even a skunk.
One cat, in fact, became a regular. She was trapped multiple times, as she apparently enjoyed snacking on the bait, then waiting for Schumacher to show up at 4:30 a.m. for the first check of the day to give her a ride back home (which Schumacher dutifully did).
But the little black dog proved elusive. When he was spotted near a deer carcass on the north side of Quail Avenue, Schumacher moved one of the traps to that location. Later, the dog was seen laying next to that trap, as well as running in a nearby cornfield.
On April 3, with the dog located in the Schmitz’s cornfield between Quail and Pine, approximately 100 yards west of the Lime Springs substation, Schumacher and her fellow dog rescue volunteers, Johnny and Amanda Schmitz, jumped into action.
And here’s where the rodeo comes in.
For more than three hours, these volunteers worked to catch the dog, but the animal was too fearful to allow anyone to come close. He was running on three legs, with one rear leg obviously injured, but still faster than his dedicated pursuers, even in the rough terrain of the cornfield.
At one point, Schumacher remembers, the dog was running directly at her, but veered away when she shifted her stance, crinkling dead cornstalks underfoot. That is when Schumacher realized the dog was blind. In an effort to get closer to the skittish animal, “I kicked off my shoes and was literally running barefoot through the cornfield,” Kelsey said. “I got all muddy. I’m sure people thought I was crazy.”
After two hours, the dog and the volunteers were equally exhausted. “We kept rounding him up to keep him away from the blacktop,” Schumacher said. But no matter how hard or what they tried, no one could get their hands on him.
Then, in hour three, Schumacher had an idea. She started calling roping friends, most of whom were busy at the C5 arena in Decorah, but Will Hinck was home and willing to help.
Fifteen-year-old Hinck holds national and world championships in youth rodeo. Schumacher asked him, “Have you ever roped a dog?”
“No,” Hinck replied. “But I can.”
With Hinck’s step-dad, Allen Stoddard, driving their Razor 4x4, Hinck sat in the dump bucket, holding onto the roll bar with one hand and throwing his rope with the other. In three or four tries, success!
Volunteers immediately moved in and carefully transferred the frightened dog to a live trap to secure him for transport. He was then driven to Julie Kriener who took him in as an emergency foster dog.
Once the dog was safe, Schumacher spoke to neighbors in the area and some local Amish who said the dog had been running free for at least three weeks. Schumacher found evidence that he was sleeping in a sink hole near the deer carcass, and that he’d been running through the woods north on Quail Avenue and crossing the blacktop to the Schmitz’s cornfield many times during his long, scary adventure.
During his time on his own, the little black dog, who is right around 20 pounds and is estimated to be approximately one-year-old, incurred a fractured hock joint with gunshot fragments showing in the x-ray. “[It] likely happened at least a few weeks ago, according to the healing of the skin,” Kriener said. In addition, the dog is blind from bi-lateral cataracts.
“We are in touch with a couple of surgeons to see if he would be a good candidate for plating his leg versus amputation,” Kriener reported. “We will also be seeing an ophthalmologist to see if surgery can restore his sight. It’s going to be a long road, fixing this young man up and earning his trust; but we will do all we can to help him make the rest of his life great.”
This is exactly the kind of thing Heart Animal Rescue does. Animals in need don’t respect county boundaries, so Heart goes wherever the animals need them. As they say, “Helping animals is helping animals.”
In addition to their rescue work, Heart has several foster homes located in Howard County and also provides TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) services to help control the feral cat population in both rural and city areas.
While the little, black dog recovers in his new foster home, where he will be warm, well fed, loved and safe, he’s also earned a new name. Heart Animal Rescue has decided to dub him “Will,” in honor of the young rodeo star who saved him from whatever fate would have otherwise befallen him.
If you’d like to follow Will’s progress or learn more about Heart Animal Rescue, you can find them at Heart Animal Rescue on Facebook or www.heartrescueteam.com. Donations to help fund Will’s medical treatment are always welcome.