Some days when the front door opens, a calm, well-trained black and white pit bull terrier, aptly named Petey, because of his resemblance to the Our Gang sidekick from the Little Rascals, greets customers who come to browse. With white on one eye and a black circle on the other, Petey eagerly welcomes customers when they visit Paws Place, a thrift store in Camdenton.
Petey is one of the many dogs Paul Rhodes has befriended over the years. Rhodes, the owner of Paws Place, a no-kill animal shelter, in Rocky Mount and a thrift store of the same name. Rhodes has been taking animals in and providing a shelter, medical care and training to them for over 8 years, Until recently, Rhodes has managed to keep things running, managing to keep the shelter and store open. It's not always easy, he said.
The last few months, according to Rhode's friend and fellow animal advocate Gina Lucci have become more difficult. Rhodes is single handedly running the shelter and thrift store, she said, providing unwanted animals with a place to call home.
“What Paul has done and continues to do is to offer these shelter animals a second chance at life. Their unconditional love is the thing they know and want to share with others who want a pet in their home; many of them were once a part of the family environment too,” Lucci said. "There a multitude of reasons why people give up these pets, some are sad and some are due to circumstances beyond their control. Knowing this is where Paul’s heart expands to heroic, loving proportions that he selflessly displays day in and day out."
For the last two years, Rhodes operated two thift shops, the one in Camdenton and the original thrift store in Lake Ozark that had opened in 2010. The Lake Ozark location has closed, leaving only the Camdenton store to help fund the shelter and there's a growing need for volunteers to help out.
Rhodes said he is limited to about 40 animals who require care and attention. Rhodes spends hours daily taking care of the animals and goes through 50 to 55 pounds of food a day. It's a lot of work but definitely has its rewards, he said. The shelter is inspected by the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
Lucci is lending a hand, hoping to spread the word about the shelter and the challenges Rhodes is facing, hoping to generate enough interest to recruit some volunteers and donations to keep the shelter open.
"Without a fully operational store, the needs of the shelter cannot be fully met. Without the support of the community through donations, the shelter will most definitely flounder too," Lucci.
Anyone interested can contact Paws Place for more information or make helping can contact Paws Place or can donate on PayPal at paypal.me/pawsplaceshelter.