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Sunday, Nov 23, 2014
Lifestyle Stories

Odessa heiress elevates dog from pound to palace


Published:   |   Updated: August 1, 2014 at 08:12 AM

— Facebook is full of stories about pets with troubles - cats that need a home, dogs facing euthanasia. Some end with a new family or a heartfelt reunion; many don’t.

This story has a happy ending, thanks to an animal-loving heiress from Odessa.

Helen Rich, formerly Helen Rosburg until earlier this year, heir to the Wrigley chewing gum fortune, was away in Hawaii when she saw a Facebook post about Lady, a black Labrador retriever facing old age who couldn’t find a permanent home in Kansas.

The Pet Rescue Examiner, a publication that features stories about animals that need rescuing, posted a story by freelance writer Cheryl Hanna about Lady. According to Hanna’s story, Lady’s owner died in 2012 and a family in Sedan, Kansas, adopted her. But when the family took on smaller dogs and Lady couldn’t adjust, she was placed in a shelter.

A woman from Independence, Kansas, adopted the dog. But Lady escaped from her new home and walked 30 miles to her former family with the small dogs - who declined to take her back, according to the Pet Rescue Examiner.

The story resonated online and with Rich, who had recently lost her senior black Labrador, Granny, said her assistant, Barbara DiCioccio.

Rich, 65, contacted her staff to rescue the dog from the Chautauqua County Animal Shelter in Sedan, Kansas. At 4 p.m. Thursday, her assistants Chet Ragsdale and Barbara DiCioccio boarded a jet to Kansas to pick up the dog; they returned about 10 p.m..

“We don’t mess around here,” DiCioccio said. “We get things done.”

Lady will have a spot in Rosburg’s 11,000-square-foot, three-story Odessa home with five other dogs and a number of cats, DiCioccio said.

“The dog will be right there where she is,” DiCioccio said. “We already have a bed for her.”

Rich, the great-granddaughter of William J. Wrigley, founder of the famous chewing gum company in 1891, has a history of helping animals in need.

She’s the founder of On the Wings of Angels Rescue and has 70 rescue dogs, cats, cattle, horses, goats, rabbits, pigs and exotic birds in custom-designed quarters on a large tract of land in Odessa.

“That’s the reason I like working for her,” DiCioccio said. “I see all the good she does.”

jpatino@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7659

Twitter: @jpatinoTBO

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