Randy Grim founded Stray Rescue of St. Louis in 1998, turning his passion for saving feral dogs into a 70 person operation. Twenty years later, he has made his childhood dream come to life by opening Randy’s Rescue Ranch in O’Fallon, Ill.
Grim’s ranch focuses specifically on positively impacting the lives of larger animals with a much smaller staff.
Running Stray Rescue and caring for his aging mother, Mary Ellen Grim, did not leave spare time for Grim to pursue other projects such as his long-time dream of Randy’s Rescue Ranch. After his mother passed away in August, Grim proceeded to purchase a 20 acre farm in O’Fallon and follow this dream. Two months later, the first rescues arrived.
“Animals are abused no matter what size they are; it could be a dog, or it could be a horse,” Grim said as he walks into the barn that houses most of the large animals his organization rescued from Hurricane Harvey.
Grim now lives on the property, but not in the old farmhouse as one might expect. That property has instead been turned into a combination senior living center and hospice rescue house for Stray Rescue dogs too old or too sick to be adopted. Many of the volunteers on the ranch have come from Stray Rescue as well.
“I’ve never taken care of a horse. I still call the horses puppies sometimes because I’m used to saying puppies,” volunteer Jo McLoughlin said. “They’re such kind animals, and they just want love, too.”
In addition to helping animals feel better, Grim has started to use his ranch to help people as well. The ranch features an Equine Therapy Program for special-needs children, with plans to expand the program to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“It’s so therapeutic,” Grim said. “I’ve gone through a rough time this past year, and just being here has healed my heart. Not a pill or a doctor – just being here has healed me.”
The ranch is still part of Stray Rescue, as is Grim, who still rescues dogs from the streets. Helping these animals has pointed his efforts in a new direction, though the mission is the same.
“It’s just as rewarding, it really is,” Grim said. “When I see them coming off the truck, and they’re scared – they’re terrified – and then I see them a month later and they’re coming around. That’s awesome. It doesn’t get much better than that.”