Animal care staff in Rancho Santa Fe got a little surprise Monday morning when they found a puppy smaller than the size of a water dish in the back lobby of the Helen Woodward Animal Center.
The weeks old puppy had been abandoned by a blonde woman caught on surveillance video, who left her in an overnight crate to be assigned to another dog.
The woman had left two other dogs in her car while she walked into the building to abandon Piccolo.
The woman left no note or information for the dog dubbed ‘Piccolo’ by staff (meaning small in Italian), who was still too young to feed herself without her mother’s milk.
At less than one pound, Piccolo was far too young to survive on her own. Center adoptions staff immediately placed her in an intensive care incubator to get her body heat back to where it needed to be. While her exam showed no emergency medical care was necessary, she was suffering the stress of being separated from her mother and seemed unsure of how to eat without her mother's milk. Assisting Piccolo with learning how to eat formula and how to take water from a syringe to keep her hydrated has been the primary concern since her arrival at the center.
"There was so much confusion about where she had come from," stated Helen Woodward Animal Inventory Manager LaBeth Thompson. "Four of our staff members were checking around the building to see if Piccolo was one of ours and trying to figure out how she had ended up in Bruce's crate. We have such a regular morning routine with feeding and caring for the pets and it was so unusual to find a puppy that no one was familiar with."
Abandoning any animal without care on public or private property is a misdemeanor.
"We understand that whoever did this may have had good intentions," explained Helen Woodward Animal Services Manager Ed Farrelly. "But leaving such a young puppy in a place we may not have found it for many hours is not a way to ensure this puppy's health. Its body temperature could have dropped dangerously low and it could have been severely malnourished and dehydrated by the time we found it."
Piccolo is under constant care and each evening vet technician Shea Halle takes her home to monitor her health. Piccolo shows clear signs of missing her mom. She snuggles and nuzzles into Halle's neck, and tries to nurse ‘like a kitten.’ Care staff are sure of one thing – for such a little puppy she has created a big stir.
Piccolo should be up for adoption when she has reached eight weeks old. For more information on adopting her go to the center’s website, contact the Adoptions Department at 858-756-4117 ext. 1, or stop by the center at 6461 El Apajo Road in Rancho Santa Fe.