“When Harry Met Sally” hilarious happenings occurred; when Harry met Chrissy, his life changed.
A one and a half-year-old Blue Heeler mix, Harry and his brother, Duke, were left in a yard in southwestern Wyoming, ignored, fed only now and then, not neutered, and not exercised. A woman in the community noticed the neglect and approached the owner, seeing how she might help. Her efforts were basically rebuffed, although the owner allowed the woman to feed the dogs at times. One day the woman returned and saw both dogs' faces covered with porcupine quills; a few days later nothing had been done, so she offered to take the dogs to the vet on her own dime. The owner relented, and that's when Chrissy Pannell received a message on Facebook.
The founder of On Point for Animals, a Natrona County rescue specializing in sporting, herding, working and hound breeds, Pannell started the organization because she sees a great need to help working dog breeds. The logo of a pointer dog speaks to the organization's mission. The plight of such dogs became apparent as she worked with rescues, shelters and boarding facilities.
“In all those years, I noticed a real lack of knowledge about dogs with drive, breeds like border collies, shepherds, heelers, even labs,” she said. “People think these puppies are so cute, but they're not so cute when they herd the kids.
“You have to know what you're getting into,” she added.
On Point has a Facebook page, and Pannell is a part of many other Facebook pet pages. That's where the woman helping the heelers contacted her for help. After the owner relinquished the two brothers and Pannell garnered some donations, she drove the 600-plus miles because that's what rescues do: bring dogs from bad situations into a steady, caring environment.
That need was evident with Sasha, a boxer mix that passed through five households in as many weeks, said Pannell. The large dog was living in an apartment with no yard access.
“She needed a more stable environment,” said Pannell.
Recognizing the personality of a breed and making sure it's a good fit for the household is a large aspect of successfully living with a dog, but there is another strong and important component, something that's also ignored, said Pannell.
“Our huge thing is training — if more dogs went to training, shelters could close,” she said.
One of her goals for On Point is to have relinquished dogs go through training and be able to provide new adopters with additional training opportunities.
She also envisions a piece of property where she can have not only a training facility but also office and store space. She also desires to match these working breeds with jobs, possibly as therapy, service, or search and rescue animals. She plans to visit the South Dakota Canine Center next month to learn what to look for in rescue dogs in order that some may become service and search dogs, providing the dogs with a job that many of these breeds need. Border collies, labs and shepherds, for example, often make excellent search, service or therapy dogs due to their intelligence, their personality and their noses.
“They were bred for a purpose,” Pannell said. Sometimes those involved with rescue can discover the purpose when the owner can only see a dog with bad habits or a strong personality that doesn't fit in with the family.
“Some dogs just need to work,” she said.
For On Point to make an impact for working dog breeds and their owners many events and other outreach programs need to take place. One such opportunity comes Saturday, July 19; Pannell will be at Murdoch's in Evansville hosting a bake sale and raffle from 12-5 p.m. to help raise funds for her new organization, which is now certified by the state as a non-profit (the federal 501 ©(3) status is still in progress). All money raised goes to expenses such as spaying/neutering, shots and transportation. Pannell anticipates various events about once every month.
Rescue organizations have expenses and needs, and for On Point, foster pet parents are a great need.
“We can't get dogs (into new homes) without fosters,” she said.
Other needs include gift cards for transportation/gas, dog food, towels and blankets. Also needed are event sponsors and businesses that will allow her to post flyers. All of these things help On Point help dogs.
Just as Harry in the movie “When Harry Met Sally” finds joy and love, so did Harry the heeler find a new life of happiness and caring — he now lives on a ranch in western Wyoming.
“He has acres and acres to roam and lots of dogs to play with,” said Pannell.
And her work continues. Bubbles, a Great Pyrenees mix, was discovered wandering a county road in northeastern Wyoming last month. Although the person who found her tried to locate her owner, she had no luck, so Pannell stepped in to help. Bubbles has a new home in Cheyenne. She, too, now has a new life and kind care.
That's what rescue is all about: giving pets a new leash on life!
Learn more about On Point for animals on the organization's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/OnPointAnimalSanctuary. To foster or volunteer in other ways, call Pannell at 337-2194.