When Angela Stell came across news of a missing pit bull, she knew she had to help. "I thought, If she's going to have a chance of being found, we're going to have to get involved."
Stell is the coordinator for New Mexico Dogs Deserve Better, the state chapter of a group that works to help chained and penned dogs. She's connected to a larger network of rescuers and advocates who share information. On Nov. 17, Stell says, a blue pit bull named Chloe went missing in Albuquerque, along with her litter of 3-week-old puppies. They were on an animal transport making its way from a shelter in Merced, Calif., to a rescue in Vermont called Save a Death Row Doggie.
So she put an ad in the Dec. 2 issue of the Alibi and also plastered the city in flyers. Calls started rolling in with people claiming they knew where the dogs were: a dog in a car in the Walgreens parking lot, or a stray pit on the pueblo. Stell and her group started doing lots of legwork and followed every lead. None turned up Chloe, but they found other dogs in need of help—“stray, wandering pit bulls, dogs that live on chains, puppies that were born, basically, on the end of a chain," Stell says. "It depends on the situation, but people just get overwhelmed."
On Dec. 4, she got an anonymous call from a tipster who’d seen the Alibi ad. The person had Chloe but not her puppies. She was handed over without incident, Stell says. The vet gave Chloe a clean bill of health, and the group started a fund in her name that's intended to aid the other dogs they ran across during the search.
New Mexico Dogs Deserve Better helps people build fences so they can allow their dogs to live off-chain, and it also takes in dogs that owners don't want anymore. The group is always looking for foster families. Food, vet care, and spaying and neutering costs are covered by the organization.