Heartbreak: Another Champion Rescuer Gone

just moments ago i received notice that an awesome rescuer and champion of the pitbull dog has lost her battle to ovarian cancer.

Shanna may not have been known all over the country like Jackson Galaxy, cat rescuer champion, or even Best Friends, but to me she was an institute of knowledge when it came to the pitbull breed and rescuing them.  she was passionate, stubborn, and literally gave her last breathe, providing not only rescue but sanctuary to so many of the breed.  (fortunately Shanna had an ever faithful partner/husband Bill who needs to be given alot of credit too).

i met Shanna, via facebook, so many years ago (2009?) and came to know her not only in the rescue arena, but personally as she shared with me her rescue knowledge and connections. as a mentor, and in my eyes a hero, she was a friend who was a shoulder to lean on not only with my own rescue endeavors, but so many of the  challenges life threw at me.  she taught me to “go high” long before it became a national mantra; because of her i learned to “ask why” when i was scared and helped me to face many fears.  even after becoming ill, there was Shanna taking in another dog, spreading her wings of rescue; unknowingly encouraging me to figure things out,  rather than succumbing to whatever was in my path.

Shanna didn’t go for the easy, most adoptable rescues, either.  she took on the ones that were broken and scarred.  she helped them heal, and if possible, find the perfect  home. for some dogs, the right home never came, and instead Shanna and her hubby Bill became home for them instead.  for other dogs, homes were found, but not before Shanna screened each potential adopter and took the time to fully investigate.  no adoption was rushed, and yes, some dogs did come back due to circumstances that changed through no fault of their own, but Shanna and Bill were always there to give sanctuary if needed.

when it came to dogs, the word “no” was rarely in Shanna’s repertoire.  and often as is the case with so many rescuers, supplies and resources were stretched to the nth degree to provide for all-with most of what it took to provide, coming out of Shanna and Bill’s own pockets.  Below are just some of the dogs Shanna and her husband rescued.

 

even when Shanna’s world was hit with ovarian cancer, it didn’t slow her down.  (she had been suffering symptoms for quite some time, and it took having to go to the emergency room is severe pain, before someone in the medical community finally took her seriously enough to investigate her symptoms, and sure enough, days later she went into surgery).  upcome recovering from the surgery and later throughout her chemo treatments, Shanna continued to rescue.  during this time, Roswell NM animal shelter became a huge nightmare, and Shanna’s rescue, Grand Valley Pit Crew, began doing what they could for pitbulls that wound up in hands of the nightmare known as Roswell Animal Control.  Regardless of  pain, loss of balance, symptoms of neuropathy and so many of the other challenges that develop from chemotherapy, Shanna continued to rescue, transport, and advocate for the breed.  and it wasn’t really until the summer of 2016, late summer, that Shanna quit taking in dogs simply because she was no longer physically capable of doing so.

along with rescue, Shanna became a voice of paying attention to your body; insisting and encouraged other women to pay attention to their bodies, regardless of what doctors told them, and getting early screening for possible symptoms of ovarian cancer.  (i was one of the few who  listened, but was also fortunate enough to have a dr who also screened for it automatically-and am currently waiting to find out the results of testing myself).

probably one of the biggest challenges during her battle with ovarian cancer, a new home had to be found her, Bill, the dogs and all their other pets.  once in the new home, new challenges arose with neighbors and one of the local commissioners when it came to licensing of the new facility.  Shanna and Bill persevered and in the end won.

as with so many other rescuers, Shanna and Bill sacrificed travel and many other luxuries, but one of her passions was gardening and in particular, a love for her waterlilies and ponds, and would take many pictures of them and share online.  she also enjoyed antiques and what family relics she had that were passed down to her from her mother and father, too.  pictured below, one of Shanna’s waterlilies.

waterlily

for me, Shanna also had a very strong presence online, and it wasn’t until maybe last fall, that that started tapering off.  i looked forward to her posts, and it was a challenge getting along without them.  close friends of hers have kept us updated on how she was doing, along with Bill.  (i can’t even imagine what Bill is going thru.  Shanna and Bill have literally  been life long partners; their children being the so many pets and dogs that they rescued, and yes while Shanna wouldn’t describe herself as a cat person, she did have cats, and would reach out to me for advice when one of her cats became a challenge behaviorally or healthwise).

i don’t know what i’ll do now that she’s gone, but i can also hear her voice in my head too, tell me to persevere as she had done.  i see Shanna on the other side, with all the dogs she rescued that have passed on, surrounded by the waterlilies and ponds that she loved.  i am going to really really miss you Shanna!

 

 

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