Volunteers provide assistance to pet owners

(ABC 6 News) – A person’s love and dedication to their pet is an unbreakable bond.

But, for some people, it’s not always easy to keep up with an animals needs, and one group of volunteers in Olmsted County is lending a helping hand.

Sawyer, an 8-year-old- Australian cattle dog mix, is partially paralyzed and incontinent.

His owner, Lisa Teske, was physically unable to provide the support he needed, and she feared having to put him down. That’s when Pet Partners stepped in.

Teske had just undergone emergency surgery in October 2022, when Sawyer woke up, losing all feeling in his back legs.

“It turns out he has a degenerative disc disease, there was no trauma, he just woke up and couldn’t walk,” explains Teske. “It turned out, he had blown five discs in his back, just completely blown.”

Sawyer underwent an immediate spinal surgery, the vet said he had an 80% chance of walking.

Teske, having just undergone her own surgery, was unable to lift him, and unable to help him in day-to-day tasks.

That’s when her vet connected her with Sue Stanek, an Olmsted County social worker, and founder of Pet Partners, a volunteer group aimed to help pet parents in need.

“We don’t have rehab help here in town that can step in and give someone this assistance, so then the option may be that you have to put your pet down because you don’t have anybody that might be able to help you. We don’t want that, ” says Stanek.

Stanek explains people help in many ways, from helping find foster homes to providing financial assistance.

Volunteer Janill Gallon currently fosters Sawyer, helping him live life in a wheel chair. She has worked with Pet Partners for over a decade.

“Quite a few years ago I became aware of the fact that threes an email list of people to help with donations in regard to pet care. So I joined that list, and from there got connected with Sue, and just been reading through the emails in regards to the needs and the wants and fill in where I can,” says Gallon.

“I love my dog to pieces, I will do just about anything for him, but I can’t care for him in that way,” says Teske. “[Gallon is] providing the day to day care for him right now while I can’t and it’s just been a tremendous gift. I couldn’t do it, I can’t do what she does.”

Sawyer attends physical therapy every week, full of life and energy.

“He is the true meaning of resilience, he’s not distressed, his life is far from meaningless, he’s just a happy boy,” says Stanek.

After a few months of rehab and lots of hard work, Sawyer is regaining feeling in one of his legs.

Teske has created a GoFundMe to in his honor to support Pet Partners.