This story will make you mad. It will also make you sad. But then it will come around and make you happy, I promise.
It will also make you want to knock on Penny’s door and take her out for a beer.
Welcome to the R.O.A.R. Squad, Penny. We’re honoured to have you.
If you would like to be profiled in the R.O.A.R. Squad all the info you need to do so is HERE. A special shout out to fabulous folks in Hawaii, Idaho, and New Brunswick- we need you!
Rockin’ Rescue Owner: Penny Ronning
Gorgeous Pups: Happy (perhaps 6-8yrs), Black Lab and possible Pit Bull mix; Minnie (2yrs), English shepherd; Lady (7yrs), English shepherd, Hank (2yrs), English shepherd
Blog: Two Chocolates
About Penny: From my earliest memories, the love for animals has been a consistent theme in my life. I’ve been blessed to have been rescued by many dogs and one cat through the years. Along with the many dogs I’ve fostered, my own adopted heroes have filled and continue to fill my life with incredible love and joy.
Breeder/Hoarder in Yellowstone County
In late December 2008, Yellowstone County raided a breeder/hoarder with the assistance of the Human Society of the United States. While approximately 200 dogs were taken into custody, more than 30 were left behind to remain with the breeder. When the county announced on the news the day after the raid that volunteers were needed to work with the seized dogs, I called the posted number and began volunteering right away. For the next 8 months, I spent almost every day feeding, cleaning, socializing and training the 5 stalls of dogs for which I was the handler. The dogs were housed in horse barns at our local fairgrounds. Happy was a part of this group. Since horse barns are not designed to house dogs 24 hours a day 7 days a week through the bitter Montana winters or our summers which can reach well over 100 degrees, these barns often posed as creative challenges with each new season.
Even though the seized dogs were in the custody of the county, as volunteers caring for the dogs, meeting their daily needs became our responsibility both in physical labor and financially. My 5 stalls housed 8 dogs in total, each with their own unique personality and fears. As with many dogs who come from hoarding environments, the lack of socialization was a key issue with the majority of the 200 dogs. With the exception of Happy and one other Lab mix, the dogs were all English shepherds, one of the rarest and most intelligent of all breeds – which, like the barns, often provided a whole new set of creative challenges to the human mind and spirit! Having volunteered more than 1500 hours in approximately 8 months, I grew deeply in love with the dogs I worked with and with the English shepherd breed in general.
When the legal case against the breeder ended, the dogs were released to a specialty breed rescue group to be placed into homes. Sadly, the Human Society of the United States, the specialty breed rescue group and the county all chose to leave the dogs that remained with the breeder to be eventually killed by the Montana Department of Corrections – this group of dogs included Minnie, Lady, and Hank. In late September 2009, as the seized dogs were all going to adoptive and foster homes, the 30 plus English shepherds with the breeder were left with only weeks to live if a rescue group did not step in to save them. That rescue group ended up being a small number of us from the community.
Minnie came to my home directly. Lady was fostered by two other families and eventually came to live with me.
Hank, while being fostered by an amazing family, was stolen by a dog trainer in whom the family had placed their trust . Two months after Hank disappeared he was found by a local animal rescue group (B.A.R.K. – one of the best in Montana!). Sadly, Hank had been dumped, by the trainer, at a crack house. When I received the call from B.A.R.K. asking if I would be able to identify Hank I was told that approximately 15 meth addicts lived in the small house. Thankfully Hank was still alive, but he was in horrible condition. He was clearly starving, was severely dehydrated, coated in urine, and walking on only 3 legs. And this was what could be physically seen. Hank now not only had socialization issues, but he had extreme physical abuse issues.
Almost one year later, Hank is now a dog who enjoys life to the fullest. Watching all of the dogs – those seized during the raid and those left behind – learn to trust that their well being is safe with me or the other handlers or their foster families or adoptive families has been one of the most intense, and yet, treasured experiences of my life.
Join the R.O.A.R. Squad
Do you want to join the R.O.A.R. Squad? Our goal is to make having a rescue animal THE coolest thing around. Ya game? Perfect! We’d love to have you!
Send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you!
We are well on our way to reaching our goal of finding at least one rescue owner from every state in the US and at least one rescue owner from every province and territory in Canada by April 2011. BUT WE NEED YOUR HELP!
We’re looking for rescue dogs, cats, rabbits, parrots… donkeys… snakes… we’re not biased around here. We just want rescues who have found fabulous homes! Check out all the R.O.A.R. Squad members HERE.
- New Brunswick- need asap!
- North West Territories
- Prince Edward Island
- Hawaii- need asap!
- Idaho- need asap!
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- From somewhere else? Lemme know!
If your state/province/territory isn’t on this list, THAT’S OKAY! We still need you to join! Just keep your eyes and ears out for rescue owners from these places for me, k? Thanks!
I look forward to hearing from you!