Saving Paws, Inspiring a Community

There are many ways to spark a passion. Maybe your first Broadway play inspired you to pursue an acting career. Perhaps seeing your parent start a business motivated you to become an entrepreneur yourself. Whatever your dream, there’s a defining moment where it all started.

For Randy Grim, it was when he saved his very first dog. Coming from an abusive home himself, Randy could relate and sympathize with the mistreated dogs in his community, and his passion became glaringly clear very early on in life.

“I rescued my first dog when I was 5. He looked at me with such fear, and I knew at just 5 years old…I understood that fear. I had the same fear. And these dogs deserve better than this,” expresses Randy. “My heart broke seeing so many stray and abused dogs living on the streets, and nobody cared or did anything about it. My first step was to give them a voice, man created this problem and I felt it was up to all of us to take responsibility.”

Now, years later, Randy has transformed his passion into a movement. In 1998, he started his non-profit, Stray Rescue of St. Louis, and his dream has grown from a one-man operation to a network of thousands working every day to save and love the abandoned and abused dogs from some of the country’s most dangerous streets, proving that one person’s passion truly can make a difference.

  1. [Music]

    On Screen: STRAY RESCUE – The Bagby Companion Animal Center

    RANDY GRM: All of these guys come with stories that will break your heart. I have four to five hundred dogs on any given day — and more than half have been shot. I was tired of going to vet clinics and them always wanting to put dogs down that I brought them because they were shot in the leg…

    RANDY GRM: I go to these places because that's where they need us the most.

    Interviewer: Yeah.

    RANDY GRM: I want to, to introduce you to a very special dog.

    Interviewer: Okay.

    RANDY GRM: She, uh, was shot everywhere. They beat her so hard that one eye — came out. She is the sweetest dog God ever promised planet. And she has such a will to live.

    Interviewer: Let’s go meet her.

    RANDY GRM: Oh, you'll love her.

    [Music]

    RANDY GRM: Glamour, it’s daddy! It’s daddy! There’s my girl! Glamour — this leg here is not even a real leg. I mean it's her leg, but it's all crushed bone — so it's cast and it's used as a dummy leg until we can get her walking, because then it has to be amputated.

    RANDY GRM: Glammy — it's okay baby girl. And she should have died but she was like, nope. I'm not ready.

    Interviewer: She's a fighter.

    RANDY GRM: No, she wants to feel loved in a home. And that's what we're gonna give her.

    RANDY GRM: I have some kind of special knack with these guys, and it's deeper than you know oh, you're good with dogs. It's a connection.

    Interviewer: Yeah.

    RANDY GRM: And I think a lot of it's because of my own childhood — I was able to — when I rescued my first dog, I was five so…and he, you know, I thought I was gonna get the crap beat out of me by my father. And he [the dog I was rescuing] looked at me with such fear and I knew — at five years old — I understood that fear. I had the same fear.

    RANDY GRM: This is a good dog and they all deserve a second chance and they deserve better than this.

    [Laughter, chatting and laughing with puppies in a laundry basket]

    RANDY GRM: Well, I started with the dream but it wasn't a dream I thought I had. So my dream was just to help whoever I could.

    Interviewer: Yeah.

    RANDY GRM: I didn't know that that dream would evolve into something much bigger than myself. It's weird how life works. You know, I was a young shy kid and I couldn't handle what I was seeing. I would drive into these you know really bad neighborhoods and — I started rescuing packs of wild dogs to the most abused dogs.

    RANDY GRM: No matter what your background is, you know, I had an abusive father but I'd went through hell as a child. But, if I didn't have that I don't think I would be doing this. So, forgiveness is huge. Forgive the people along the way that hurt you, because there are lessons to be taught — even through pain.

    [Music]

    RANDY GRM: I’ve changed the landscape of a city that I didn't think could change. Maybe that was my dream. Was to change the city so they cared — just so they cared — because I know if you care, you’ll help it get better.

    [Music]

    On screen: WANT MORE INSPIRATION? VISIS

    American Family Insurance, Insure carefully, dream fearlessly.

    BIG DREAM GATHERING

The Ripple Effect

Through all the good he’s done and all the lives he’s saved, Randy remains humble, and counts himself lucky to be living his best life every single day. But beyond his own happiness, he’s made a huge impact on his community — and not just the 4-legged members.

“It started with one dream — to help end the suffering of companion animals on the streets or in an abusive situation. I never meant to be the founder of anything,” says Randy.

Regardless of his initial intentions, Stray Rescue has turned into a major organization that has changed the entire landscape of a major city forever, and touched many lives in the best way possible.

“It was another defining moment in my dream to make the world a bit better of a place for animal and human,” says Randy. “My work employs people to make a living at what they love to do and has enhanced many households with a new best friend. Being aware of the ripple effect has brought my work to a new level. And the rewards feed my soul and give me a constant drive in my heart to be a better human being.”

If there’s one thing we can learn from Randy’s story, it’s that our dreams can have a major impact on those around us. And no matter what your passion, pursuing it tends to have a ripple effect. Think back on that defining moment — who inspired you to go for your goals? Just leading by example and living a life you can be proud of motivates dreamers like you to continue the journey. And if you ask us, making a difference for even one other person is something worth dreaming for.

“Being the best that you can be, I feel, is the true meaning of life,” offers Randy. “So be genuine with your journey and come from a place of love.”

Want to contribute to Randy’s cause? Here’s how you can get involved.

And if you're looking for more ways to better your community, check out these social impact resources to create a better tomorrow.


How would you rate this article?

Related Topics: Community , Passions