Luke Pappaspanos, Features Editor

With fall and cooler weather just around the corner there are more chances to get outside for a walk or a jog. There are furry friends just waiting patiently for you to come by their place of residence and take them for a walk. There are animal shelters which take in and care for unwanted or stray pets then find a kind family to love and take proper care of them. The Animal Protective Agency on Hanley Road is one of many animal shelters in the St. Louis area and they would appreciate volunteers helping out.

The APA is a very clean facility and has a veterinarian clinic within the same building. A table is located in the lobby area and holds pamphlets and brochures with various information. Some titles were: “Adopt a Friend for Life,” “Humane Education Programs,” “Volunteer,” “Education,” “Adoption,” and another stating information about birthday parties for children at the APA.

The employees at the APA are willing to give advice and share information about animal care, adoptions, fostering a pet, or becoming a volunteer. There are some interesting facts to share about the history of the APA. The background story as to how the APA started is that one day, a lady was walking around town and saw someone being cruel to a horse in Webster Groves in 1922. She handed the person a card and told the abuser to call the phone number; it turned out the number was the lady’s number all along. She took care of the horse and this is how the organization was born to help unwanted, abused or stray creatures on this planet. Presently, the APA takes up to 30-40 animals a day, no matter what kind of animal it is, whether a cat, bird, guinea pig, reptile, rabbit, gerbil, or dog, they do not care as long as they can help the critter and provide it a loving home.

The APA takes in lost and owner surrendered animals from all over Missouri and Illinois, or whenever another shelter is filled, the APA will take in some of their animals. Even if they are overbooked, they still continue to take in animals, so there will always be room enough. Many of the rescued animals live with foster parents who help them and train them to be adoptable. Foster parents do not have to take their fostered pet to places like PetSmart, Petco or other animal expo events where they are available for adoption on special days at special times. The agency is not associated with the Humane Society in any way. Animals are not put down as they are at the Humane Society to make space for other animals. At the APA, if the animal is too sick to be saved, they will be put down. Animals are kept at the facility until they are adopted; there is no time limit.

This organization is only funded by donations, it gets no government funding at all. The adoption fee includes medical screening by their vet tech, microchipping, spaying or neutering, some medications, such as vaccinations, worming, and flea and tick preventatives, and a limited basic health care plan. The fees cover only about 25 percent of the combined cost of medical expenses and the care of the animal while it is waiting for its new family.

Schools, churches, families, and other groups can donate to the animals by raising funds or pet supplies through: garage sales, holding a towel drive, collecting newspapers, gathering pet supplies, or organizing a bake sale. Visit the APA rescue group’s website for additional information.

The website provides knowledge on the adoption center, success stories, coming events, community service, wellness services, the adoption process and fees, of course, adoptable pets, and how to become part of the APA team and much, much more. The APA and St. Louis Community College partner together and have developed a new animal welfare assistant certificate program. This is just one more way in which the center is involved in the St. Louis community.

There are many animal rescue organizations in Missouri, to name just a few: Needy Paws Rescue, Country Acres Rescue, Gateway Pet Guardians, Puppies for Parole, Open Door Animals Sanctuary, also there are groups which specialize in certain breeds, small dogs, or cats. But, it is important to check and research the organization before adopting, volunteering or fostering an animal. Today, locating facts about rescue groups is easy. A few clicks on the laptop and knowledge is quickly available. Everyone checks information before buying a house, car or other important items. It is just as important to check out the facility or foster family who has been caring for the pet who will become a part of your family.

The APA on Hanley Road reaches out to the St. Louis community. Handlers take dogs to schools, nursing homes and foster cares; which allow children and elderly folks to interact with the dogs. The organization also works with STLCC, as well as taking in lost, homeless, owner surrendered critters throughout Missouri and Illinois.

Denise Dietsch, DVM and Shannon L. McCollough, DVM are the two veterinarians who care and evaluate animals which are taken into the APA. There are two entrances into the clinic: a side entrance from the parking lot, and an entrance through the main building. The organization cares for many types of animals, reptiles and birds daily till a forever home is found. Becoming a volunteer dog walker or foster parent at any pet rescue organization is a great way to get outside and enjoy the fall weather. The APA gives animals a second chance at a new life.