After she opened that dumpster lid, Phillis Allen couldn’t decide whether to cry in grief or yell in anger.
She had run out there the moment a fellow Bread of Life food pantry volunteer, Dolly Herbert, had come running in Thursday to say there was something alive in the food pantry’s dumpster. Outside, Allen lifted the dumpster lid.
Staring back at her, on top of the pantry garbage, was a pair of scared, big brown eyes, darting back and forth.
The eyes belonged to a brown, short-haired puppy of about 10 to 12 pounds, a friendly little gal of mixed heritage and bad luck. She looked starved and sickly.
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Allen, “devastated and angry,” shut the lid, ran back inside the food pantry in south Wichita and found a cupcake. The pantry feeds 500 to 700 poor people every Tuesday, but this was Thursday morning and a cupcake was all to be had at a moment’s notice.
“What kind of person puts a puppy in a dumpster?” Allen asked.
She ran back outside and fed it to the puppy, terrible pup food though it was, and the pup ate ravenously. Allen said she ran back inside, filled a little bowl and ran back out there. The puppy gulped the water.
It was obvious, as the police said later, that the pup was malnourished and dehydrated. Somewhere in the next few minutes Allen found some beef jerky, and the brown pup ate that, too.
By the time all this got done, someone at the pantry had called, and a police officer from Animal Control had showed up. What he found inside the dumpster made Allen even more sick, ever so much more angry.
He found another puppy, lying inert, further down inside the dumpster. When Allen peeked in there, that pup, a little chihuahua under 10 pounds, barely moved.
“I am a dog lover, and I am just devastated,” Allen said.
It could have been worse, she said. If Herbert hadn’t opened that lid, Allen said, and if nobody else did, the dogs might have stayed in there until Friday, when the garbage truck comes by and mechanically cranks the dumpster in the air
“They would have been crushed,” Allen said.
Instead, the cops came, water and food was provided, and the pups got taken to better conditions – the brown pup at the Wichita Animal Shelter, the little chihuahua at a veterinary clinic.
Police say they found two carrying crates in the dumpsters, probably dumped in there when the pups went in.
At the animal shelter, Allen showed up on Friday afternoon, a day after the rescue. A police officer let her in, and Allen got down on her hands and knees, and stuck a hand out to the little brown pup.
“You are looking so much better,” Allen said.
The pup crawled forward warily, and ever so slowly. The pup did not immediately show trust. And who could blame her?
It took her a few moments, crawling slow, to get close enough.
But when she was there, she licked Phillis Allen’s fingers.