After Jan Reedy heard through the animal-activist grapevine about two pregnant abandoned dogs living in the wilderness with a homeless man near the Hansen Dam, she sprang into action.
She and a few friends went in search of the animals, bringing beer as a peace offering for the man, who after a lengthy conversation about the dogs' well-being — both were malnourished, one had an injured leg and a deformed ear — agreed to give them up.
Reedy took the dog with cauliflower ear, Chila, home to Glendale, while her friend cared for the other. Reedy used her networking skills to schedule a courtesy pregnancy checkup for the mother with a local veterinarian the next morning, but that would be too late.
By the time she awoke early the next day, Chila had already given birth to nine puppies, one of which was stillborn. Instead of bringing a pregnant dog to the veterinarian, Reedy walked in with Chila at her side and a wicker basket full of puppies in her arms.
"Sometimes you have to fly on the seat of your pants," said Reedy, who for the past eight years has been working with a grass-roots team of like-minded dog lovers.
When Reedy hears about an abandoned dog, she starts to make phone calls, send emails and posts what she calls "pupdates" on Facebook to corral volunteers to find future homes for needy dogs. They work together, each bringing their own talents, to help abused and homeless dogs. They fill in the gaps left by resource-strapped nonprofits and rescue organizations, many of which focus on saving dogs set to be euthanized in shelters rather than taking them in from the streets.
"It's kind of like putting puzzle pieces together," said Reedy, who often takes on organizational roles. "This is just an amazing project with this little family of puppies. This is a community effort. This happened so, so fast. We were floored how fast."
Reedy has already created a Facebook page for Chila, who needs leg surgery, and convinced a foundation and an animal rescue organization to cover food and veterinary costs for the Labrador mixes.
"It's kind of gutsy to ask, but you ask for anything you can get," said Reedy, who applies the same philosophy to her family and friends.
The day after Chila gave birth, Reedy, who works in aviation, had to travel for work. She needed someone to take care of Chila and her black, brown and tan puppies. She showed up at her sister's home in La Crescenta looking for help, without mentioning that she had puppies in tow.
"I was pretty surprised because I knew she was going to get the dog, but I was surprised all of a sudden that she had puppies," her sister, Cindy Powell, said.
Growing up, Powell was the one who was obsessed with animals. It wasn't until later in life that Reedy was sucked into the animal-activism world.
About eight years ago, when her son was a freshman at Crescenta Valley High School, he wanted a dog, but Reedy didn't know if he was responsible enough for a pet, so she agreed to foster dogs at their home instead.
That's when Reedy had the curtain pulled back on the horrible situations some dogs find themselves in, Powell said. Her sister increased her involvement in the foster community and eventually became the person to call when a dog is in need.
"She went from zero to a hundred," Powell said.
Last month when Reedy heard about a dog who had run off, leaving the 10 puppies she gave birth to on a Compton sidewalk, she had just a few hours to find volunteers to take in and bottle-feed the puppies. She immediately posted a message on Facebook about the homeless puppies. She quickly corralled a group of seven volunteers. Meanwhile, other helpers worked to capture the mother dog using a soccer net.
Dan Meizoso, a longtime friend and neighbor, said when Reedy is involved in a cause, she is all in.
"It's her nature to jump right in," Meizoso said.
As Chila and her now 14-day old puppies — some have yet to open their eyes — relaxed on a makeshift bed in Reedy's living room this week, Reedy said the dogs will be ready for new owners by August. One of the puppies already has a potential adopter, as does the mother. But when that happens, Reedy's job isn't over.
"There's always the next one," she said.