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Trauma center for strays almost ready

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 14, 2010 - Dogs barked, kids squealed, television camera crews milled around as friendly hugs were distributed. All that ruckus added to the gaiety and celebration that filled Stray Rescue’s soon-to-be completed facility on Pine Street between 23rd and Jefferson on Friday.

The immediate cause for the party was a $200,000 donation from the pet supply chain, Petco, and $13,150.50 from Local 36 of the Sheet Metal Workers Union to help get the new building finished and to support Stray Rescue.

Grim thanked both PETCO and Union for their generous donations.

Stray Rescue is Randy Grim’s puppy, and Randy Grim has taken on mythic status in St. Louis. He and his organization rescue the saddest cases of animal abuse.

There beaten, tortured, abandoned and discarded animals from all over the region find a haven. Grim is tireless in pursuing fair deals for animals and is a vocal, uncompromising advocate for their rights.

Among his crusades are exposing the evils of dogfights and puppy mills. But -– would you believe it? -- at the gathering Friday morning, he also revealed himself to be a natural stand-up comic.

Wisecracks and asides notwithstanding, the meeting was all about money, which Grim pursues with zeal equal to his searches for endangered and stray animals. One makes the other possible. The $200,000 presented by Petco regional manager Paul Baker will be used to help to complete phase one of Stray Rescue’s Animal Companion Center at 2320 Pine Street.

Phase one -- about 6 to 8 weeks from completion -– has been dubbed the “Life Phase” by Grim. The Life Phase includes construction of a state-of-the-art medical trauma center in the Pine Street building, as well as 69 dog runs and a center designed to educate pet owners about the responsibilities they must assume as guardians of animals.

Grim noted $1.2 million is still needed to complete the facility. He hopes local businesses will follow Petco’s lead and donate money to move the overall project toward completion.   Phase two will include a visitors lobby, an adoption center and an outdoor dog yard.

Two years ago, the financial future of Stray Rescue looked extraordinarily rosy, when a $1 million prize from a website called Zootoo.com was announced. A year later, however, according to an Associated Press report, no money had materialized for Stray Rescue. A legal settlement was reached last year, but the riches were not forthcoming as expected.

“There was a misunderstanding with payment and, unfortunately, I’m unable to comment further,” Grim said. “The mistake has motivated us to go ahead on our own,” Grim said, and Friday that movement was applauded -– and barked -– with enthusiasm.

Adam Porter is an undergraduate at Washington University in St. Louis.