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Lending a Helping Hand

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues
There’s an old saying that a dog is man’s best friend.

But as four stray dogs learned nearly two weeks ago, the reverse can also be true.

On an off day before the Thanksgiving holiday, Blues players Barret Jackman and Alex Steen visited abandoned homes in North St. Louis in an attempt to rescue dogs from abuse, neglect, starvation and in one’s case, even near-death.

“You round them up and their first trip is right to the veterinarian,” said Jackman. “They check for heartworm, give the dogs all the shots they need and quarantine them for a bit to make sure they (aren’t infected) with anything too serious.”

From there, the dogs are transferred to Stray Rescue of St. Louis, a no-kill animal shelter that says its sole purpose is to “rescue animals in need of medical attention, restore them to health and place them in loving, adoptive homes.”

Jackman and Steen rescued four dogs that day: one was a puppy found on the floor of a building that had previously caught fire; another was a scraggly dog with a sad face that had days, if not hours, left to live.

“My family was out of town for a couple weeks, and I said if they needed a hand with anything, I was free. I wasn’t doing much on my off days,” Steen said. “(Jackman) called and said they were going out, so I went. We found some dogs and it was a happy day.”

Randy Grim, the founder of Stray Rescue, had made several visits to this particular site in North St. Louis, feeding the strays and caring for them until he had room at his shelter to finally bring them in.

With Jackman and Steen’s help, his shelter now has four new residents.

“All of them were strays that were born on the streets or just lived on them,” Jackman said. “We’re lucky to get them, take them to a vet and hopefully they’re doing well, now.”

The dogs were each named for Blues players: the first rescued dog, a female, was named "Steena" to commemorate Steen’s first animal rescue experience. The puppy in the burning building was named "Baretta," while the other two were named "Beener" and "Ty" after Blues teammates B.J. Crombeen and Ty Conklin, respectively.

“One had a lot of bark and was aggressive but when we got him back to the veterinarian, he was a sweetheart,” Jackman said. “All bark and no bite, kind of like (Conklin), so we named him 'Ty.'”

“I’m proud I could be named after one of the dogs they saved,” said Crombeen. “A lot of guys on this team do charity work that goes unnoticed. This is one of those things. You hear about them spending their off days going into these areas and finding dogs and taking them in. It’s a pretty crazy experience and I think it’s something that everyone is proud of them for.”

Rescuing dogs is nothing new for Jackman. Since establishing his own animal rescue program through Stray Rescue, Jackman and his wife, Jenny, have gone out for several rescue missions with Grim.

“Barret’s Buddies” works with Stray Rescue and helps find homes for rescued animals.

The Jackmans have two rescued dogs at home: Bailey, a rottwieler-labrador mix, and Tanner, a german-shepard mix. Both dogs are rescued animals, with one from the Hurricane Katrina tragedy that struck New Orleans in 2005.

“My wife is able to go out (on rescue missions) all the time,” Jackman said. “With our schedule, I’m not able to go out as much as I want, but when you come home with four dogs that otherwise might have died on the street, you sleep a little bit better that night.”

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