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Homeless Pets Get Love from Delta Spinal at Shaw Park in Clayton

The Clayton company will raise awareness of Gateway Pet Guardians during its customer-appreciation celebration Sept. 29 at Shaw Park.

A customer-appreciation event planned this month by Delta Spinal Care in will help raise awareness about Gateway Pet Guardians, a organization that helps rescue homeless animals in St. Louis.

"We have a lot of dog-lovers in our clientele," office manager Trudy Schneider said.

The event for Delta Spinal customers runs from 2 to 6 p.m. Sept. 29 at 's North Shelter. Dogs and representatives from Pet Guardians will be in attendance, and Delta Spinal plans to sell T-shirts. Proceeds will benefit the animal organization.

(Read a Q-and-A with Tara Kenny of Gateway Pet Guardians below.)

Food and live music will be available at the event, door prizes will be given away and activities such as washers and hillbilly golf will be offered. Participants will also get to paint pumpkins.

Delta Spinal Care aims to treat the body as a whole, identifying and finding solutions to environmental, chemical and emotional stressors as well as providing chiropractic services. Staff use a gentle touch and perform effective adjustments, Schneider said.

RSVPs are requested by Sept. 14 by phone, email or Facebook.

When did the organization begin, and what is its mission?

Gateway Pet Guardians was founded in 2004 through the combined efforts of five extraordinary women with a passion for rescuing animals, but our story really began about nine years earlier. One fateful day in 1995 while driving through East St. Louis, P.J. Hightower - an avid animal lover - took notice of the numerous stray animals running through the streets. But instead of shaking her head in disappointment, muttering “If only I could help…” and simply continuing her journey like so many before her, P.J. did something about it. On that day and nearly every day thereafter - and every consecutive day since 2001 - P.J. has made the trip across the river from her home in St. Louis, bags of food in tow, and fed the dogs and cats she saw on the streets...paying for the food out of her own pocket!  Luckily, Purina, other gracious donors and monetary donations now help us provide the animals with what they need!

In 2004, four ladies who had become acquainted with and contributed to P.J. and her efforts, fellow animal lovers themselves, decided to form a fundraising organization to take donations that would help rescue many the stray dogs and cats from the horrors of street life, as well as allow their own dollars to stretch that much further, and Gateway Pet Guardians was born.

Over the last several years the organization has blossomed into much more than its meager beginnings.  With the help of volunteers and an administrator, we at Gateway Pet Guardians began raising enough money each year to begin filing a tax return.

P.J. currently goes through approximately 1,000 pounds of dog food per month and Gateway Pet Guardians now is able to rescue over 150 cats and dogs per year.  We continue to evolve from a small organization to today’s virtual animal shelter with expert management by our very first Executive Director and dozens of dedicated, hard-working volunteers, an award winning documentary, and beyond.  We are 100% foster home based.

Gateway Pet Guardians is a 501(c)3 nonprofit animal shelter whose passionate and dedicated staff and volunteers care for animals on the streets of East St. Louis, Illinois and surrounding areas. Our mission is to end homelessness for animals in the Metro East through rescue, rehabilitation, adoption and community education.

Donations are always greatly appreciated and are used to provide veterinary care for our foster pets, some of whom have been badly injured by automobile accidents, cruelty, neglect, or life on the street. Donations are tax-exempt to the extent allowed by law. Please consult your tax advisor for information specific to your tax situation.

How many homeless pets do you care for regularly? How many do you place with new families each month?

We have nine kennels at our Emergency Shelter located at 5321 Manchester Ave. 63110—they are typically always full. The Emergency Shelter is where we bring newly rescued dogs who need immediate vet care. Our vet office, Hillside Animal Hospital, is conveniently located right next to the shelter. The rest of our animals—both cats and dogs—are in foster care. We currently have approximately 50 dogs and cats in foster homes, eight at our shelter and two at our training facility, K9 Athletic Club.

We are happy to report that in the month of August, we were able to place 16 dogs in their forever homes!  We typically are able to find anywhere between one to four animals forever homes in a month, so this was very exciting for us.  We have high hopes for September adoptions already!

What can people in Clayton and Richmond Heights do to support your organization? What kinds of donations are most helpful?

Gateway Pet Guardians is always in need of monetary donations, donations for the shelter, foster homes and volunteers.  If you can help us in any way, please visit our website at www.gatewaypets.com or find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/gatewaypets.

Our currently vet bill was almost $9,000!!!  We have had so many injured and sick animals lately. We have three with leg injuries, two came in with multiple open wounds, and most have heartworms.  We have had an on-going “Beat the Heat” Chip-In donation page (www.gatewaypets.chipin.com) and we are still trying to reach our goal of $10,000.  If you can help us, please donate today!  The street dogs will thank you!

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