RED RIVER, N.M. (KRQE) – A yearling bear is lucky to be alive after being found in a Red River dumpster a few weeks ago. He weighed just 11 pounds when he should have been more than 120.

“The fur makes him look bigger, but in reality, he’s the size of a house cat.”

Ty Horak and Kathleen Ramsay with Cottonwood Rehab in Española got the call from Game and Fish opening their doors without question to help save the bear’s life. They believe the bear got separated from his mother during the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon fire last year.

“It was literally bone and skin.”

Today, he’s no longer in intensive care. The bear is improving a little bit every day.

“He is phenomenal. I’m guessing he’s probably 20 pounds already,” Ramsay said. “When he first came in, he was getting added heat. We had to heat his cage up into the 50s and 60s just because he had no calories to spend to stay warm, and then, he’s quickly outgrown that.”

Through his recovery, he’s even gained the name, Dawn, since it took 3.5 hours and half a bottle of Dawn dish soap to clean him up.

“We were just laughing going, well, ‘Dawn is safe enough for putting on birds, it’s safe enough to put on a bear’s butt,'” Ramsay laughed.

Dawn still has a long road to recovery, but Cottonwood Rehab said if all goes well, he could be released back into the wild as early as this fall.