One thing STL rescue does really well is, well, rescue. Every dog lover in the area, and even many nationwide, know of Randy Grim and Stray Rescue and the wonderful work they do.  I was excited to learn about their sponsored adoption program last month and to share it here.

I’ve always wanted to learn more about the “underdogs” in the area.  For part of January and most of February, I worked on the planning committee for Barks & Beads, a Mardi Gras pre- and post-party in conjunction with the Mardi Gras Pet Parade that benefitted Needy Paws Rescue (NPR) and Frenchtown Dog Park.  For this project, I had the pleasure of working directly with Jill Henke, NPR’s Director of Operations, who has graciously welcomed me into their volunteer community, where I’m taking on a few cool roles. (I’ll share more about that later!)

NPR is a 100% foster-based rescue organization, operating all over the St. Louis Metropolitan Area, and even into rural areas of southern Missouri, where resources are scarce.  This means they do not have a shelter facility. Their staff of foster coordinators works quite adeptly with animal control agencies to strategically tag and pull animals for maximum efficiency. While some rescues focus on rescuing stray dogs off the cruel streets, NPR focuses on rescuing the sweet, unwanted souls who have been surrendered or otherwise turned in to county agencies. (Oh, how it breaks my heart to write out that sad, sad truth.)

Lora Pappas, President and Founder of Needy Paws Rescue, and Jill were kind enough to let me tag along on their trip to St. Louis Animal Control this past Sunday.  I think people view Animal Control facilities as run by heartless dog killers, but that’s just not the case. AC employees regularly communicate with their network of rescues to strategically re-home as many animals as they possibly can because the reality is that they are Animal Control and they do euthanize for space and health reasons. And the longer an animal is in Animal Control, the more he or she is susceptible to illness, so do the math. Just because these guys have shelter, food and water, does not mean they are in safe harbor.

As we surveyed the animals, Jill and Lora discussed which dogs may do well with certain fosters. For example, one foster may have a fondness for blue pit bulls, while another may only be able to take small dogs. In related news, Blue, the blue pit bull got his freedom ride that afternoon with Jill. (Yay for Blue and Jill!) I met the most adorable petite brindle boxer named Sadie, who I can’t seem to get out of my mind.

Another NPR volunteer, Megan Buchholz, joined us. I never quite knew if her intention was to simply observe or if she intended to find a foster dog, but she sure did leave committed to take home sweet, sickly Rayna who wasn’t going to make it out alive if she spent much more time in the facility.

This is just one of the many ways NPR rescues animals.  When Stray Rescue closed due to the distemper epidemic, NPR took in shelter animals who were medically cleared and those who would have otherwise been re-routed to St. Louis City Animal Control. When Diana’s Grove was shut down, NPR took quite a few of their animals who needed homes immediately.

NPR runs much of its volunteer/foster communications in a Facebook group and having access to that, I see a group of dedicated individuals who communicate in positive, friendly and helpful tones. They know each other’s strengths and they work together for the common good. I’ve seen rescue groups devolve into dramatics and arguments over inflated and needy egos, and this group truly exists for the sake of the animals and nothing more.

In February, NPR celebrated its 2000th adoption since its inception in July 2014, which for a rescue organization of its size, is remarkable. They’ve been around for not even three years and in my opinion, they are the ones to observe and take notes from because they’re doing it right and they’re inventing the manual as they go.

For a list of upcoming events and ways to get involved, visit