A foster dog named Latte is recovering from her injuries after being snatched from her home early Friday morning.
Latte, a 12-week-old, 11-pound Great Pyrenees and Saint Bernard mix, was taken at around 3:30 a.m. when she was outside the north Scottsdale home with three other puppies.
Foothills Animal Rescue spokeswoman Melissa Gable said two of the dogs ran around the corner of the home and the foster mother knew something was wrong when only one returned about 15 seconds later.
The foster mother, Bonnie Ziegler, waited for a moment before going to the side of the home and realizing that Latte was gone.
"She was totally gone, like poof — just gone," she said. "No struggle anywhere, no sounds anywhere, nothing — just vanished out of thin air."
Ziegler assumed that Latte had been taken by a predator, and her neighbors joined in the search effort Friday morning.
After going missing, Latte was under a tree on the 16th hole at Troon Golf Course.
(Photo: Foothills Animal Rescue)
Dog found by golfers
At around 3:30 p.m., 12 hours after Latte’s disappearance, a group of golfers on the Troon Golf Club, near Pima Road and Dynamite Boulevard, found Latte under a tree on the course’s 16th hole, Gable said.
She was dehydrated and had puncture wounds on her head and neck. One of the couples took Latte to their veterinarian, while another used Nextdoor, a social networking app for neighborhoods, to post that Latte had been found.
"We were surprised not only that they found her but that she was still alive," Gable said.
Ziegler said a friend’s husband was on Nextdoor at the same time that post was made and his wife confirmed it was Latte. Ziegler then got in touch with the couple who made the post, and she went to the clinic late Friday evening.
She said Latte’s gums were gray, a sign of a lack of oxygen, and she was bloody and dirty. Latte also had fly eggs in her ear that turned into maggots and a collapsed lung, Ziegler said.
After a weekend in the emergency pet hospital, Latte went back home Sunday evening.
Gable said Latte doesn’t have any internal injuries, but her collapsed lung causes her to get tired easily. Her lung might have been bruised when she was dropped, Gable said.
She still has punctures to her head and neck but doesn’t have any broken bones. An online fundraiser created to pay for Latte’s $4,500 medical bill had raised a little more than $6,000 by Tuesday evening. Gable said the extra funding would serve as donations to the animal rescue.
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A cautionary tale for pet owners
A veterinarian at the hospital said Latte’s injuries indicated she was taken by an owl, Gable said.
She added that the story is a cautionary tale for anyone with small pets in the Valley.
"I think a lot of people don’t realize that an animal that size (11 pounds) can get picked up by an owl," Gable said.
"That’s the size of a house cat or small dog,” she said. "It’s really important for them (pet owners) to stop and think and understand that even if you’re standing right there in the backyard you could still potentially see your animal taken by a predator. You have to be uber-vigilant and keep an eye on them at all times."
In the future, Gable said she will only allow two dogs out at a time and will not let them out of her sight, even for a few seconds.
She said she has fostered nearly 700 animals over 20 years and that this is the first time an animal has been attacked by a predator.
Latte will stay with Ziegler for another two or three weeks.
Gable said the animal rescue has received a lot of interest from people wanting to adopt Latte, and said updates will be available on the organization’s social media pages.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @brieannafrank.
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