California

How a Fresno woman saved a man’s dogs from dying. Now, if only she could find him ...

Man pets his dogs the day before they were scheduled to be euthanized

A man whose identity was not known sits on the floor at the Central California SPCA and pets his dogs on the day before they were set to be euthanized. An SPCA volunteer helped save the dogs. But she hasn't been able to find the man again.
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A man whose identity was not known sits on the floor at the Central California SPCA and pets his dogs on the day before they were set to be euthanized. An SPCA volunteer helped save the dogs. But she hasn't been able to find the man again.

On the final day before his dogs were set to die, a man sat on the floor at the Central California SPCA and reached through the small holes of the chain-link cage to touch his pets.

He tried to pet them and play with them.

They barked and whined back as if yearning to be closer to the man, too.

The unidentified man, who is believed to be homeless and living in Fresno, had visited his dogs for 10 straight days prior to this moment, according to Central California SPCA volunteer photographer Mona Ahmed.

He told Ahmed that all six of his dogs were scheduled to be euthanized the next day and he couldn’t afford to get them out.

She later found out that the man might’ve been living out of his car.

And when his car got towed (nearby residents reported his car being illegally parked), the animals inside the vehicle were taken to the dog pound.

“He believed that was the last day he’d ever see them,” said Ahmed, whose video post of the man interacting with his dogs generated thousands of views on social media. “I told him, ‘Let me help you. Let me see what I can do. Come back tomorrow. I’ll do whatever I can to help you get your dogs again. I promise.’”

Mona Ahmed.jpg
Fresno woman Mona Ahmed has helped saved cats and dogs much of the past four years. She’s a volunteer photographer at the Central California SPCA and runs “Fresno Furry Friends,” a non profit foster program that helps rescue animals in town and provides spay and neutering services. Courtesy Mona Ahmed Special to The Bee

Ahmed, in fact, was able to delay the dogs’ euthanasia.

But the man never returned to the SPCA and she has not been able to locate him since.

And now, time has run out again.

On the clock

Ten days since the SPCA volunteer spoke with the unidentified man, the dogs were once again set to be put down Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s hard,” Ahmed said. “Those dogs are probably all he has. They might be the only family that’s ever loved him.

“I wish I could help them reunite. I was willing to pay their shots, fees and help schedule their surgery (for neutering). But I can’t find him.”

Ahmed said she’s called and texted and left messages with a phone number he provided, and even went looking for him at an address he gave her, as well as searched for him at a local library he was known to visit on occasion.

But no luck.

“He told me his name is James Lutz,” Ahmed said. “But I don’t even know if James Lutz is his real name.”

Nonetheless, because she made a promise, Ahmed got the dogs out of the SPCA and found foster homes for all six.

Two are being fostered in Ahmed’s home. Another two are with a different foster. And two other foster homes each took in one dog.

Ahmed said the dogs all received their updates shots and are scheduled to be neutered Friday.

With some luck, Ahmed believes she can find each of the dogs permanent homes.

“They’re small dogs, but they’re not the friendliest dogs,” Ahmed said. “I’m thinking if you separate them for a while, you can train them and they’ll warm up. They do seem like nice dogs.”

Her motivation

Why go through so much trouble to help unfriendly dogs? And for a pet owner who can’t be found?

Since her German shepherd Rex died of cancer four years ago, Ahmed said she developed a passion for saving cats and dogs.

The photos she takes as an SPCA volunteer are regularly posted on social media to promote finding homes for the animals.

She also runs “Fresno Furry Friends,” a nonprofit foster program that helps rescue animals in town and provides spay and neutering services.

Through her connections, Ahmed said she’s been able to help save about 200 dogs and cats a month with some finding homes as far as Canada, and other times in Oregon, North Carolina and in the Napa Valley.

He was unique

In this situation, Ahmed said she’d never seen someone so attached to their pets but unable to free them.

“Maybe I’d come across someone who’d visit their dog for a day, and the dog either was released or was put down, and you never saw the owner again,” Ahmed said. “This man came into the shelter for 10 straight days.

“He’d get down on the floor and gave them treats. You could tell he loved them.”

Ahmed tears up as she recounts the moment.

She wonders if she’ll ever run into the man again.

“If one day I see him, I just want him to know that I never let his dogs die,” Ahmed said. “I want him to know that I looked for him and couldn’t find him.

“So I did what I thought was the next best option and I found your dogs good homes.”

Bryant-Jon Anteola: 559-441-6362, @Banteola_TheBee

Bryant-Jon Anteola is a multimedia reporter for The Fresno Bee, writing stories and producing videos about sports, news and random topics relatable to those in the Fresno area. He’s won a McClatchy President’s Award and received honorable mention by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He enjoys sports because of the competition, camaraderie and energy, and views sports as a microcosm of society.

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