When Eldad Hagar, founder of Hope for Paws, got a call about some homeless dogs living by some train tracks, he knew something needed to be done.
Hagar and his workers were contacted by two women who work nearby and have been feeding the dogs for two years. But any time someone would go near the dogs, they would get frightened. Hagar and his team were trying to think of new ways to save the dogs without spooking them.
"If you make any move towards them, they run across the railroad tracks and disappear," Hagar said.
But when Hagar got a call saying one of the dogs had given birth to puppies, now he knew it was time to step in. The puppies were all hiding in a cave and one of the women sat at the entrance to the cave, watching them come in and out so she could count how many there were.
Hagar and his team tried using bits of cheeseburger to coax the dogs out of the cave, but they were so scared of human interaction. Eventually Hagar was able to grab one of the puppies, but the rest retreated back because they were so terrified.
The entrance to the cave was extremely small, but Hagar knew he would have to crawl inside in order to save the puppies.
Hagar got as far as he could before seeing three small puppies huddled in fear.
The puppies were all so terrified to be touched by human hands, they cried in fear until they finally realized they were safe.
"They don't understand what we're doing there, for all they know we're predators trying to hurt them," Hagar said.
It got a little trickier, though, when it was realized the rest of the puppies were much deeper into the cave.
"I crawled in 6 feet and then there's a left turn that leads to a larger chamber," Hagar said. "I was able to get three but then the rest were in that chamber and they were so deep. Because the turn was so sharp I couldn't get any equipment back there."
But he wasn't about to give up on these animals in need. Hagar grabbed a shovel and started digging.
"It took hours and hours because we had to go slow and try not to shake the earth," Hagar said. "At the end of the rescue I was almost deaf in one ear from all the dirt falling into it. Every time a train went by you could feel the whole ground shaking. It was a pretty scary experience."
After digging, digging, and more digging, Hagar finally found the ninth and final puppy, the runt of the litter.
The rescue took almost 8 hours, but everyone is doing great and is safe and sound in foster homes.
"The puppies are doing amazing, it's ridiculous," Hagar said. "They're just so happy, they're the happiest dogs in the world. They're also the quietest pack of puppies, as if their mom had tried to tell them, 'Be quiet, there are coyotes around here,' back when they lived in the cave. They're very stealthy."
All the puppies have been rescued, and now the goal is to get the three other female dogs once and for all.