San Francisco puppy saved from grim fate at recycling center

San Francisco recycling center workers are being hailed as heroes after finding and saving a small puppy who’d been thrown in a trash bag last Friday.

San Francisco Animal Care and Control Captain Le-Ellis Brown comforts the Poodle mix, who has been named Gem.

According to authorities, the little puppy had been tied into a trash bag and left in a dumpster full of construction materials before winding up at the Recology recycling center near Candlestick Park.

That the pup survived at all is nothing short of a Christmas miracle, plant workers say.

“You can see, wood, metal, sheetrock, really heavy, rugged stuff,” Recology worker Robert Reed tells KPIX 5. “It’s really difficult to imagine how the dog survived the movement of this material.”

Add to that the bulldozer that dumped her onto the recycling center’s conveyor belt, a trip through the machine that shook her violently while separating all the debris, and a 9-foot drop from the shaker and it’s a wonder the pup even made it to the sorting belt alive.

Then, only 20 short feet of belt before she’d be tossed into a disposal chute, Recology worker Gregory Foster spotted the puppy, covered in blood, desperately trying to escape her garbage bag prison. Startled, Foster flipped an emergency switch, shutting down the belt.

“My co-worker Jason climbed on top of the line, and at that time I could see like a puppy’s head sticking out the bag,” Foster describes. “And I could see it kind of move, like it was trying to climb out of the bag.”

Had the puppy been deposited into the chute, she would’ve landed in something the plant employees call the pit, where other heavy debris would likely have crushed or buried the little pup alive.

“Luckily we stopped the line in time before it actually fell off the belt into the pit,” Foster tells KTVU, explaining that the pit is typically the debris’ last stop before the landfill.

Foster and coworker Arturo Pena carefully lifted the puppy from the trash bag and looked her over.

“The puppy was frightened, scared. It was whining,” Foster remembers.

Pena tells NBC Bay Area that he held the dog and tried to comfort her.

“I imagine myself being all beat up like that,” he says. “She needed somebody.”

It was clear the little girl had been through quite an ordeal, even before arriving at the recycling center. Two large open wounds on her neck — possibly from an animal bite — needed medical attention. And between the dumpster, the recycling truck, and the center itself, she’d clearly found herself in some serious predicaments before being discovered on that belt.

“The situation she just went through is traumatizing,” says San Francisco Animal Care and Control Captain Le-Ellis Brown. “We don’t know how many days she was in the truck.”

The puppy, an apricot Poodle mix, is now resting comfortably under the care of animal control workers and veterinarians and is expected to make a full recovery. She has since been given a jewel of a name — Gem.

Meanwhile San Francisco Animal Care and Control has taken hundreds of calls from San Franciscans and probably thousands more from people all across the country offering to adopt Gem. They have also received donations from kindhearted folks who just want to help the agency care for the recovering Poodle pup.

And as for Capt. Brown, he is hoping to find out how Gem ended up in the trash that day — and exactly who put her there.

“It had to go into a dumpster by someone placing her there,” Capt. Brown explains.

Anyone with information is asked to contact San Francisco Animal Control immediately at (415) 554-9400.

For the guys who rescued her that fateful Friday, Gem has left quite an impression.

“It’s a miracle dog,” Pena says of Gem. “There’s no other words to describe it.”

Sources: NBC Bay Area, KTVU, KPIX 5