Elusive Shih Tzu rescued after two years on the lam

A little Shih Tzu is finally safe and sound today after spending two long years fending for himself on the streets of Franconia in Fairfax County, Virginia.

Biscuit when he was first captured (left), and after he was shaved and treated. (Photo credit: Fairfax County Police)

The pint-sized but street smart Shih Tzu, nicknamed Biscuit by the children who watched the little dog evade capture in their neighborhood time and time again, is now resting comfortably and acclimating to his new life among humans.

Stories of Biscuit’s life before the streets vary; some say he was left behind after the death of his owner, while others swear his former owners moved away and left the tan and white Shih Tzu behind. Though his origins will likely always remain a mystery, one thing is certain: Biscuit is one crafty pup. Biscuit managed Fairfax County Police Department’s Animal Control unit on a months-long game of cat and mouse — or, more appropriately, officer and dog.

Animal Control Officer Enna Lugo has tracked Biscuit’s whereabouts for the past several months, making it her personal mission to bring the 10-pound pup in safely.

According to a department press release, rescuing Biscuit became a community-wide effort, with everyone from private citizens to animal rescue groups pitching in to try and help Officer Lugo and her colleagues catch the streetwise Shih Tzu.

“Whenever I came to catch Biscuit, neighborhood residents would tell me the last place they had seen him,” Officer Lugo says. “Everyone tried to help get him off the streets.”

But after months of following leads, tracking the pup’s movements and attempting to humanely trap Biscuit, it became clear Biscuit was just too smart for his own good. Officer Lugo began to wonder if she would ever succeed.

“He would always find an escape route,” she says of Biscuit. “When we tried to trap him, he would lie next to the traps but he would never go inside.”

Last Saturday, April 6, Officer Lugo gathered together a group of shelter workers and kind volunteers to embark on a rescue operation. Teams assembled near some of Biscuit’s usual haunts, hoping to lure the little guy to safety. Finally, around 8:00 a.m., the group found Biscuit sleeping in a nest of leaves. They were able to corner him, carefully catch him in a net and transport him for medical care.

After his lucky capture, Veterinarian Dr. Wanda Pool treated Biscuit at the Deepwood Veterinary Clinic.

“There are two kinds of dogs,” Dr. Pool explains. “Dogs that get scared and lash out and dogs that get scared and just run. Biscuit was a runner.”

Covered in three-pounds of fur so matted it resembled a pile of dreadlocks, Biscuit was shaved and treated for a skin infection. Dr. Pool pulled more than 40 ticks from the Shih Tzu’s small body. But Dr. Pool says Biscuit is surprisingly healthy for a dog who lived on his own for so long.

“I was expecting him to be skinny, but he was in as good a condition as you could expect,” Dr. Pool explained to the Washington Post. “The little dogs aren’t as likely to survive under such conditions.”

“Now all he needs is love,” she says.

Despite living with very limited human contact for years, Biscuit seemed happy to let veterinary staff handle him. But the ultimate test came when Officer Lugo arrived to check on the elusive pooch. Much to everyone’s relief, Biscuit allowed Officer Lugo to hold and pet him with no problems.

After so long tracking him, Officer Lugo feels a special bond with Biscuit; she has even volunteered to foster Biscuit in her home to get him ready for life in a forever family.

“I told the residents that even if it took me a year, I would catch Biscuit and get in to a loving home,” Officer Lugo says.

“He’s definitely a survivor,” Officer Lugo tells WUSA of little Biscuit. “He’s as stubborn as I am, so it was a match.”

Sources: FairfaxCounty.gov, WUSA, WashingtonPost.com