Coyote pup rescued after being covered with cholla cactus (Photos - Video)

A coyote pup covered with cholla clumps and facing an agonizing death was rescued this week by two Sun City West golf-course workers.

The pup apparently ran headfirst into a cactus Tuesday and was stumbling around in pain when Jose Soto, a Pebblebrook Golf Course maintenance worker, and Assistant Superintendent Shawn Bordine came to the rescue.

Cactus spines pierced at least a quarter of an inch into the pup, its face entirely hidden by the prickly plant, a hand-sized cholla joint clinging to its tail.

“I was shocked to see this little one tumbling over and over and over, covered head to foot with these little chunks of cholla,” resident Gwen Maxwell said Wednesday. “On my goodness, it put me in shock it was so horrible to see.”

The 86-year-old retired school teacher first spotted the pup during her usual 6:30 a.m. walk Tuesday.

At first, she thought it was a lost pet but quickly realized it was a coyote as it scampered under bushes in her back yard to hide.

Maxwell didn’t see the cactus covering on the pup until later that morning when it finally came out from under the bushes as she went outside.

“I don’t own a pet,” she said. “But I love animals and I was distressed seeing this little coyote in so much misery.”

She waved down a man who was walking by her house and implored him to call for help. He began calling the fire department, Fish and Game and his wife, who arrived and also began calling on her cell for help.

“I wept and cried and wished someone would come here quick and take care of it,” Maxwell said. She said she then saw the mother coyote approach her pup, lay down and watched it helplessly.

“I didn’t think anyone would come and help,” she said.

She followed the pup as it struggled onto a nearby golf course and she began waving off golfers fearing they might run over the animal or accident hit it with a golf ball.

She was relieved when Bordine and his foreman Jose Soto arrived to the scene.

“He was right there, he could hardly move,” said Bordine. “He was covered. It was life-threatening and he would have died within hours.”

While Soto held onto the pup with heavy-duty gloves, Bordine used a variety of different sized pliers to pull out the cactus clumps. A Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputy stood guard because the mother coyote was nearby watching them.

“For a little animal like that that it would have been pretty deadly and painful,” said Bording, who was alerted to the animal’s plight by an employee.

Bordine said the pup didn’t make any noise and didn’t nip at the two because it instinctively knew “we were there to help.”

Bordine extracted seven large cholla clumps and about 20 to 30 smaller ones from the pup.

The pup had cactus spines in its nose and mouth but luckily none penetrated its eyes, said Bordine, who owns an Australian Border Collie. It took him 10 to 15 minutes to remove them. Subsequently, Soto let the pup loose, which quickly ran to its mother.

Neither Maxwell nor Bordine have seen the pup or its family since Tuesday.

“I could not stand by and do nothing and let homeowners watch it die in misery,” Bordine said.


Responses to "Golf-course workers rescue coyote pup covered with cactus spines"

  1. Anonymous says:

    thank you so much for saving the coyote, you two have a big hearts, we need more people like you big hugs from Canada eh!

  2. Anonymous says:

    So wonderful that there are still men that care about helpless animals!!! Thank you Gentlemen for being so wonderful and saving the pup!!!! D. Horn

  3. Unknown says:

    You can judge a mans character by the way he treats animals and children, in my eyes you guys are brimming with kindness good onya guys your heroes especially to the pup. from Australia

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for saving this little guy! I can't stand seeing animals in distress.I would want to help them too.

  5. Anonymous says:

    And thanks to the lovely lady who first saw the pup in distress and summoned help. The little guy is grateful, I'm sure, as well as his mother.

  6. Sharon Thomas says:

    Well this was good to hear and see to know there are people out there that still have a heart and care: thank you one and all

  7. Anonymous says:

    thank you for your kindness. Our world needs many more people such as yourselves to protect the little creatures. Again, Good Job, Men.

  8. Anonymous says:


  9. Anonymous says:

    These people were heroic, and they make me proud to be a homo sapiens. I'm not always proud.

  10. Anonymous says:

    how beautiful it is to see there are still caring people in this sometimes ugly world!

  11. Anonymous says:

    God put us here to be watchers and care takers of the plants and animals. Thank you for helping God.

  12. Muito bom o resgate. O Jovem aventureiro Coiote !!!

  13. Anonymous says:

    God Bless you and your family have a good weekend and god bless you

  14. Anonymous says:

    thank you for saving the pup. He must have been in so much pain.. so sad.

  15. Anonymous says:

    You have saved from so much pain an innocent little coyote pup who unfortunately found out a bad lesson in life...there are things out there that will hurt you! However, there are always people with a kind heart to help!!! Thanks to everyone instrumental in helping this pup!!!

  16. Unknown says:

    Thanks for saving this poor little just earned a jewel in your crown!

  17. Anonymous says:

    thank you bothso much mt dog is 1/2 coyote,you both are very kind and wonderful men

  18. Anonymous says:


  19. Annemiek says:

    Glad there are still good people in this world, hopefully no-one else will kill it when it grows older....

  20. Unknown says:

    As an adult human, I have been stabbed by ONE cholla cactus spine and removing it was one of the most painful things I have ever experienced. I have removed several from the paws of my dog, and even on from the roof of his mouth. That one cactus spine in my great oe cause numbness that has endured for almost a year now. Just seeing these pictures is one of the most horrifying things I could ever imagine! Bless those men!!

  21. Anonymous says:

    so thankful to all who helped this baby

  22. Oh how we need more "Good People" stories. Thank you for giving me good tears.

  23. Anonymous says:

    awww thank you so much for your kindness, I started to cry the moment I seen the picture.. reading was hard but I knew in the end it was a happy ending <3

  24. Anonymous says:

    THANK YOU and bless you.

  25. Fili says:

    Thank you all, who tried to help the little guy. He is safe now because you all cared !! God bless you all.

  26. Anonymous says:

    The pup was so blessed that someone found him , and more did not seem to be afraid of mom watching. I am sure mom is a glad as the pup that you were there to help. Thanks to the lady who started it and bless the men who finished, This story touched my heart for I think all animals are speical. And every animal has a job in life. They take care of somthing or another that helps us.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Aawesome! Glad you helped

  28. I would want to know how many people saw this pup and did nothing. Those are people I would not want to be around if something happened that required compassion, understanding, human emotion, a moral compass, or brains. How we treat animals reveals a lot about our values. The inability of the two who helped to tolerate the suffering of a defenseless animal speaks volumes about the high quality of their character. Kudos to them! Shame on the rest.

  29. Anonymous says:

    That cactus mean. Mean to babies!! I feel bad for the little guy, I mean, Getting a wound to the head, and being covered head-to-paw with cactus clumps!!

  30. Anonymous says:


  31. Kata says:

    Remove all cactus balls from entire Phoenix for any human or animals safety.

Write a comment