Meet Pretzel, the yellow Lab who had his head stuck in a plastic container until being rescued

Leah Romero
Las Cruces Sun-News

RADIUM SPRINGS – Hundreds of people in Doña Ana County responded to reports of a stray dog roaming around with a container stuck on its head this past weekend. The search ended with a released and relieved dog nicknamed Pretzel.

Pretzel is a yellow Lab mix first spotted near the U.S. Post Office in Radium Springs Thursday, March 4 by passersby and was later seen near the Rio Grande. Doña Ana County Animal Control attempted to catch the stray but were unsuccessful. Cherished K-9 All Breed Rescue was called in to help, and Mesilla Valley Search and Rescue offered to assist with the rescue as well.

Responders and community members spent the next few days searching for the lab, following his tracks, deploying UTVs and drones and setting a trap in efforts to locate and bring him in.

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It wasn’t until early Saturday afternoon that Pretzel was caught, and responders were able to remove the container from his head. At first, people who had spotted him thought the container was a plastic pretzel container — hence the name. But Carla Baker, executive director of Cherished K-9, said the container turned out to be a continuous flow dog feeder.  

A Doña Ana County Animal Control Officer works to remove the plastic container stuck on Pretzel's head Saturday, March 6, 2021.

“He only had a little opening in the top, so he really would have been in dire need,” Baker said. “He was exhausted, dehydrated and very hungry.”

However, the name stuck. Baker said it fits because Pretzel found himself in a “pretzel.” He was taken in by the nonprofit rescue organization and is currently living with a foster family. Baker said he has mostly been interested in eating and sleeping, recuperating after his ordeal.

Baker is unsure how long Pretzel was in the desert or where he came from, but he did not have any tags or a microchip. Any possible owners have not stepped forward.

Pretzel, a yellow lab mix, is pictured Monday, March 8, 2021, in Apodaca Park.

The organization's original Facebook post was shared over 1,400 times and members of the community helped the search by commenting when and where they saw Pretzel.

Pretzel took a trip to the vet Sunday and has been microchipped and vaccinated. He is about a year and a half old, in good health and will be neutered later this week. He will be available for adoption around March 17 — after he has had time to heal from being neutered.

Baker said there have already been inquiries about adopting the gentle, friendly boy.

Another rescue

The search for Pretzel also yielded further rescues. Mesilla Valley Search and Rescue was also able to help three people stranded in the desert.

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On Saturday morning, responders helping in the search for Pretzel noticed a man who seemed distressed come out of the desert near the river, said Vic Villalobos, president of the organization

It turned out the man had left his two companions at their stuck vehicle and walked for about 10 hours through the desert for help. The man led Search and Rescue to the Chevy pickup truck and helped get it moving again.

Pretzel, a yellow Lab mix, hangs out with Carla Baker of Cherished K-9 All Breed Rescue, Monday, March 8, 2021, in Apodaca Park. Pretzel got his head stuck in a plastic container and had to be rescued over the weekend.

“I believe they were actually from Louisiana,” Villalobos said. “They had decided to just kind of take a little off-road tour and they actually told me they were looking for Box Canyon and I told him they were in the completely wrong area to do that.”

The three adventurers were fine, Villalobos said, and were followed by Search and Rescue to ensure they did not get stuck again.

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Leah Romero is the trending reporter at the Las Cruces Sun-News and can be reached at 575-418-3442, or @rromero_leah on Twitter.