On a lifesaving mission, Donna Lochmann set out to rescue four adorable pudgy puppies and their fiercely protective mom, all that were hiding in a backyard with piles of junk nestled in the overgrown grass.
Living in squalor after her humans were possibly displaced by eviction, Donutfest, an adorable dog, turned out to be a fiercely lovable creature with a smile expressing her happiness and gratitude to the woman who selflessly saved her and her babies.
In 2022, Donna Lochmann, the Chief Lifesaving Officer with the Stray Rescue of St. Louis, received a call about a family of dogs who needed help. The animals were spotted by someone who said they were hiding in bushes of large blades of grass and weeds in an overgrown backyard.
Lochmann knew it would be a tricky rescue, with mom’s instincts compelling her to protect her furry little ones.
Some of the puppies were in clear view, one even curled up on an old, tattered sofa but, leveraging her years of experience with the rescue, she knew the lounging little one wasn’t where she needed to start.
Carefully hatching a plan, Lochmann set out to save mom and her brood of cute babies.
“I thought, ‘Well, I’m just gonna try to get mom first because if she’s barking at me, I don’t know what her reaction is gonna be when I start picking up her puppies,’” Lochmann told The Dodo.
Noticing the sad, hungry eyes of the white-furred mom, whose head was scratched up, Lochmann–armed with tools to help her through the rescue operation–cracked open a can of Vienna sausages, luring the starving mother into her car.
Within minutes, the dog–now named Donutfest after Lochmann’s love for donuts–climbed into her car, allowing her to complete the puppy mission.
“Once Donutfest was safe, I started working on finding the puppies,” she said.
The first puppy was huddled alone along a fence, and though she didn’t run when Lochmann approached, she was very vocal in expressing her displeasure.
“She absolutely started screaming,” Lochmann said. “I can’t believe nobody in the neighborhood came out to see what was going on.”
Scanned the yard
After the outspoken puppy was reunited with mom in the car, Lochmann then set out to collect the others.
Scanning the yard, she saw two puppies hiding in the weeds, while the third was still curled up on an abandoned couch.
Familiar with their outdoor home, the puppies did all they could to avoid their imminent capture, two of them running into tall weeds, making it difficult for Lochmann.
But, instead of chasing them, she employed the same strategy that successfully worked with mom. Pulling out a can of puppy food, the smell was just too much for them to resist, and one ended up in her arms.
With Donutfest and three of her four puppies safely in the car, Lochmann only had to save the one puppy, who had left his spot on the couch.
But his little legs didn’t allow him to move too fast, so Lochmann was able to gently pick him up before he was able to gain some speed.
“It took me a while to get the last three puppies,” Lochmann said. “But once I got them all in the car, I was so happy.”
Taking them back to the rescue, the puppies passed their veterinary screenings and went into foster care almost immediately after being rescued.
After Stray Rescue of St. Louis posted photos of the cute, pudgy babies, named Maple Long John, Chocolate Sprinkles, Jelly Filled and Boston Crème, they quickly captured the interest of families wanting to give them a home.
Mom was spayed, and estimating her to be about three years old, the young dog was adopted on the day of St Louis’ Donut Fest in the fall of 2022.
“Donutfest has simply stolen our hearts here at Stray Rescue. This adorable mama was rescued with her puppies at the beginning of October. In that short time, her sweet and sad face transformed into the biggest smile EVER!” Photos posted on Facebook show the sweet creature transforming from sad and defeated, to a happy pup, beaming with happiness and gratitude. The post continues, “You can see how thankful she is now that she has human friends who will show her love.”
The gallery of photos on the Facebook page for the Stray Rescue of St. Louis is both heart wrenching and heartwarming. Every day, the staff work tirelessly, rescuing dogs and cats, who are abused, neglected or left to die in an abandoned home.
There’s been an influx of pets needing homes since the national eviction moratorium expired in 2021 and residents were forced from their homes. It’s estimated that more than 8 million pets were either left behind or living in shelters, which were already at or over capacity. The ASPCA reports that each year, about 920,000 shelter animals are euthanized (390,000 dogs and 530,000 cats).
The Stray Rescue of St. Louis offer a no-kill environment to pets, refusing to euthanize because of illness or over population.
“We seek out and take in the animals who no other organization will help or would simply euthanize because they are too expensive to heal,” the rescue writes on its website. “We see beyond their brokenness and are here to pick up the pieces to make these special animals whole again. We see the individual and know that there’s no “one size fits all” treatment plan. The minute they enter our doors, we look in their eyes and promise them ALL the second chance they deserve for health, home, commitment and love.”
Recently the rescue posted x-rays of Owen, a dog, who was beaten and abandoned by its family. The pup is so badly injured that his legs are paralyzed and raw from dragging them when he moves.
On April 28, we met Remo, a young dog who two weeks before had been shot in the leg, the bullet fracturing his bone, which was exposed. On May 17, after fundraising efforts allowed emergency surgery for the innocent pup, the rescue gave us an update: “The next morning, he not only woke up but he was doing great!! He’s spent the last few weeks healing in our clinic.” Adding that Remo is adopted, the post continues, “This boy is going to have the most charmed life with his amazing new parents. And he’ll have them wrapped around his paw in no time with those expressive eyebrows of his.”
We cannot thank you enough for your selfless efforts in helping these innocent animals! We look forward to seeing updates on the adorable cats and dogs you save!
If this story made you smile or even cry, please share it with your friends and help bring awareness to this nationwide problem of homeless, neglected and abused pets.