Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
The story of Beans the dog is fairly well known around these parts.
It was in 2017 that he slipped away from a caretaker and went missing in Santa Fe for about six weeks.
That is until a dedicated group of volunteers used food bait and a humane, electronic trap to secure Beans and return him to his family in Oklahoma.
But the Beans story doesn’t end there. As a matter of fact, that was just beginning.
About two years ago, Team Frijoles Lost Pet Recovery began the systematic search for lost pets – primarily dogs – who are alone, afraid and in need of succor.
And the group of volunteers recently achieved 501-C status as a nonprofit.
“We’re just a group of animal lovers who sleep better at night knowing pets are safe,” said Michelle Lord, a Team Frijoles board member. “A group of seven of us who had been in rescue with various organizations all came together and decided this is what we’re going to do. We’re all very like-minded people, extreme animal lovers. We thought we can do this and we can make a difference.”
This hearty group, several of whom were involved in the original Beans rescue, use their own resources to rescue the lost pets.
And it is quite the effort, involving creating comfort stations, mounting cameras, posting signs, setting out baited traps.
Now, for the first time, Team Frijoles will have some outside help with their mission.
La Tienda Performance Space in Eldorado is putting on a fundraising event Friday hosted by Ali MacGraw, with the proceeds earmarked for Team Frijoles.
“We have always covered expenses out of our own pocket,” Lord said. “So, when La Tienda approached us with this, we were elated. We are in need. We need a little bit more equipment to be able to help even more animals. This will allow us to buy more equipment and bring more animals home. We’re very grateful for it.”
Modeled after “America’s Got Talent,” MacGraw is the celebrity judge who, along with several other judges, as well as the audience, will be entertained by 20 acts from across the state.
Categories include bands, music, singers/songwriters, dancers, musicians, acrobats (from Cirque du Soleil) and magicians. They are competing for a $1,000 cash prize.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Riyah Garcia of La Tienda. “It’s a show for a good cause that people wouldn’t want to miss.”
Garcia actually helped bring the two entities together after her own husky dog went missing for almost three weeks and was returned through the Team Frijoles services.
The 20 final acts have been selected by the first round of judges from an audition day, and come from Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Taos and Eldorado.
Among the acts will be some faces familiar to locals, Garcia said, including the popular Santa Fe band Fun Adixx, acrobats/drummers from Cirque du Soleil, New Mexico’s Baile Ilusion and Eldorado Church singer Roxann Woodward.
“The need for them is so huge,” Garcia said. “Fundraising for donations to cover their expenses is so important.”
Team Frijoles is made up of Wendy Katzman, Conrad Mahaffey, Kim Roman, Tim and Kate Carswell, and Paul and Michelle Lord.
“We’ve helped reunite many, many pets,” Michelle Lord said.
And the group hasn’t gotten it down to a science.
“We have a phone number listed on our Facebook page and use it on all of our postings,” she said. “It rings to all of us because these can be time-sensitive, so we get the first available person on it.”
One of the most important steps is not to chase the frightened and wary animal because that often will cause it to flee into potentially dangerous situations.
Instead, the group sets up a comfort station that includes the animal’s bedding and dirty clothing rife with the scent of their favorite human.
Then, simple, fluorescent posters are put up that include a large photo of the animal, the word “lost” and the Team Frijoles phone number.
Once sighting phone calls start coming, that’s when the trap and cameras are set up.
“And we use trail cams because we don’t ever want a dog be trapped for any length of time,” Lord said. “We have trail cams on the trap to make sure no animal is in the trap for any length of time and, more times than not, we sit and watch the trap ourselves.”
It all adds up to a mission of goodwill, so a little boost to help the cause will go a long way, she said.
“Anything will be a blessing and much appreciated,” she said.