R.O.A.R. Squad: Penny and her dogs, Happy, Minnie, Lady and Hank


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!

Penny with Love, Joy and Happy

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

Minnie the day Penny took her home

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.

Love, Joy and Happy in their renovated stall

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.

Coming Home

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.

Where: Montana

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!

Recruiting Members

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.

Recruiting for:


  • New Brunswick- need asap!
  • Newfoundland
  • North West Territories
  • Nunavut
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Saskatchewan
  • Yukon


  • Hawaii- need asap!
  • Idaho- need asap!
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Everywhere Else:

  • 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!

18 Responses to “R.O.A.R. Squad: Penny and her dogs, Happy, Minnie, Lady and Hank”

  1. Mel says:

    Wow. What an amazing story. Shauna – You were so right. The story made me really mad and then really happy. Penny – you are one amazing woman. Your dogs are SO lucky to have you! Welcome to the R.O.A.R. club! It is an honor to meet you.

  2. Both crying AND smiling right now….

  3. We count Penny among our most valued dog-loving friends. Thanks for profiling her terrific work.

  4. Thanks for all the hard work you do. I live in a condo and have two dogs and four cats but would love to bring in more dogs, it’s just not feasible right now and I do have disabilities. My dream would be to have lots of land and happy dogs running around.

    Thank you.

  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by debbie jacobs, pennyronning and others. pennyronning said: Very honored to be featured on Fido & Wino! http://lnkd.in/ZMN9ae […]

  6. Kari says:

    Those pups just look so darn HAPPY


  7. Maria Ryden says:

    Dear Penny,
    It is a godsend and blessing that you love animals so much and can help and love all those dogs.
    You should have a dog farm! Keep up the good work.

  8. Kristine says:

    Wow, what a story! Penny is a real hero and I would be honoured to buy her a beer absolutely any time. The world is better because of what she has done.

  9. You are amazing, Penny! You are an inspiration to the rescue community and I wish more people were like you. I am so happy to hear that Minnie, Hank and Lady have such a wonderful, loving home.

  10. There are angels that walk amongst us. Some have two legs and some have four.

    The strength of character and dedication to rescue and to recover is spectacular within Penny, Hank, Lady, Minnie and Happy!

    Let them be an inspiration to us all.

  11. […] Thrilled and honored to be featured on the blog Fido & Wino! […]

  12. Trude says:

    Holy cow what a story! Thank god for people who care enough to do something. Welcome to the club Penny!

  13. Heather says:

    Sitting at work with tears in my eyes. What a horrible start to a life. Penny, you are truly an amazing person. I feel honored to be in this group with you. 🙂

  14. Kim Clune says:

    What an amazing women, amazing dogs and amazing story. Thank you so much for all you do, Penny, and for sharing with us here!

  15. Kim says:

    Penny you are one of those angels that walk this earth that I thank God for!! This made me cry but I’m soooo very happy with the ending. I’ve been there with regard to these type of situations and it is horrible. I look in their eyes and my soul feels their pain – it also feels their joy. And they deserve much, much more of the joy. Big Hugs!! (thank you for bringing this story here Shauna!)

  16. Wow, I am glad that this one turned out happy. And I’m still in disbelief that the dog trainer stole the dog!

  17. THANK YOU, everyone and again to Shauna for posting Happy’s, Minnie’s, Hank’s, and Lady’s story! What a blessing all of YOU are out there. As I shared with Shauna, I am currently in law school and so my “free” time on the computer is much shorter during the week than what I want it to be sometimes. Please forgive my delayed thank you. I would never have guessed that at 48 years old I would be in law school, but the past two years of my life have shown me a tremendous need for legally skilled animal advocates (and for people, too).

    For those of you familiar with dogs who lack socialization skills, I embrace you. I know the challenges you have and may still be facing. I also know the incredible bond that develops when one of these dogs gives you their trust. WOW — what a relationship that becomes! For me, it truly has become a partnership with my dogs.

    We that know the love of a dog, we are so blessed aren’t we?!

    God bless you all.

  18. @Penny- We are *so* happy to have you part of the R.O.A.R. Squad! I look forward to keeping updated on all your adventures- thank you for all you do!