Friendly Ghost: white dog running with coyotes gets help from rescue group

For the last few months, a ghost has roamed the desert of southern Nevada near Las Vegas with a pack of coyotes. The apparent phantom is actually a white dog named Ghost, who observers say the animals accepted as one of their own.

Residents in Henderson spotted the dog running through their neighborhood at night, sometimes with the coyotes as they played together, for at least six months, according to a fundraiser for the animal. But neighbors, who documented his movements on social media, grew concerned about an injury on Ghost’s leg that was causing a severe limp and tried unsuccessfully to catch him.

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In late January, rescuers were finally able to trap Ghost, who they say was likely abandoned in the desert as a puppy, amid the concerns over his health.

“It seems like he may have been put out there between seven and eight months and somehow or another, the coyotes just accepted him,” Susan McMullen with the Southern Nevada Trapping Team told FOX5. “He was actually just running with them and eating with them, but then he started to limp, and we were afraid … that the coyotes could turn on him.”

Rescuers tracked the pup’s movements for weeks before laying a trap, which in just six hours captured the dog, who warmed up to people quickly. “It was immediately determined by the trappers that Ghost was a sweetheart of a pup! He was skin and bones, so food was a priority, so the trappers began feeding him right out of their hands,” according to the GoFundMe. “Once at the trapper’s house, he would curl up in the dog bed that was in the crate, and roll over for belly rubs.”

“I personally evaluated him and determined he was highly adoptable,” said Carole Sandy with Amor Peludo animal rescue, the group working with Ghost’s rescuers. “He’s been lovely. He’s a wonderful dog.”

Ghost was affectionate but in rough shape, rescuers reported. The dog had a broken toe requiring amputation, an injury to his scrotum, ear infections and bites all over his body that led to infections. An exam also found rocks and stones in his stomach, which he ate due to hunger.

“He has lots of lots of medical issues and there are multiple surgeries that need to be performed,” Sandy said.

Ghost’s medical bills are more than $4,000, Fox5 reported. An anonymous donor covered $1,000 of his care, Sandy said.

“He’s got some rocks in his belly because he was probably hungry and ate some rocks, so we are just going to watch those and hopefully those will pass so we don’t have to have yet another surgery,” McMullen said.

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The animal, who rescuers hope will eventually be adopted, is still adjusting to his new life, McMullen said. “He is not crate trained. He is not leash trained … he doesn’t sleep at night. He paces; he pants, nighttime is really hard for him.”

It’s not yet clear what’s next for Ghost as controversy has arisen over his care. Amor Peludo, the animal rescue group working with the rescuers, reported that people claiming to be the dog’s owners showed up at McMullen’s home and harassed her. Authorities confiscated the dog and sent him to a local animal shelter, however the group said the dog is not receiving the treatment he needs. They say the owner who has come forward has not provided adequate proof that the dog is theirs.

“We don’t believe this is their dog,” Sandy said. “We want to make sure that Ghost is going to the best family possible. We are still willing to take Ghost into our rescue, pay for his care and get him into the most loving home.”

The Animal Foundation, the shelter currently in custody of Ghost, says the dog is doing well and receiving the care he needs. “We have a team of veterinarians. I can assure you he is being cared for. He is actually doing well,” said Kelsey Pizzi, the shelter’s communications manager.

Multiple people have claimed Ghost is their dog and the shelter is trying to determine who he belongs to, Pizzi said.