Chihuahuas rescued by Good Samaritans after hearing yelps

- A Good Samaritan contacted Riverside County Animal Services on Saturday after hearing barks and yelps from a crevice at the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park in Riverside.

Officers arrived and squeezed as much as they could into the tight space to save two thin, male Chihuahuas. Both dogs appeared to be in good health. Although not very social, neither dog barked or snipped at their rescuers.

The call first came in Saturday morning (Aug. 20) at about 9:30 a.m. It all started as a grapevine of information at first. Regular hikers of the 1,400-plus acre, rural and hilly park learned that two dogs seemed to be stuck inside a crevice. Sharzad "Sharzi" Weiler, of Riverside, first heard about it from a woman who walks through the park collecting any bottles and cans tossed by less-than-thoughtful visitors.

Ms. Weiler said the woman was afraid to assist the dogs herself, but told her she didn't want the dogs to get forgotten. Ms. Weiler and another regular hiker, someone she knows as Mike, did all they could to get the dogs to climb out on their own. They tried treats. They even used their own dogs to try to coax the crevice Chihuahuas out, as if to show them that they were all dog-friendly folks and there was nothing to fear.

"We tried different ways to get them out, but they were too scared," Ms. Weiler said. "And they were just too far back for us to reach them." She estimated the crevice as about six feet deep. When all their attempts failed, they waited a while to see if the dogs would come up on their own. Nope.

Officer Jenny Selter arrived and hiked up to the location. She rescued the first dog at approximately 11 a.m., using a simple leash to safely extract the pooch. But Dog No. 2 was more stubborn. Officer Selter needed a colleague with a much longer arm. Enter Officer John Hergenreder. He removed a few large rocks blocking his route, then he took off his outer uniform shirt and belt to make himself just a bit thinner.

He squeezed and wedged himself as deep as he could, then reached the second dog with a snare-like device used by many of the officers.

"I'm very happy they're safe now," Ms. Weiler said. "We were so afraid they would get eaten by a coyote or bit by a rattlesnake."

Animal Services Director Robert Miller praised the hikers for bringing the dogs' predicament to the department's attention. "Who really knows how long these dogs were in that hole," Miller said. "Thank goodness these park visitors were so kind to get involved and assist these Chihuahuas. We love community members such as these."

The two dogs were thin, but otherwise healthy, but do have some dental issues with tartar buildup. If an owner does not show up, the dogs will be placed for adoption. Any would-be adopter will need to consider the dental expenses before adopting. Also, Animal Services is requesting the dogs be adopted together.

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