Many of the dogs that Carol Eisenbrandt fosters and rehabilitates at her home in Wilton would be put down if they landed in a regular shelter. But in her mind, there are no throwaway dogs.
She especially feels driven to rehabilitate a dog after she has trapped it no matter how sad its condition.
“I just want to do what is right and to find them a good home,” she said.
As animal lovers, the Eisenbrandts have rescued dogs, some livestock and an occasional cat over the years. But in 2017, Eisenbrandt formed the nonprofit, Wilton Animal Rescue, because she was seeing “an unbelievable number of dogs being dumped in Wilton” and wanted to help them. Since then, she has worked with an attorney to make sure that everything she does with animals is “legally solid”.
After Eisenbrandt takes custody of a dog under situations that can be heart-rending or even scary, she may take it to a shelter or take it to her home, depending on the circumstances. If she brings it home, she immediately faxes the appropriate shelter with the animal’s photo with the location found and makes other notifications to locate the owners. Private rescues like hers can’t rehome a dog for 30 days.
When Eisenbrandt brings a new dog home, she quarantines in an outbuilding far from the other animals until she can bring it to Dr. Gill Singh at Bruceville Pet Hospital. All the dogs are vaccinated, chipped, spayed or neutered and treated for medical conditions. They also get some help learning manners.
“What separates us from other rescues is that all our dogs also go through some kind of training,” she said.
When a dog has an interested adopter, Eisenbrandt asks to see where the animal will live. They recently visited the Wilton home of an elderly widow who fell in love with a dog that was just like her old dog Muddy. The Eisenbrandts discovered that her kennel was too small and that the dog would be able to dig out of it. So, they added extra panels and mats to prevent the digging.
“We ended up doing all kinds of stuff so this lady could have this dog,” she said. “It was a good home for the dog, and it is going to extend that woman’s life tremendously.”
And should the dog owner die or lose her home, the adoption contract specifies that WAR will take back the animal.
“We always offer that service, because we don’t want them in the system anymore,” she said.
Most of the funds to run WAR come from out of pocket, although the Eisenbrandts get some donations from other Wilton residents. And, for major hardship cases, they may try to raise some money through word of mouth and social media.
One regular donation of $150 a month does come in from a professor at Delta Community College after the Eisenbrandts rescued an injured, feral dog that had been running around the campus for months.
She still works as a nurse at Kaiser Permanente South, and he recently retired from construction. They have lived in Wilton nearly 20 years.
Eisenbrandt only fosters larger dogs. But for smaller dogs and cats, she has two other trustworthy animal rescue organizations on the equivalent of speed dial.
The Eisenbrandts have several outbuildings outfitted with kennels. Other dogs live in different spaces inside their home. All the dog areas have nanny cams so she can monitor them throughout the day over her cell phone. She also can speak directly to the dogs if necessary.
While the intent is to find a new home or a foster arrangement for each dog taken in, several have been such hard luck cases the Eisenbrandts adopted them. They include a pair of elderly great Pyrenees. One is blind and deaf, suffers from “horrific” seizures and requires expensive medication.
Two other dogs have become dear to their hearts. Brick, a lab mix, was visibly burned when his family surrendered him after they lost everything in a fire. A beautiful and affable dog, he could be adopted within minutes. But Brick revealed his sleuthing abilities when he sniffed out two terrified dogs that were overlooked by human rescuers because they were hiding. They were among 14 little dogs dumped just before Christmas outside of Galt.
“I didn’t want Brick to go to a home, where he would sit in a back yard. He needs a job,” Eisenbrandt said. “So we are going to use him to try to smell out other dogs so he can help us find them and return them to their owners.”
Another foster failure is “Chow”, a snarling and seemingly vicious Chow Chow that Eisenbrandt rescued on Riley Road after his companion was killed by a car. Although considered a danger by the Bradshaw shelter, as well as having other dysfunctional issues that prevent adoption, he has become a wonderful companion. He has excelled in obedience class and now socializes with other dogs.
“We love him to pieces,” she said. “We run and walk with him in the 5 K’s, and he gets his own medals.”
Most people who call WAR know about the Eisenbrandts from word of mouth through social media, and they are just as likely to live in San Joaquin County as Sacramento County.
But one call for help came from the hospital where Eisenbrandt works as a nurse. A patient in her 50s was dying of cancer and didn’t know what to do with her two dogs. Eisenbrandt dived in and found out the patient’s pool guy wanted to take Harry although she told him he would have to fence his swimming pool. Eisenbrandt also insisted that one of her friends, who is good with Chihuahuas, take on the “little snapper Gypsy” as a favor, which she did.
After learning that Eisenbrandt had found good homes for Harry and Gypsy, the patient died two days later.
“I was just glad that we were able to do that while she was still alive,” she said. “It’s funny how that happens.”
Some rescue situations can be hairy, especially when aggressive dogs remain after the tenants at a rural rental unexpectedly move out, or the animals are left behind after a drug bust.
“We never know what we are going to walk into, so we have to be very careful,” she said. “But knock-on wood, we have never been bitten by a dog.”
The Eisenbrandts also met up with gunfire when they tried for three months to capture a dog who was running loose at a pig farm. The tenants, who spoke broken English, kept trying to shoot the dog as he was running with their animals. They also fired shots over their heads. When Eisenbrandt called the sheriff’s office, “They just said, ‘Well, your dog was on their property.’”
The dog loved chicken. Although he would eat it out of her hand, she couldn’t grab him. Nor could he be lured into a trap with the chicken. They finally put the chicken inside a horse trailer they brought with them. After the dog went inside, she slammed the door shut.
“But we ended up with that dog. He went to Bradshaw and ended up being rehabbed by another rescue,” she said.
The Eisenbrandts stayed up 17 ½ hours over Christmas trapping what turned out to be 14 dogs with the initial help of a half dozen volunteers. Using lights and traps, they corralled 12 dogs and took them to the Bradshaw Shelter. The Eisenbrandts went back the next day and found two more dogs hiding between concrete slabs. More recently, they rescued five dogs that were dumped at Kiefer Landfill. All but one of the dump dogs have been adopted.
The WAR contact information is WiltonAnimalRescue@gmail.com or 916-687-6772. WAR also can be found on Facebook at WAR – Wilton Animal Rescue.