Fostering a Love for Animals

Story & Photos by Kathleen Kaiser Contributing WriterMarch 6, 2013 

Many of us, including myself, are very excited that the St. Louis Blues are back on the ice. While David Backes, Captain of the Blues, was participating in negotiations, his wife Kelly was back here in St. Louis, holding down the fort and focusing on one of her passions - spreading awareness and helping find homes for shelter animals across the region. I had the opportunity to talk one-on-one with Kelly and discuss a little about her life here in the Metropolitan St. Louis area, and her love of four-legged friends.

Q: Kelly, Would you mind sharing a little about yourself with the readers of Lipstik?

A: Most definitely. I was born and raised in Blaine, Minnesota with my younger brother Kory. My parents taught me at a young age how to be compassionate towards animals, as we always had pets around growing up. As much as I loved growing up in Minnesota, I definitely don’t miss the below freezing temperatures, I now enjoy the much more mild winters in St. Louis. David and I have known each other since Kindergarten, as our moms were on the PTA together. We were actually both captains of our high school hockey teams. We started dating when we were seniors in high school and he took me to prom. I attended Minnesota State University in Mankato, MN and graduated with a degree in Community Health Science. David attended there too, until he left to play with the Blues in 2006.

Q: When did you arrive in St. Louis and what are your thoughts about this area?

A: I moved to St. Louis shortly after David and I got engaged in 2007. The Blues organization and the entire St. Louis Metropolitan community has been so inviting and welcoming. I have loved being a part of this community ever since I arrived. St. Louis has become our “home” over the years. I also decided to return to school while living here. In 2010, I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from St. Louis University and I am a state licensed RN. Now, when David decides to hang up his skates, I can venture into the world of making a difference in people’s lives and make my own mark on the world. Well, that’s the plan right now anyway......

Q: Can you tell the readers of Lipstik a little about what your life is like being married to a professional athlete?

A: It probably isn’t much different than being married to anyone else, other than a few minor things. When the Blues are in season, David travels extensively for 9 months out of the year, which most husbands don’t do. The other difference may be dealing with the “Celebrity” that comes with my husband being the Captain of the St. Louis Blues. There are so many incredible hockey fans here in St. Louis, and when they see us out, they just naturally want to approach us and get an autograph or picture with David. There are a few more distractions while we are out on the town, but overall we are just two normal people. I enjoy this part of our lives and meeting the fans - they are always so excited and gracious to meet us. With that said, we have both found that we appreciate the time we have when we can have a moment alone, just the two of us. During the lockout this year, it was a tough time for him and his teammates, the fans and all involved, as they were missing out on months of playing and watching the game they love. But I have to admit, I did enjoy the holidays this year. Since David started his professional career in hockey, we have never been able to have an entire Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday to spend with our family and friends. Typically, you know that you have about a day or two before he will be back on the road playing, so you try to fit in as much as possible, in such a short time frame. We both appreciated having the time this year to be with our loved ones, and not have to rush around. We also strive to keep our lines of communication going at all times, We are constantly using technology to stay in touch with one another while David is on the road. When he is here, we try to turn off our phones, and make time to really connect with one another. During the off season, we unwind and enjoy our summer home in Minnesota. It is nice to take a few months to reboot and get ready for the next season ahead.

Q: How did you and your husband get involved with animal rescue, starting David’s Dogs and Kelly’s Kats and being involved with Five Acres Animal Shelter?

A: Our involvement with animal rescues started back when we were in college. We would volunteer to walk dogs and do odd jobs around the shelter that was located in Mankato, MN. When we arrived in St. Louis we wanted to get involved with the community immediately and not waste the great platform that David has as a professional athlete. Initially we started out at by helping a few area shelters and fostering animals until they found their forever home. We stumbled into a relationship with Five Acres Animal Shelter, which was known as the St. Charles Humane Society at the time. David and I could tell that there was a lot of promise and great hearts within the organization and knew we could aid them with their cause. With the backing of the St. Louis Blues, we started David’s Dogs and Kelly’s Kats as a way to give back to the community and bring adoption awareness and support for the dogs and cats at the shelter. This program provided us with the opportunity to educate the public on the importance of shelters like Five Acres, and other rescue facilities throughout the St. Louis Metropolitan area. As my passion has always been for furry little ones, we personally have 4 dogs and 2 cats at home and have also successfully fostered over 20 dogs as well. Since the organization does not receive government assistance, I have been working, in conjunction with Kim Brown, the shelter’s Executive Director, their Board of Directors, staff and volunteers, to help improve public relations and fundraising. The Organization also embarked upon a capital campaign to obtain the necessary monetary funding needed to remodel some of the facilities and build additional areas to take care of the over 115 animals at the shelter. Within the last 2 years, the facility was rebranded as Five Acres Animal Shelter. There is now a brand new lobby and canine building and just last year they helped nearly 600 pets find their forever homes. The overwhelming support of the over 350 volunteers and dozens of foster families from our community and surrounding areas has been amazing. The facility could not operate without the generous giving of their time, love and support for the animals who temporarily call Five Acres home.

Q: Since Five Acres has grown by leaps and bounds with your assistance, any other plans to help out more four-legged friends?

A: Actually, we are presently forming our own public charity, so that we can help out more facilities across Missouri, in our home state of Minnesota and hopefully across the entire United States. Being in the public eye gives you an incredible opportunity to really make a difference in the lives of so many, including the animals of this world that need our help. We are hoping with this new organization, to make an even bigger impact in the lives of our companion animal friends.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

A: Absolutely, I want to tell your readers and all of the St. Louis Blues fans throughout the St. Louis Metropolitan area thank you. Thank you for being supportive of the work that we have done in the community and with the St. Louis Blues. The Midwest is filled with so many loving and giving individuals, I am so proud to call St. Louis home. Thank you for being supportive of David’s Dogs and Kelly’s Kats. Without the fantastic community support in and around St. Louis, we would never have been able to touch the lives of so many animals in need. Being able to turn my passion for animals into making a real difference in their lives, has been a dream come true. I look forward to continuing my passion for years to come, until maybe I have to slow down a little to take care of a baby Backes or two.......who knows what the future may hold?!

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