Rescuing abandoned, abused and neglected companion animals off the streets is only the start of their journey with Stray Rescue. However, managing a shelter that is second only to a loving home and moving mountains to get more adopted requires creativity; thinking outside of what a traditional shelter might do. To counteract some of the typical challenges rescue and shelter groups face, Stray Rescue created specialty programs with the sole purpose of making life better for our four-legged friends. Below is a brief description of each program that will give you an idea of the breadth of our operations:
This is our main operation involving the rescue of homeless dogs and cats who are doing their best to survive on the city streets. As they are rescued and placed in the jeep, they seem to know that they are now safe with people who love them and only have their best interest at heart. Many dogs are abandoned or dumped by their guardians and others are born on the street and are feral. Depending upon the degree to which dogs are feral, many must be humanely trapped. As a no-kill shelter, these dogs are medically and emotionally rehabilitated, spayed/neutered, microchipped, vaccinated and ultimately adopted into loving homes. It is critical to rescue these homeless animals in order to end the overpopulation problem. In addition to saving dogs, we are preventing hundreds of thousands of puppies from being born on the street and contributing to the overpopulation crisis.
As the largest no-kill organization in St. Louis, Stray Rescue employs the highest standard of care and shelter practices in animal welfare. Everything we do and every decision we make is with the dogs’ health and happiness in mind. As soon as a stray animal has been rescued from the streets, he or she begins adjusting to life in a compassionate environment where loving caregivers and volunteers nurture and care for and advocate for each individual dog.
The Stracks Fund: Medical Program
The Stracks Fund, our emergency medical fund, is the lifeline for companion animals who are abused, neglected and abandoned to the harsh streets. The reality is that Stray Rescue is the first responder to these severe cases at a rapidly increasing rate. Our rescue teams uncover shocking abuse and neglect on an almost daily basis, with injuries including gunshot wounds, burns, amputated limbs and extreme malnutrition. With a medical budget of over $2 million annually, there is always a need to bolster The Stracks Fund to ensure uninterrupted care for these critical cases.
The fund is named in honor of Stracks, whose rescue story exemplifies the plight of so many street dogs and the dangers they face every day. Stracks, a victim of a dogfighting ring, was found near death. He was abandoned in a field after enduring gunshot wounds, a slit throat, a severed ear and life-threatening illnesses. His road to recovery was long and difficult, but he is now one of the most gentle and loving dogs ever rescued. The Stracks Fund is synonymous with hope, stewardship, inspiration and unconditional care.
Sidney Strum Animal Abuse Fund
The Sidney Strum Fund is utilized for medical expenses, investigation and prosecution related to animal abuse cases. Made possible by Sidney Strum’s widow, Barb, this fund helps to make a profound difference in our community by allowing us to be a leading partner in the investigation and prosecution of the abusers to hold them accountable. From dog fighting to neglect to direct cruelty to animals, we rescue innocent lives from brutal abuse and follow up to make sure that the perpetrators are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Our training programs are based on the human/animal bond and are facilitated by a qualified team of full-time trainers at our shelter. The dogs are individually assessed, and the training team creates a customized program tailored to each dog. They learn basic manners and obedience and behavioral training to help increase their chances for adoption. We feel so strongly about the benefits of training that we offer one year of free training for anyone who adopts a Stray Rescue dog.
For many dogs, shelters can be overwhelming places. It is important for dogs spending any length of time in a shelter to experience as much positive stimulation as possible. This makes them happier, healthier, and more adoptable. That’s why we devised a robust enrichment program along with our Enrichment Team. From hiking with shelter dogs at local State Parks to jogging with a Running Buddy to treating a dog to lunch on the patio of a local café, or visiting a volunteer’s home for swimming parties or overnight enrichment, there is plenty of opportunity for indoor and outdoor play every day while at the shelter. Enrichment activities are a vital component of our mission.
Stray Rescue’s volunteers are the most caring and compassionate people around! We wouldn’t be able to save so many lives without our amazing volunteers, and there are many ways to get involved. Our committed volunteers walk the dogs and provide care, take them out for enrichment activities, engaging the community at various events throughout the year and so much more.
Our hope for each of our dogs and cats is that they spend as little time in the shelter as possible. Over 300 foster families give dogs and cats from our shelter a loving temporary home where they can learn to be members of a family outside of the shelter. Foster families have a special place in our hearts. They bring their foster animals to and from the shelter for medical and training appointments, provide love and care for them in their home and work our Adoption Team to assist in the adoption process when applications are submitted for their foster animal. Then, when the time comes, they say goodbye with love and joy in their hearts when it’s time for their foster animal to go to their forever home. And then they do it all over again.
Adoption into a loving forever home is the ultimate goal for every single dog and cat saved by Stray Rescue. Our Adoption team works diligently to find the perfect forever home for each animal that comes through our shelter with a thorough match-making process and post-adoption follow up to keep adopted dogs and cats with their new families.
Seniors for Seniors Program
We believe that all pets deserve a loving home, and all homes deserve a loving pet, regardless of age. Elderly dogs have just as much love and companionship to give. They have lived long, often difficult lives, and deserve to receive love and comfort as well. Through this program, a senior citizen is paired with an older dog who will suit their lifestyle. Stray Rescue waives the adoption fee and, if necessary, will provide food and medical care for the life of the dog. Here's a link to a great article
on the benefits of a pet for a senior.
Panda Hospice Foster Program
At Stray Rescue, our wish is to see all of our animals find a loving home. When an animal is diagnosed with a terminal illness or has a finite time to live, this strengthens our resolve to make sure their final days are filled with love in the comfort of a welcoming home – not in the shelter. The Panda Hospice Program is all about quality of life. They are deserving of a home where they can live out their remaining life with tenderness, comfort and dignity, and that’s exactly what our very special Panda foster parents provide.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man in spite of real sorrows." We find this to also be true of the rescued dog. Stray Rescue’s camping/hiking program provides an opportunity for volunteers to take a shelter dog out into the beauty and peaceful tranquility of nature. Away from the city, they're able to run, play, relax and just be a “normal” dog. Being out in the great outdoors in a safe and fun way with a guardian who loves them is an experience that benefits these urban street dogs in so many ways and is an important part of their overall rehabilitation, exercising both mind and body.
Service/Therapy Dog Adoption Program
As the need for service and therapy dogs in our community increases, we have risen to meet this need through our Service/Therapy Dog Adoption Program. Our Adoption and Training teams carefully match dogs to meet the unique needs of an adopter, providing them with the support and assistance they need to function in their daily lives. The adoption fee for a Stray Rescue Service/Therapy dog is significantly less than those who have been bred and trained for this purpose.
Puppies For Parole
Through this program, Stray Rescue dogs are paired with offenders at a medium-security prison to learn basic obedience and socialization skills to increase their chances of being adopted at the end of each three-month program. Benefiting both the offenders and the dogs with which they are paired, Puppies For Parole allows for consistent socialization and training of rescued shelter dogs for them to earn their Canine Good Citizen certification. The offenders who are selected to train the dogs are given an opportunity to give back to the community and can relate to the dogs that – like them – are also in need of a second chance.
Redirect Kids 4 K-9s Program
This program uses Certified Therapy Dogs to help kids aged 6-17 develop compassion and empathy, along with critical thinking skills. Stray Rescue has one-on-one mentoring with the youth as numbers permit, and provide weekly goals for the kids to interact on a higher level with a dog. The program works with the kids from the juvenile court system only at this time. For ages 6-12, Redirect Kids 4 K-9s focuses primarily on academics and helping kids stay in school.