STROH — For maybe only the second time in her life, Sis Shephard’s dog Beebee wandered away from home in mid-June for a little adventure like she’d done only one time before.
But this time, she couldn’t find her way back home and the 14-year-old lab mix went missing for nearly a week.
Shepherd went looking for her dog, and when she couldn’t find Beebee, she called Ark Animal Rescue and Adoption to report her missing, hoping the LaGrange County animal rescue organization might have picked Beebee up.
It took five days for someone to find Beebee, but the story of her rescue certainly isn’t one you’re likely to find in a fairy tale.
Unfortunately for Beebee, the first person to actually see the missing dog just happened to be the engineer of the train, Andrew Hershman, who first spotted her from the cab of his rolling train.
Hershman was hauling 31 empty tanker cars east to Ohio and was nearing Stroh at about 20 mph when he saw a dog dart out from behind a large pile of used railroad ties sitting next to the tracks and run directly into the path of his oncoming train. It’s a moment train engineers say they think about often and hate to see happen.
“At that point, there’s nothing you can do,” he said.
While most train/animal strikes are fatal, something in Hershman’s gut told him to stop the train and go back and look for this dog. Once the freight train finally came to a stop, Hershman jumped down and found Beebee, surprisingly still alive, seemingly resting under one of the train’s tanker cars. She was sitting up when he got there.
Hershman said at first he thought, “she’s OK” before noticing her right front leg. Most of it was missing, severed just above the elbow. And Beebee was bleeding badly.
So Hershman quickly slipped off his right shoe and used his right sock to fashion a tourniquet he placed on the injured dog.
“I think dogs are pretty tough animals, but I knew she couldn’t keep losing this much blood and still have a good outcome,” he said. “I thought ‘Her right leg is missing, so I’ll give her my right sock.’”
But the engineer knew this dog needed more than just a tourniquet, so he set off down to the track looking to find someone else who might be willing to help him rescue a stray dog. It didn’t take him long to find Andrew Bice.
Bice is a salesman who just happened to be driving by. And like Hershman, Bice is admittedly a big fan of dogs. And after a couple of quick phone calls, first to the sheriff’s department and then to Ark, LaGrange County’s animal resource, Bice learned the dog needed to go to the King Veterinarian Clinic in LaGrange where Dr. Krystle King would be waiting for her to arrive.
Ark’s animal control officer told Bice she was more than willing to come to Stroh and pick up the dog but explained she was working on the northwest side of the county and it would take her at least 45 minutes to get to Stroh.
“I just thought she’s not going to wait that long, so … they told me they wanted her up in LaGrange, I can get her there in 15 or 20 minutes,” Bice recalled. “I put her on the right floorboard of my car, and I drove her to LaGrange.”
Bice, a Fort Wayne resident, is familiar with LaGrange County’s network of county roads because of his job as an agribusiness salesman. When he arrived in LaGrange and handed Beebee off, King said that despite the seriousness of her injury, Beebee was in remarkably good shape. And surprisingly, this dog didn’t even require a blood transfusion.
The decision was made to remove Beebee’s remaining front right leg at the shoulder. King said Beebee was allowed to rest up following her surgery, and appeared to be comfortable and quickly learning to walk on three legs. After a weekend at the clinic, Beebee was allowed to go back home to Stroh where she’s lived her entire life.
Both men have kept in touch with Ark and Beebee’s owner, and hope to see the dog again once she is fully recovered.
Unfortunately, after spending a few days at home, Beebee was back at the clinic for a little rehab, and to repair the stitches in her shoulder that gave way following the surgery.
But for Cindy Miller, director of Ark Animal Rescue and Adoption, Beebee’s story is one of compassion, of strangers stepping up to help an injured animal.
“With all that going on in the world right now, it’s nice to hear a story like this,” she said.