Dog rescued from Tonto National Forest after surviving on horse remains

It's not your typical dog rescue story because there's a positive and a negative aspect to it.

Recently, Sky Sanctuary Rescue, a nonprofit organization in Phoenix that focuses on trapping feral, injured and abandoned animals, was tagged in a Facebook post about a lost dog named Otis.

"Because most dogs get lost in strain circumstances, a lot of the time they (dogs) are fear-running, so we are contacted a lot on lost dog posts," said Elli Smith, the founder and director of Sky Sanctuary Rescue.

The family, who Smith says lives on the reservation, had been looking for their dog Otis for days.  

Sky Sanctuary Rescue decided to take on the case.

The rescue got a lead from the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group that Otis may have been seen around Tonto National Forest.

"In this area, if we didn't help that dog, it would have died," said Smith.

The rescue decided to take a chance and hike up to where the group said they might have seen Otis.

They trapped a dog, but not Otis. These two dogs look nearly identical.

"I realized initially upon getting there that it wasn't the same dog, because there was quite a size difference between Otis and that dog," said Smith. The dog they trapped was a female.

So, how did this dog survive? Horse remains.

"The Salt River Horse Management volunteer was there because he went to go take pictures of the deceased horse and when he arrived he saw her (dog) eating off of the horse," said Smith. 

12 News checked with the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group to see if indeed this dog, who the rescue named Glenda, was in fact wandering near the Salt River Horses.

"When we saw the dog, we called Elli's group, who we collaborate with when a dog needs to be rescued, "said Simone Netherlands, the president of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group. 

In a Facebook post, the Salt River Group came out with a statement that talks about the Salt River Horse who was found dead.

"We do not and cannot rescue every horse on the Salt River. Wild horses have lived without human intervention for centuries. However, as you may know, we do rescue in some cases and we want to explain how we find the balance of when we do and when we don't ... We regret to inform you that this beautiful yearling in this picture, his name was Rucio, unfortunately did not make it. For those of you who frequent the river, his carcass is in the river between Coon Bluff and Goldfield. We dragged it out of the deeper water to prevent contamination and so that the predators could do their job. That is the natural way of things, he goes back to nature. He died from upper respiratory issues. We monitored him last week and we were concerned at his condition, but there was no way for us to know if it was something that he was going to get over or succumb to. We are very sad for his loss just like we mourn over each and every death in this herd." 

Smith says that she and the rescue team were saddened about Rucio's (the horse's) death.

"She kept coming back to that horse, so we don't believe she was traveling very far. We know she has a ton of loose skin, so she's definitely lost a lot of weight," said Smith.

Otis has still not been found but the rescue workers were very happy to be able to save another life along the way.

Glenda is currently with a foster home and the rescue workers hope that the rightful owner will claim her.

The rescue is also asking the public for temporary foster homes for rescued dogs.

If you would like to help the rescue or know more information, please click here.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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