When 86-year-old Gwen Maxwell looked outside her Arizona home last Tuesday morning, she was distressed at what she saw.
A coyote pup had gotten tangled up in a cholla cactus, and was stumbling around her property, covered in spines and obviously suffering. Initially she assumed the animal was a dog, but when it tried to take refuge on her property, she realized what she was looking at.
“I was shocked to see this little one tumbling over and over and over, covered head to foot with these little chunks of cholla,” said Maxwell. “On my goodness, it put me in shock it was so horrible to see.”
Unsure what to do, she asked a neighbor for help, and the pair began contacting emergency services.
“I don’t own a pet,” Maxwell said. “But I love animals and I was distressed seeing this little coyote in so much misery…I wept and cried and wished someone would come here quick and take care of it…[but] I didn’t think anyone would come and help.”
Maxwell watched as the mother coyote approached her pup and laid down helplessly next to the youngster. Eventually the baby struggled up and wandered onto the golf course that borders Maxwell’s property. Maxwell followed, concerned that a golfer might accidentally run over the animal.
Fortunately, help soon arrived in the form of Jose Soto, a Pebblebrook Golf Course maintenance worker, and Assistant Superintendent Shawn Bordine. The pair were able to capture the pup, and using pliers, extract the spines.
“He was right there, he could hardly move,” said Bordine. “He was covered. It was life-threatening and he would have died within hours. For a little animal like that that it would have been pretty deadly and painful.”
While the mother coyote looked on, Bordine used pliers in multiple sizes to remove seven large clumps of cactus and 20-30 smaller ones. “As Jose held him, I was able to pull stickers out of his mouth,” Bordine said. “He didn’t bite or make a sound.” As the spines were removed, the men realized they had been embedded a quarter of an inch deep into the pup.
Maxwell said the mother coyote anxiously observed the rescue, but didn’t attempt to intervene. “She knew what was going on,” she said.
Once the spines were removed and the men determined that the coyote was in otherwise good health, they released it, and the pup ran back to its mother. The coyote family — which also consists of a father and four other pups — have not been seen on the course since.
Bordine is relieved that the animal seems to have come through the ordeal relatively unscathed. “I could not stand by and do nothing and let homeowners watch it die in misery,” he said.