FAIRBANKS — A plane touched down at Fairbanks International Airport with two sled dogs in dire need of help.
Donna Buck-Davis of Loving Companions Animal Rescue waited for them Friday in the terminal, wearing a bright headband and a worried expression. She heard the two were the weakest of 17 that were taken from a neglected dog yard in Galena just 24 hours earlier.
When she opened the carrier, the two dogs huddled together, not responding, and it was clear the dogs were too weak to stand on their own.
Without hesitation, Buck-Davis wrapped the dogs, a white female and a dark brown male who would later be named Becky and Buster, in blankets and carried them to the rescue’s van outside and rushed them to the vet.
The last few days have been a whirlwind for Becky, Buster and their 15 kennel mates after being rescued from a neglected dog yard in Galena.
Rand Rosecrans, the husband of an animal rescuer, got an anonymous phone call about the lot earlier in the week. Rosencrans, a 6-foot-2-inch, 300-pound former tough guy turned school chef, found dead dogs among the skinny and freezing dogs. He couldn’t let the others die.
“When I make up my mind to do something, just stay out of my way,” he said.
The local police, troopers and magistrate all got calls from him and he was soon granted responsibility to care for and remove the dogs from the lot.
He took the dogs to his property where he began what he describes as triage. He fed them soft, limited amounts of food and gave them plenty of straw to keep warm. The worst off were taken inside and a friendly neighbor kept them on heating pads through the night to stabilize.
“I counseled with veterinarians to make sure we don’t do harm. We don’t want them to gorge themselves. Their systems are so shocked and stressed we have to be careful,” he said. “I have a newfound appreciation for maintaining a dog team under these conditions.”
The first pack of four dogs came in on Thursday night. Then Becky and Buster arrived on Friday, followed by four more that evening. Seven more are expected to come in over the next few days.
Becky and Buster had stabilized by Saturday afternoon and are expected to recover. Becky ravenously wolfed down her dog food, while Buster timidly nibbled his. Both animals are expected to be out of the veterinarian’s office by Monday.
Now that the dogs are safe, Buck-Davis said it will be a mission to find all the animals good homes.
“They’re pretty scrawny and they are really liking being indoors where they can eat and drink what they need and stay warm. They are very nice and very gentle dogs, easy to handle,” she said. “We’re definitely looking for foster homes and we’re hoping someone’s looking for a nice little small husky.”
Back in Galena, Rosecrans was busy making sure the remaining dogs were comfortable, fed and ready for a flight to Fairbanks to get to new homes.
He said despite everything, they’re very happy dogs that deserve to recover and go to a good home.
“When I took the straw over there, they were jumping on me and they were trying to jump into the bag of straw,” he said.
“You can see the appreciation in their spirit. Their spirit is good but their poor little bodies can’t handle the cold.”
“They’re sure good little dogs,” he said. “They just need somebody who will take care of them for a while. I need people to open their hearts a little bit and foster them for a little while and count their blessings this time of year.”
Rosencrans declined to identify the yard where the dogs came from, but said he understands law enforcement is looking into pressing charges for animal neglect.