COLORADO SPRINGS — Connie Panko has always had a love for dogs, but Panko's puppy love took on a whole new meaning one day when she noticed how many of our unhomed citizens had pets.
"I got to thinking, that must be hard to supply and support to keep them on a leash," said Panko.
Pet owners know it can be expensive to feed animals, but it can be especially challenging to our neighbors who live on the streets with their furry friends.
"There is a lot of people out here like me that have dogs," said Joe Taylor, homeless neighbor.
Panko set out on a mission and created "Paws it Forward."
As bags of animal food pile up in Panko's trunk, Panko also sets up shop at Dorchester Park just south of downtown Colorado Springs, twice a month.
"Be a positive change. That's what I am doing. I know I am not going to change the world, but if I can just change one person and one animals day for that time or just the day," said Panko.
Panko's vision has impacted hundreds of animals, and their owners, like Joe Taylor.
Thanks to Paws it Forward, Taylor is able to feed his two companions, he calls family!
"I used to preach that homeless shouldn't have a dog because it's a crutch, but actually they save our lives out here," said Taylor.
Too often, Panko says she hears if a person isn't homed they shouldn't have a pet.
It's a stigma she is working to change.
"What you don't realize is a lot of these people had these dogs before they lost their homes. They chose not to abandon their pets, but to stay loyal and give it (the pet) the loyalty that the pet gives to them," said Panko.
To learn more about Paws it Forward click here.
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