By FRED SWEGLES
A 25-pound dog discovered in the engine compartment of a Chevy Silverado in San Clemente on Monday is doing fine, said to have survived a 110-mile journey on a hot autumn Southern California day with no apparent ill effects.
“The dog is doing very well, not affected by the long ride down there,” said Kim Cholodenko, general manager at the San Clemente-Dana Point Animal Shelter, which is caring for the keeshond mix.
“It’s a beautiful dog,” said the truck’s driver, Jaime Magaña, a 52-year-old building-restoration supervisor from Chino. He said he had no idea a dog was with him during a trip in his company vehicle from Chino to Orange to Camp Pendleton to San Clemente. When he stopped in San Clemente for lunch and turned off the ignition, he could still feel movement in the truck. Getting out, he said, he could see fur protruding above the left front tire.
“I didn’t want to look under the hood,” he said. But he did, and was ecstatic to find the dog.
“When I opened the hood he looked at me like thank you very much,” Magaña said. I didn’t want to pull him out. … maybe something was broken.”
He gently pulled the dog out, dialed 911 and gave it water.
“Between the engine and the front there is a big gap and that is what saved him,” Magaña said. “I don’t understand how it survived at this temperature with the engine running. It doesn’t make any sense. And the dog has nothing (wrong), no problem. It’s in one piece. This is amazing. This will never happen again in my life.”
Jill Moran, an animal-control officer, reported that she got a call at 11:40 a.m. from the Sheriff’s Department regarding a dog discovered in a vehicle’s engine compartment. She said she immediately placed the dog into the air-conditioned cab of her animal-control truck. “He perked right up,” she said.
Moran said the shelter occasionally responds to calls for kittens stuck in engine mounts after crawling in from the ground. “Unfortunately we’ve pulled out some dead kittens too,” she said, “even snakes. This is the first time I’ve had a dog.”
Local officials are nicknaming the dog “Chevy” as they contact authorities outside Orange County to try to locate an owner. Cholodenko said the shelter will require proof of ownership.
“I do think it was on the level,” Moran said, when asked about the bizarre tale. “The guy was really shaken up.”
Magaña, who said he has three dogs, said he had seen this dog around his neighborhood in recent days but he knows his neighbors’ dogs and this isn’t one of them. He said he will put out fliers in hope of finding an owner.
If the shelter is unable to identify a provable owner for the dog after five days, it will neuter, vaccinate and microchip the dog and put him up for adoption.
The shelter is at 221 Avenida Fabricante, San Clemente, at 949-492-1617.
Read more: The Orange County Register