WATERLOO — Elsa came by her moniker tragically.
Named by Cedar Bend Humane Society staff for a character in the Disney movie “Frozen,” the year-old mixed breed pup came to the shelter exactly that — frozen.
“Her body temperature didn’t even register on the thermometer,” said Kristy Gardner, CBHS co-director.
On Dec. 31, Waterloo Animal Control officer Ryan Doland found the dog in a plastic pet carrier inside a tin shed. The air temperature was -4 F, with a wind chill of -23 F. The dog was near death.
“She was just frozen. She couldn’t move,” said Brian Boesen, an Animal Control Services officer who spoke with The Courier about the case. “She vomited multiple times as officer (Ryan) Doland was transporting her to Cedar Bend. It was a sad situation.”
It wasn’t Elsa’s first exposure to such suffering. On Dec. 5, Animal Control officers seized the dog after finding her chained outside to a tree in frigid temperatures, Boesen said. The owners were not cited in that instance, and the dog was returned to them after they received “counseling and education” on the proper shelter for a dog.
In late December, “we got a report that (the dog) was out again,” Boesen said.
The dog, originally named Lady, was seized again, and the owners received citations for cruelty to animals, failure to have a city dog license and failure to have a valid rabies vaccine certificate. Because the owners failed to appear in court, the dog was turned over to the city of Waterloo, which then relinquished her to Cedar Bend.
The dog who would become Elsa had begun the fight of her life.
It was Sunday, New Year’s Eve, when officer Doland dropped off Elsa in the indoor after-hours holding pen at Cedar Bend.
“He called us and said we brought in a dog and she’s not in the best of shape,” Gardner said. “We had medical staff come right in. From the medical care we had to give, that dog would not have survived the night if Animal Control hadn’t picked her up.”
Elsa’s ears, tail and paws had frostbite, and she was grossly underweight, Gardner said.
“We gave her pain medications and an antibiotic, and started her on warm IV fluids to raise her body temperature. It was really touch and go; we didn’t know if this dog was going to make it.”
Staff put Elsa on a heating pad, covered her in blankets and snuggled her for warmth. A dog’s normal body temperature is between 99 F and 102 F. “It took 24 hours just to get her 90 F,” Gardner noted.
Over four days, Elsa improved bit by bit.
“Then it was like all of a sudden she said, ‘OK, I’m good,’ and started eating on her own,” Gardner said.
Over the last month, Elsa has put on weight and “is the happiest dog,” Gardner said. “She loves everybody she comes in contact with.”
Though she continues to have extra sensitivity to cold, Elsa is now healthy, Gardner said, and will be spayed in the next week or so and be listed for adoption. She has a lot of energy and will make a wonderful family dog, Gardner said.
“She is an excellent dog. Her temperament evaluations are wonderful; in fact, we’ve used her in our temperament testing with other dogs.”
Officer Doland has checked in on Elsa over the last month to see how she was doing, Boesen said.
“They got her back to where she needed to be,” he said of CBHS staff. “This puts a big smile on our faces. We see so much, so this is rewarding for us.”