West Virginia Rescue

In early July, Great Pyrenees and Pyr mixes in West Virginia were listed on a Facebook rehoming page. They were brought to our attention by Julie Baniowski, an NGPR state coordinator in Virginia. We asked adopters and volunteers, Julie and Chris Speck, about two hours away, to assess the dogs and take photos. This turned into a much bigger job, with Chris and Julie going back and forth over the next four weeks as our "feet on the ground," communicating with NGPR volunteers in the  Northeast and our operations manager in Tennessee to get the dogs out. With this team effort, we were able to vet the dogs on site and move them to NGPR foster homes by the end of July. To date, nine of the WV dogs have found their furever homes and five are still looking. Amy Scheuer, who runs Gentle Pets Rescue in Lexington, VA and has been fostering for NGPR since 2017, agreed to take three of the females in July. This is her story.


The four ladies we are talking about here are Sheba, Tripp, Parker and Harper. Their journey to our facility, Gentle Pets Rescue, must be told so that we can understand the conditions these four lived in (as well as the other nine who were there).

Chris and Julie Speck were asked by NGPR (National Great Pyrenees Rescue) to assess 13 Great Pyrenees located on a farm in West Virginia. The owner said he could no longer care for them, citing health issues. According to Chris and Julie, this farm was in “the middle of nowhere” … no cell phone service, no road signs and GPS didn’t work. What should have been a two-hour trip turned into six hours, but they were determined to get there. Upon arriving at their destination, they were greeted “by a herd of Pyrenees and chickens.” Some of the dogs were tethered to the porch and barn, others were running around loose.

Chris and Julie had brought with them bags of food and treats. The owner thanked them, but told them that today was “not their feeding day” Say what?! Thereupon he ripped open one of the bags and threw it on the ground. The loose dogs ate on a first-come, first-served basis. When asked about the other dogs who were tethered, he replied that he throws a bag to them as well.

Now for the drinking water availability. When asked, the owner pointed to a hose on the ground that pumps water from a creek onto the muddy, trash-ridden ground. That was for the dogs who were loose. And the tethered dogs? The owner said that he has buckets of water for them. By the pictures they took, the buckets were never cleaned. Pictures below include the water bucket and the outside living conditions for the dogs.

Then it was time to meet the Pyrs. The first dog to greet Chris and Julie was Tripp, a total sweetheart. The owner said he “thought” that she was pregnant, not planned and he didn’t know when. Tripp is 5 or 6 years old. She followed them around inspecting everything they were doing.

Next on the list were Royce and Sheba, siblings, both 8 years old. Sheba is the mother of Tripp. Royce was tethered at all times to the front porch. Their appearance, according to Julie, was heartbreaking, being filthy and heavily matted, covered in ticks and prickly burrs. Despite their life of neglect, they greeted Chris and Julie with endless doggie smooches and gently took treats from their hands.

The next two siblings were Luke and Duke, brothers, both four years old. Chris and Julie found them chained to a barn where they had spent their entire life. Luke was the more social of the two, being able to move around outside the barn and interact with the other dogs. Duke was located inside the barn with a filthy dirt floor as his bed. As told by Chris and Julie, he was a little intimidating at first with his large stance and bark, but, like the others, quickly warmed up to them. His gentleness was observed when while eating treats from their hands, some fell to the ground, he never growled at the other dogs who quickly swooped in to clean them up.

And finally, the last eight Pyrs, who had no names. Upon hearing this, Julie then took it upon herself to give names to every one of them, after significant destinations in West Virginia. This group consisted of two one-year-old females, siblings and offspring of Tripp, now named Parker and Harper; two one-year-old males, now named Charlie and Lewis; two five-month-old females, now named Piper and Marlie, and two five-month-old males, now named Quinn and Baxter.

The week following Chris and Julie’s initial visit was filled with a lot of activity on the part of NGPR.

First, it was decided to get Tripp, Parker and Harper off the farm the following weekend. Gentle Pets Rescue was contacted and asked to foster these three. Chris and Julie arrived here later than they expected because Harper decided she “had other plans and ran off and hid.” After several hours of trying to catch her (wandering through waist-high brush and trash), they decided to pick her up the following weekend. It was getting dark, and they were expecting to be back in WV the following weekend to assist the transport with loading the rest of the Pyrs.

NGPR was able to contact a Veterinarian Group in Greenbrier, WV to administer vaccines, 3DX tests and health certificates on Tuesday, 7/28/2020, to the remaining Pyrs before they were to be put on transport on Friday, 7/31/2020.

Now comes the big day, Friday, 7/31/2020, when all the rest (11 in all) will be going to their respective foster homes. Again, Chris and Julie made the trip (third time) to West Virginia to assist Carol Forth, who was transporting (8) of the (11) to their fosters. Chris and Julie were bringing Sheba and Harper to Gentle Pets Rescue, and taking Charlie with them for a foster pickup. However, Charlie, Baxter and Quinn had other ideas and took off and hid under the house. Harper again was resisting, but the owner was insistent on her leaving that day. And in Julie’s own words, “Chris, Carol and I witnessed him grab Harper by the collar to the point she passed out, all 3 of us horrified, we knew we had to get her and the rest of the dogs out of there.” They loaded up the rest of the dogs into the transport and told the owner that they would be back to get the last three, Charlie, Baxter and Quinn the following Friday.

Again, on a Friday, fourth trip to WV, Chris and Julie were able to load Charlie, Baxter and Quinn into their vehicle and met Ann, another transporter, at 1:30 am to hand over these last three for their final journey to their respective fosters.

These West Virginia Ladies have gone from essentially “rags” to “riches.” While a 4'x4' inside kennel and a 4'x8' outside kennel would not normally be considered luxury, it is at least one step upward to their potential adopted homes and rescue is always one step at a time!