From abandoned pet to forever friend, an inspiring dog named Pepper serves as hope to pet lovers who believe rescue animals can overcome great odds. Pepper’s journey of survival was made possible due to the dedication of a small animal rescue organization named Sheryl’s Den Animal Rescue in West Milford, N.J., and its founder Sheryl Hogan, who refused to leave the broken Labrador behind. For its work with Pepper, Sheryl’s Den Animal Rescue has been selected as the grand-prize winner in the Purina® Pro Plan® Rally to Rescue® Stories Contest.
Pepper’s ordeal began on a snowy February day in 2010 when she was thrown from a vehicle into a highway embankment and left abandoned after her owners sped off. Luckily for Pepper, help wasn’t far behind, as Hogan was on her way home from a seven-hour journey to a shelter to rescue animals that were to be euthanized due to a snow storm. After witnessing this unthinkable act, Hogan pulled over to find a beaten and injured black Labrador retriever. Hogan could not imagine leaving Pepper, whose fate was surely death, without care or shelter on a cold winter day. Once home, a veterinarian’s examination revealed broken bones, severe hip dysplasia, hair loss from poor nutrition and parasites. But worse, Pepper suffered from severe emotional trauma that left her extremely fearful and untrusting.