For three long years, Mr. Hobo has been St. John’s most elusive resident. Everyone in the small Canadian town knows the little Beagle, and many have tried to rescue him from the local landfill where he roams.
But, try as they might, no one could successfully catch Mr. Hobo — that is, until now. Thanks to the efforts of a small group of rescuers, the landfill staff, and the tasty allure of roast chicken, it is likely that Mr. Hobo will have a real home for the holidays.
Mr. Hobo wasn’t always homeless; a family once adopted the 5-year-old Beagle from the local SPCA. But only days after they brought him home, the furry Houdini made a break for it and found his way to the St. John’s junkyard. He’s been living there ever since. It wasn’t until he set up camp in the landfill that he earned the name Mr. Hobo, given to him affectionately by the St. John’s Humane Services staff.
After numerous attempts to trap and catch Mr. Hobo ended with the crafty Beagle running off into the woods, and when it was determined that even the use of a small tranquilizer dart gun would be too dangerous, officials decided their only shot at capturing the elusive hound would be to include mild sedatives and roast chicken in their rescue mission.
St. John city veterinarian Dr. Heather Hillier was recruited to help with the operation. She and her assistant Rose Gillingham prepared chicken laced with enough sedatives to at least slow Mr. Hobo down and set off for the junkyard. The pair set a humane trap and attempted to use the chicken to lure the pup into the trap.
“We were throwing chicken out the window of the van,” Hillier explains. “The first piece had the medication in it. He gobbled that up so we knew he got the medication. We continued to feed him to keep an eye on him.”
After tracking Mr. Hobo for about an hour, Hillier and Gillingham noticed that the Beagle looked a bit sleepy, but nowhere near as sleepy as they would need him to be in order to successfully catch the little guy.
“We’ve been following him for so long and we’ve been getting calls about him,” Gillingham said. “It was very frustrating when we thought he was getting a little bit drowsy, but we still couldn’t get him.”
Disappointed but not discouraged, the pair decided to leave the trap they’d brought in the woods surrounding the dump, covering it with blankets and leaves as a disguise. Hillier, Gillingham, and the landfill staff continued to leave chicken leading towards and inside of the trap to encourage Mr. Hobo to step inside.
Finally, on November 14, his longtime caretakers and attempted rescuers got the call they had been waiting for — Mr. Hobo was inside of the trap, and, against all odds, their mission was accomplished.
St. John’s Animal Control officer Mike Joyce, who had put chicken out for Mr. Hobo and set the trap door to close that morning, was thrilled when he got the news.
“We were trying for so long and it was a pleasure to get him this time of year,” Joyce said, “especially with the cold weather coming on.”
Mr. Hobo is now resting comfortably at the St. John’s Humane Services facility. McGrath and the staff there were initially afraid that, due to the Beagle’s limited contact with humans, he might be unadoptable, but luckily he is starting to warm up to people, she said.
Dr. Hillier was able to examine Mr. Hobo shortly after his rescue and she says he is a healthy little guy.
“He’s a big boy, Beagle wise” she remarked, as Mr. Hobo is a bit pudgy, “and other than smelling like a landfill, he was in good health. We’ve since got some vaccines into him and a really good de-worming protocol.”
McGrath plans to keep Mr. Hobo at the Humane Services facility for the next week or so, and if he still hasn’t been adopted by then, he will be signed over to Beagle Paws, a local Beagle rescue group. But McGrath has hope that the dog she’d tried to catch for so long will have a home soon.
“We’re hoping that it won’t be very long and instead of sleeping in the landfill, he’ll be sleeping on the foot of someone’s bed,” she said. “He deserves that.”
Source: The Telegram