A few months ago, we told you about the Purina Pro Plan Rally To Rescue contest, where voters selected a dog rescue story to be honored this Thanksgiving. The votes are in - all 12,000 of them - and an incredible story won.
Pepper, a Black Lab, had been neglected and abused by her owner. One day in February 2010, her owner threw her from their vehicle as it rambled down the highway. Pepper was left abandoned on the side of the road during a winter snowstorm.
Lucky for Pepper, this cruel act didn't go unnoticed. Witnessing this atrocity was Sheryl Hogan, founder of Sheryl's Den Animal Rescue in New Jersey. Sheryl couldn't ignore what she saw, so she pulled over to find the abandoned dog. Injured, frightened, and untrusting, Pepper was wary of Sheryl. Sheryl wouldn't give up, however, and managed to get the poor girl home. A vet exam showed Pepper had multiple broken bones, hair loss from parasites and malnutrition, and severe hip dysplasia. Determined, Sheryl took Pepper home with the intent of fostering her.
Months went by where Sheryl sat next to Pepper, simply talking to her. Eventually, Pepper trusted Sheryl enough to accept affection. Not long after, Sheryl decided that Pepper would be a permanent family member.
As the photo above shows, Pepper is no longer the frightened dog Sheryl met on the highway. "It was clear Pepper's spirit was broken and I could not allow one more moment of uncertainty for a dog that had already been through so much," Sheryl says. "We never gave up. It took time, patience and proper training, but now Pepper is one of the happiest dogs I know."
Much like Pepper stole Sheryl's heart, this story stole the hearts of voters. More than 12,000 votes were submitted with Pepper's story coming out on top. As the winner of the Rally To Rescue contest, Sheryl and Pepper will be recognized at the National Dog Show on Thanksgiving Day 2011, which you can see on your local NBC station. Additionally, Sheryl's Den Animal Rescue will receive $5,000 in coupons for Purina food to support the shelter.
It's heartwarming to know there are people like Sheryl in the world. Shelters and rescue groups do wonderful work that often goes unnoticed and unappreciated, so it's encouraging to see Sheryl and Pepper's story be recognized on national TV.
Thanks and kudos go out to Sheryl and every other rescue worker out there.
Did you enjoy this story? Get more dog-related news by signing up for the PawPosse.com newsletter. Simply enter your name and email address in the green box at the top right of this page.
If you liked this, you may also like:
Big Black Dog Rescue Desperately Needed
How To Get My Dog To Stop Barking
Dog First Aid Kits
Photo courtesy of Purina Pro Plan Rally To Rescue