This police chase had a happy ending.
A female German shepherd that apparently fell out the back of a pickup truck in early April and then survived for five weeks along a stretch of Highway 99 was captured Saturday by Galt police officers, with a big assist from the California Highway Patrol.
The rescue of the dog that Galt dispatchers had dubbed “Freeway Frida” has since become a hit on social media.
The dog was taken to VCA Bradshaw Animal Hospital in Elk Grove and found to have a broken leg. She was also suffering from malnutrition and dehydration, but was otherwise in remarkable condition for an animal that survived on its own for weeks along a busy Northern California freeway.
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Over five weeks, Galt police became very familiar with “Frida.” On Tuesday, Galt police Chief Tod Sockman said officers made 10 response calls trying to locate and rescue the dog.
The initial police response to a report of a dog falling out the back of a pickup on April 10 was futile. Galt officers were unable to locate the animal.
As days turned into weeks, Sockman said, callers repeatedly reported seeing the German shepherd loose in the plant-growth-rich center median in the C Street and Simmerhorn Road areas.
“There are a lot of areas to hide out there. There’s a lot of growth in that area,” Sockman said.
Then, around 6:30 a.m. Saturday, Galt police were called with another Frida sighting and headed out to Highway 99.
A little more than an hour later, Frida was spotted running along the highway by Galt Officers Sylvia Coelho and Christina Hill. The CHP came to the scene and shut down the southbound lanes of Highway 99.
“They actually stopped traffic,” Sockman said. “It wasn’t real busy at that time of the morning, but that was a big help.”
She was a little scared, but eventually they got her. She had this look of, ‘Thank goodness somebody is rescuing me.’
Galt Police Chief Tod Sockman
“We knew we would get to her. We actually had eyes on her this time,” Coelho recalled Tuesday. Even so, Coelho recalled that the dog kept running and “was actually faster on three legs than the officers were on all of ours.”
Coelho and Hill slowly closed in on the dog, who looked wary and frightened. Coelho said a CHP officer “saved the day” by looping a snare around the animal.
When the Galt officers got close to the dog, its demeanor changed.
“She was growling and biting at the snare at first, but then she just looked up at us with those big, beautiful eyes. She was like, ‘Please help me,’ ” Coelho said.
The Galt Police Department sent out the good news to the world with a 2:50 p.m. Facebook post on Saturday. The post noted the work of the Galt officers and CHP and ended with, “We are so glad she is getting the help she needs!”
Sockman said Frida’s weight was “in the forties” when she was rescued, or about 20 pounds less than what is expected for a healthy, female, adult German shepherd.
Michael Johnson, medical director of the VCA Bradshaw Animal Hospital in Elk Grove, said Tuesday that the German shepherd is eating, drinking and doing well but may ultimately need an operation on its broken leg. Johnson added that “we’re pretty certain that injury occurred when she was falling out of the truck.”
Coelho said she visited the dog at the animal hospital on Monday, feeding the German shepherd some treats, adding: “I stopped once and she put up her paw, like she was shaking my hand and wanting more treats. She’s definitely trained and somebody’s baby.”
Sockman said the search is on to try to locate the dog’s owner, who may have been unaware that the animal fell out of a moving vehicle.
“I just keep thinking that it could be some little kid’s dog, and how much that kid would want the dog back,” Sockman said.
Anyone who recognizes the dog can call the Galt Police Department at 209-366-7000 or the VCA Bradshaw Animal Hospital at 916-685-2494.