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New resale shop seeks ‘Second Chances’ for wounded strays

BENTON PARK – Shoppers used to doggedly digging for bargains know what to expect at the Second Chances resale shop. Posters, home decor, artwork, decorations and some pillows emblazoned with the words “Dogs welcome, people tolerated.” 

The words on the pillows give away the purpose behind the just-opened shop at 2321 Arsenal Street, the location of the old Luvy Duvy’s Cafe. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, but may be open more hours later. 

The store is meant to raise money for medical care for beat-up pooches and kitty cats snatched from the streets by the nonprofit Stray Rescue of St. Louis

It’s the second resale shop Stray Rescue has that benefits the Stracks Medical Fund. The first is at 2320 Pine Street, where the animal shelter operates.

The Stracks Medical Fund is named for Stracks, a dog who was severely injured at the time when Stray Rescue rescued him about 10 years ago. With the help of tons of medical care from Stray Rescue, he survived, and passed away about six months ago.

“The Stracks fund is basically what grants second chances for dogs, so we thought it would be really cute to give items second chances to help us too,” said Natalie Thomson, marketing director for Stray Rescue. 

“It’s a fun way to donate through shopping,” Thomson explained.

Now Stray Rescue is working doggone hard to find canine-loving volunteers to staff the store. They’re looking for dog and cat lovers to donate items from their piles of unwanted stuff and give those items a second chance, by donating them to Second Chances. Best of all, they’re looking for inveterate shoppers ready to sniff out bargains.

“You’re shopping for a cause,” Stray Rescue’s executive director, Cassady Caldwell, said.

And what a cause it is.

Stray Rescue spends about $2.5 million a year on medical care for the dogs and cats it rescues. 

“We’ve got dogs with shattered limbs, gunshot wounds, broken jaws, I mean, yeah, every kind of injury you can imagine,” Thomson related. And Stray Rescue brings in thousands of animals a year.

“Very rarely do they walk in healthy and happy,” Thomson said. “They usually have at least heartworms or something.”

“Ninety percent of our population has some type of medical need, whether it be heartworms or broken hips,” Caldwell said.

Many of the rescued animals have been struck by cars. Fortunately, most injured animals survive.

“That’s why Stray Rescue is so cool,” Thomson said, “because if it’s really, really expensive or hard, we don’t give up on the animal, because we’ve seen so many animals just make awesome recoveries, that a lot of shelters would euthanize because it would be cheaper.”

Among the customers who were helping on Friday to make that dream possible was Vicki Ferris.

“I get all of their emails and try to help them as much as we can,” Ferris said. “I love Stray Rescue. They are the best.” She added, perhaps jokingly, “I hate people. I love dogs.”

Someone who obviously loves both people and dogs is Sam Higgins, who was volunteering at the new shop on Friday, assisting customers and handling transactions.

She explained her volunteer service this way: “Anything to help bring money to the dogs to take care of them.”

Jim Merkel Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of five books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. The latest is Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis with Miss Jenny the Cat. For more about Jim, visit

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