The cruel acts of some will often reveal the kind hearts of others.
That's exactly what happened on June 19 when a Union Pacific Railroad policeman jumped to action after witnessing a crime against nature.
It was at the end of his shift in the evening when Senior Special Agent Lee Henning said he was driving through a Bakersfield railroad yard where he works and saw a man get out of a light-colored sedan.
"When he exited the vehicle, he opened the trunk and started throwing objects out of the vehicle into a water storage canal, which I later found out were five puppies," Henning said.
Henning said he was about 200 yards away from the man at the time, and raced toward him at a high rate of speed.
"When he saw my vehicle, he jumped back in his car and took off into the neighborhood," Henning said. "I was originally going to try to stop him, but when I glanced over, I saw the puppies in the canal trying to swim to the edge and get out."
Henning jumped into the canal, which he estimated to be approximately six feet deep with fast-moving water. He was able to retrieve three of the five puppies from the canal, but two others made it to land on their own and disappeared into the weeds of the neighborhood. After putting the three puppies in his vehicle, Henning said he went to go look for the other two, but was unable to locate them.
Due to the late hour, Henning said he couldn't find a shelter open so opted instead to take the puppies with him for the night to his Tehachapi home.
Said Henning, "I stopped off at Tractor Supply to get puppy food and that's where I ran into Rhonda (Voda). She asked me about the food, and I told her the story about the three puppies. She told me that she was a former pet rescue volunteer, and that she would be willing to take them and get medical care and find homes for them."
While Voda walked out to the parking lot with Henning and began scooping the scared puppies out from under the seats where they were hiding, the manager of Tractor Supply and another employee began gathering things for the newly-rescued puppies.
"(They) started to pull some items off the shelf such as a crate, dog food and dog bowl to get these guys safely in the back and some food in there tummies," said Voda.
Voda said that once she got the puppies home and examined them further, she found the pups were in pretty bad shape.
"They had giant worm-filled bellies, malnourished, very dull coats and covered in fleas and ticks," said Voda.
The first puppy is a female, which Voda has named Nemo, and the other two are males, which Voda has named River and, yes, you guessed it ... Baby Shark.
After taking possession of the trio of puppies, Voda took them to Tehachapi Veterinary Hospital where they were evaluated and treated by Dr. Steve Anderson.
Dr. Anderson estimated the puppies to be about seven to eight weeks old, and said they appear to be a pit mix breed.
According to Dr. Anderson, Nemo's front, right leg is shorter and is not growing at the progression of her other legs due to damage in her growth plates.
"She is missing a toe from that leg, and the leg was injured at some point," said Dr. Anderson. "She will never be able to use the leg correctly, even with orthopedic surgery. She faces the possibility of having to have the leg amputated when she is a little bit older."
River was diagnosed with pneumonia from taking in water from the canal. He is currently on antibiotics and responding well.
Baby Shark appears to be the healthiest of the three rescued puppies; however, Dr. Anderson said all three were suffering from poor nutrition when he first saw them.
Said Dr. Anderson, "Right now, other than the little puppy with the damaged leg, they seem to be doing well now that she (Voda) is caring for them."
According to Voda, the male puppies will be available for adoption once they are healthy, micro-chipped, receive their shots and are neutered. Nemo, however, will not be available for adoption until her leg is completely healed. A Go Fund Me page has been established to help cover the cost of the medical expenses, including the anticipated amputation of Nemo's leg.
Since Henning said he already has three dogs at his own home, running into Voda was a godsend.
"I'm just glad there are people around like Rhonda. If it wasn't for her, I don't know what would have happened," Henning said.
To make a donation, visit gofundme.com/bakersfieldcanal-rescue-puppy-amputation-surgery.