Fast-food burgers are Cynthia Martin’s go-to whenever she’s faced with the unfathomable task of having to euthanize one of her family dogs. So the La Honda resident anticipated a stop at McDonald’s en route to visit the condemned German shepherd she helped pluck from the streets.
“I said, ‘I’d like to bring him by his last burger,’” Martin said, recalling her conversation with Palo Alto Animal Services Officer Cody Macartney. “He said, ‘You’re welcome to bring it by, but we’re actually not going to put him down today.’”
Perhaps that’s all the encouragement Martin and a troop of concerned Bay Area residents needed; within approximately 24 hours, they raised $3,000 to fund the dog’s rehabilitation with Rotts of Friends, a Woodland-based shelter.
“It’s such a wonderful story on so many levels,” said Kathy Jacobsen, a Los Altos resident who set up the online fundraising page for the dog. “At times when people are often at opposition with each other, this is a situation where everyone came together.”
Nextdoor.com brought them together. Dr. Pam Carlton of the “Upper Page Mill” Nextdoor zone published the first post of what would become a 300-plus post thread Aug. 22: “There has been a German shepherd roaming around near my property. Does he/she belong to any of you?”
The dog wore a collar but lacked a tag. He was skinny and skittish but seemed to trot around with a smile on his face – especially when devouring the contents of upended trash cans. That no one claimed him came as no surprise to Martin; she’s encountered numerous dogs abandoned in the Santa Cruz Mountains by their Bay Area owners.
“They kind of drop them off in the forest and run,” Martin said.
Palo Alto Animal Services, which serves the area, set up a trap and captured the dog, but he bit Macartney as the officer was conducting a behavior test. The shepherd would be quarantined for a period, after which if no reputable animal rescue organization stepped in, he would be euthanized. In the interest of safety, members of the public could not adopt him.
Tracking dog’s progress
Through Nextdoor and beyond, approximately 50 to 100 residents of Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Palo Alto, Cupertino, La Honda, Portola Valley and Woodside followed the dog’s progress and shared updates on the countless nonprofit agencies they contacted to save him. Someone – Jacobsen’s not sure who did it – dubbed him “Cody.”
“They thought if we named him after the officer, he’d be less inclined to put him down,” she said.
Rejection followed rejection, and all seemed pretty grim until Bailey Greer of the Inspiration Heights neighborhood reached Rotts of Friends Director Renee Lancaster. Once a month, Lancaster’s organization accepts two “lost cause” dogs and puts them through doggie boot camp. Rotts of Friends, though at capacity, would accept the shepherd if his benefactors could raise money to compensate the organization for his training, boarding and meals. Cody the dog left for his new home Sept. 26, the revised date for his scheduled euthanasia.
Lancaster sees promise in her new charge.
“He’s settling in,” said the former K9-handling police officer. “He’s not a vicious dog. He’s just a typical stray or dog that’s been dumped and is frightened.”
Lancaster estimates that Cody is 2 years old. He is likely a mix of shepherd and possibly Great Dane; at his proper weight, he will reach approximately 100 pounds. Once he recovers from his recent neutering, he’ll undergo one-on-one training, including learning to walk on a leash “like a gentleman,” she said.
And should Lancaster ultimately prove unable to place Cody with a new family, he’ll find a forever home at the no-kill sanctuary and a forever following through his Nextdoor family.
“Everyone’s been kind calling and asking about him,” Lancaster said. “They really care.”