Neighbors called Stray Rescue of St. Louis after they heard howling coming from inside the building.

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adopted stray that was trapped inside an abandoned school with his new pet parents
Credit: Courtesy of Stray Rescue of St. Louis

Stray Rescue of St. Louis has tasked itself with a particularly difficult mission. The organization takes in dogs that no one else will help or who are at risk of euthanasia. Many of these pups have suffered abuse, and have been forced to fight, been abandoned, or are injured.

Saving animals with such particularly harsh pasts is a labor of love that can make for some heartbreaking stories. But amongst that heartbreak comes some equally uplifting successes—like the rescue of Teacher's Pet, the dog who was trapped in an abandoned school last month.

"Teacher's Pet was actually called in by a couple of ladies who lived in the area," Natalie Thomson, Stray Rescue's director of marketing, tells Daily Paws. "They had heard howling from the school, so they called us. There were actually two dogs in the building when we arrived, but Teacher's Pet was the only one who appeared to be trapped."

As you can see in the Oct. 21 rescue video, Teacher's Pet stood at a second floor window, watching the team approach. The school's doors were barred, making entry difficult, and an open first floor window led to a 20-foot drop to the floor below. Eventually, the rescue team opted to climb into a second story window via ladder. Donna Lochmann, Stray Rescue's chief rescuer and photographer, led the way, whistling to try and coax the dog to come to her. 

"Our rescuer literally just drives around the North City and East St. Louis areas [in search of dogs who need help] anytime she has time," Thomson says. "Donna has been doing this for 20 years, and she really has a knack for it. A lot of these dogs are starving and eager for help. Her secret weapon is Vienna Sausages." 

It wasn't long after the team got inside the school building that Teacher's Pet timidly peeked around a corner of a stairwell. 

Thin and scared, the hungry pupper had obviously been in the empty building for a while, based on the amount of poop and debris the team observed, as well as his extremely thin appearance. Even after they were able to gain his trust with some tasty treats, rescuers still had a precarious job ahead of them. The team then had to pick Teacher's Pet up and get him out the same second-floor window they had come in through and back down the ladder.

Eventually, the whole team was back outside, in their van, and headed back to the shelter where recovery could begin.

"The animals we rescue all get vaccines and a vet evaluation—we're very fortunate to have a clinic on site—then our team will work with them on how to walk on a leash," Thomson says. After that, healthy animals can either be fostered out for continued socialization and care, or placed with a forever home though adoption.

The veterinary clinic shows how much Stray Rescue has grown since it was founded in 1998. The nonprofit now includes more than 60 staff, 1,000 volunteers, and some 400 foster families in and around the St. Louis area, all committed to helping the city's stray and feral animal population find loving, stable homes. And that's exactly what happened to Teacher's Pet! 

The former stray, who's now named Ollie, found his forever family earlier this week. From the looks of the photos the rescue organization shared on social media, he is so happy to be heading home. 

"He doesn't remember being all alone, scared, and starving in that school," Stray Rescue's Facebook post reads. "All he knows is what's happening now and he is SPOILED!"

Stray Rescue's Landfill Mission

Adult dogs and cats aren't the rescue's only concern. When a local landfill recently began seeing a pack of stray dogs frequenting the facility, its staff called Stray Rescue. While the team has been thus far unable to lay eyes on any of the adult dogs, they have been able to rescue six puppies over two different trips to the landfill, with a solid assist from some helpful landfill workers and a bit of heavy machinery.

"The adults are very savvy when it comes to trapping," Thomson says. "But the workers at the landfill are all dog lovers and have been great about calling us to come out and rescue these puppies."

The puppies will undergo the same level of care and treatment as the adult dogs, including vaccinations and spaying and neutering, before living in foster homes to acclimate to humans and then being put up for adoption. Stray Rescue has both dogs and cats of all ages available for adoption.

Interested in adopting a pooch from St. Louis Stray Rescue? The organization is offering free adoption fees to potential pet parents thanks to sponsors like Tito's Handmade Vodka. Who knows, one of those rescued landfill puppies' forever homes might be yours!