The streets of any city can be treacherous for our four-legged friends if they don’t have anyone to look after them. Luckily, many once-homeless pooches have found a friend, hero and rescuer in Randy Grim, founder of Stray Rescue of St. Louis. Grim has built a phenomenal network of animal lovers who are dedicated to making St. Louis a more compassionate city through Stray Rescue.
One of these efforts is an event called Urban Wanderers – Faces of Survival, which features artwork from more than 60 artists from all over the country. “They take one of our rescue dogs, and whatever their medium is as an artist, they turn the image of the dog into art,” Grim says. “There’s so much excitement around it.”
Faces of Survival is a six-week show at Gallery 400 Event Space at 400 Washington Avenue. At the end of the six-week run, the art is auctioned off, and all proceeds go directly to helping St. Louis’ four-legged friends. This year’s event runs from July 10 to Aug. 2, and begins and ends with a party.
Shep, Stray Rescue’s 2014 miracle dog, who is featured in this year’s show, has overcome being shot in the back, being paralyzed and sodomized. “Shep is a true inspiration,” Grim says. “Even when the vet said to put him down, I wanted to give him a chance. Now, he can run and has been adopted.”
Grim says Stray Rescue of St. Louis is truly unique because “we’re really in the trenches. We don’t put dogs down just because they were shot, burned or mutilated,” he says. “We heal the dog – mind, body and soul.”
Grim works daily with police, city employees and Mayor Slay’s Animal Cruelty Task Force. “We’re working in the toughest parts of the city, but we’re able to save more than 3,000 dogs a year,” he says. Grim sees cases of unspeakable cruelty, but also success stories, full of hope.
One such dog is Diseno, who has been undergoing intensive care. “When we got the call, she had been lying there for four days screaming and nobody did anything,” Grim says. “It bothered me so much that nobody cared. She was close to death and had a bullet that had gone under her eye and landed in her spine.” Grim was relieved when a surgeon was able to remove the bullet. Now, Diseno is making great progress with walking already. He also notes that they are close to solving the abuse case and hopes someone has to answer for what they did to Diseno. “I have a feeling she might be our ‘spokesdog’ next year,” he says. “She loves all people and has an incredible ability to forgive, as dogs do.”
While most shelters just put their dogs down, Grim and his staff are able to give their furry friends a second chance. “These dogs are often stigmatized because they’re ‘secondhand’ or ‘street dogs,’” he says. “But we’re able to give them a real bed, food and love.”
Stray Rescue’s volunteer base is strong, but they have approximately 300 to 500 dogs and cats on any given day. “We’re out in the community and spay and neuter as many animals as we can,” Grim says. “The community knows and respects us, and we’ve been able to solve many cases that way.”
Years ago, Grim says it was a challenge to get anyone in the community to divulge information about animal abuse cases, but as the program has become more recognized, they’ve been able to prosecute felony animal-abuse cases with prison time. “We do this all out of love for the animals,” he says. “I always say that if we all took after our dogs’ ability to forgive, we would be such better human beings.”