Pets

A pit bull's 'journey of love'

From roadside to bedside, a dog named JoJo is using her own journey through life to inspire humans recovering from orthopedic injuries.

JoJo's tale could not have been possible without the help of a dedicated animal rescue organization called From the Heart Rescue.

The group, which saved this pup, and JoJo were recently named the grand-prize winners in the Doing More for Pets Rescue Stories Contest, put on by Pro Plan Rally to Rescue.

JoJo's journey began, and nearly ended, as she lay by the side of the road in the west Texas desert. JoJo, a pit bull terrier, belongs to a sometimes feared and misunderstood breed, so the hours and cars drifted by with no help.

Finally, someone stopped and took her to a shelter in rural Texas. An examination revealed a severely broken leg in need of specialized surgical repair.

JoJo's journey resumed when an orthopedic veterinarian 225 miles away in El Paso agreed to do the surgery, and From the Heart Rescue agreed to step in for foster and rehabilitative care.

The journey of JoJo continued when her foster mom, occupational therapist Ann Marie Giron, began to take JoJo to work so she could inspire humans recovering from orthopedic injuries. With a shaved hind leg, large rows of staples on her incisions and an external fixator sticking out of the top of her hip, JoJo went into service as a therapy dog to those in need.

Brandy Gardes, founder of El Paso-based From the Heart Rescue, and JoJo were honored Nov. 20 at the National Dog Show in Oaks, Pa. As part of the grand prize, From the Heart Rescue received $5,000 worth of Pro Plan pet food coupons.

"It took a village to mend JoJo back to health," Gardes said. "After countless hours in rehabilitation and therapy, JoJo healed extremely well, restoring her body and growing her spirit."

JoJo has since had her fixator removed and is progressing well with her own therapy. She continues to help the patients at the orthopedic hospital, demonstrating the loyalty and intelligence of her breed. But even more, JoJo enjoys offering inspiration and love to people who are in pain.

"We are very proud to recognize JoJo's tremendous strength and the committed team of From the Heart Rescue," said Robert Tochterman, brand manager for Purina Pro Plan. "It is with their remarkable compassion, together with JoJo's foster family, who have welcomed JoJo into their home permanently, that has allowed JoJo's journey of love to continue for her lifetime."

Purina Pro Plan launched the fourth-annual Rally to Rescue story contest to chronicle often untold stories of pet rescue and to increase awareness of small pet rescue organizations' efforts.

Nearly 100 rescue stories were submitted, and a judging panel selected 10 that stood above the rest.

The stories demonstrated that by doing more and going the extra mile, these dedicated pet rescue workers changed the lives of 10 exceptional animals.

From July through October, more than 44,000 votes were cast by pet lovers across the country for the story that most touched their hearts to help select the grand-prize winner.

To read more of the stories, visit www.rallytorescue.org or www.facebook.com/rallytorescue.

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