Dog rescue petitions for admin offices, holding facility


By Erin Achenbach, News Editor

The St. Louis County Planning Commission held a public hearing Dec. 19 on a petition for administrative offices and an overnight boarding facility for a dog rescue nonprofit in Affton.

Needy Paws Rescue, a volunteer nonprofit organization that rescues dogs from kill shelters and takes in strays and surrendered pets in the area, is seeking a conditional use permit in the C-2 commercial district to have administrative offices, with minimal overnight boarding, at 8923 Gravois Road in Affton, at the corner of Mathilda Avenue. The building is a former residence now zoned for commercial use.

Lora Pappas, executive director and Needy Paws owner, told the commission the building would be used for administration, meetings and volunteer training, and would also be used as a holding place for rescued dogs until they can be placed in foster homes.

“The problem is now we’re getting too many at one time and we’ve been having to put them in boarding facilities, which is costing us a lot of money,” Pappas said. “If we could use this building for some of the dogs until we can get them into foster homes or get them adopted … that’s really what we want it for.”

Needy Paws was able to purchase the building because one of Pappas’s friends who died from cancer left the organization “a nice chunk of money.” It does not operate a shelter elsewhere currently, instead all of its rescues are in foster homes.

“We do not have a shelter and we do not want a shelter. This building is not going to be a shelter,” Pappas said. “This is going to be a holding facility … hold them for a couple of days to get vetted and then placed in a foster.”

There would be no set hours of operation for the building. Volunteers would come throughout the day to check on the dogs and let them out as needed. A vinyl privacy fence has already been erected to help with any noise.

“I don’t think barking will be an issue because if they happen to start barking, they’re coming back inside,” Pappas said. “Being a good neighbor is very important to us.”

There will not be anyone there 24 hours and dogs will be left overnight, but there will be security cameras installed, in addition to volunteers who live nearby who can come in case of emergency.

As far as signage, there will not be any because Pappas said they do not want people dropping off dogs there. They will also utilize existing floodlights on the back of the house to light the backyard as needed when letting dogs out.

One resident spoke in favor of the petition. Cynthia Anderson, an Affton resident and Needy Paws foster, said that she has never met “a more professional, well-organized … highly-respected rescue in the St. Louis community.”

“I know that any issues that may arise will be taken care of promptly. They want to maintain their reputation,” Anderson said.

One resident spoke against the proposal. John Winter, who lives behind 8923 Gravois, said that he and his fiancée were concerned about noise from the dogs and decreasing property values.

“It is 8 feet from our bedroom to where this … will be at,” Winter said. “Since they mentioned fixing floodlights … floodlights will be going into our bedroom window at night.”

The panel will vote on a recommendation at its next executive session.