INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — On Sunday, Pet Network Humane Society opened its doors to a few local celebrities for perhaps the most adorable birthday celebration ever.
There, locals welcomed back the Tahoe “Dumpster Puppies” — six dogs that were rescued after being left for dead in a trash bin in South Lake Tahoe last summer.
The dogs (all Doberman mixes) and their original foster parents, along with their adoptive parents and others attended a private birthday party at the Incline Village nonprofit.
“Cold weather and rain cannot dampen our spirits today. Today is a day we celebrate our hard work and success,” said Becky Goodman, executive director of Pet Network. “Seeing these six puppies together, fully grown and equally adored by their fosters and family is so amazing. This is the reason our staff gets up and goes to work every day. This is what we are all about.”
Sunday’s celebration included a specially baked birthday “cake” for each dog, as well as toys — and plenty of playtime with the dogs, which now weigh almost 70 pounds.
“It’s so hard to believe we could put three of these puppies in the palm of our hand a year ago,” said Caleb Knapp, boarding manager for Pet Network.
The newborn animals were found in a box inside the trash bin on July 23, 2013. Thanks to an unnamed Good Samaritan, the hours-old animals were rushed to the Pet Network, where residents worked around the clock to nurse them.
While four eventually died, Reggie, Dobbs (aka Brodie), Diva (aka Maggie), Maisie, Otter and Bandit survived, thanks to around-the-clock care from roughly 20 locals who stepped up as foster parents.
“We are so thankful to the donors who helped us get to this day,” Goodman said. “More than 100 people donated almost $5,000 to help us with the expenses of keeping these puppies alive and well. It’s impossible not to think of those amazing people as we watch these puppies grow.”
Among the original foster parents was Incline resident Bev Keil, whose weekly “Diary of a Dumpster Pup” series in the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza consisted of journal-like entries chronicling Bandit’s life from that harrowing first day through eight weeks of care.
Keil eventually parlayed the series into a novel of the same name; all profits from sales are donated to Pet Network. The book is available at Pet Network, Village Market and on amazon.com.
Once the dogs were healthy, Pet Network received between 60 to 75 adoption applications from across the country of interested owners.
The staff and volunteers opted to stay local, however, and the puppies found permanent homes in Incline Village, Tahoe Vista, Truckee and Reno by mid-October 2013.
The person responsible for leaving the animals for dead more than a year ago hasn’t been located or arrested.
According to California’s animal cruelty laws, leaving puppies for dead in a trash bin can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor.
Punishment can include prison time and/or a fine of up to $20,000 for the felony, and jail time of less than one year and/or a fine of up to $20,000 for the lesser charge.