For two decades, Randy Grim has been rescuing animals of all kinds in St. Louis and helping to find them homes.
Grim has now expanded his operation to the metro-east with the opening of Randy’s Rescue Ranch, located at 1400 East U.S. Highway 50 in O’Fallon.
The ranch is “a dream come true” for Grim, as well as its current inhabitants, which currently totals 15 animals — both large and small — including dogs, cats, horses and cattle.
“I want to make the East Side and O’Fallon proud to have us here, and I’m looking forward to helping not just the animal world, but also the underdogs of the human world, too,” said Grim, who founded Stray Rescue of St. Louis 20 years ago.
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To showcase the new facility, Randy’s Rescue Ranch is having a “Barn Bash” for the public from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7.
“I just want people to come and see what I see — the possibility of greatness for good,” Grim said.
The event will have food, drinks, tours, live music and even special guests Brett Hull and Barret Jackman, former St. Louis Blues hockey players.
Grim said the property, which includes two small lakes, is a “nice, relaxing spot to sit and enjoy the music and animals.”
Near the welcome center, merchandise will be also available to help raise money for the ranch’s non-profit efforts.
“We are in need of donations or sponsors. People can visit the website www.strayrescue.org/randysrescueranch if they want, or they can make an appointment to visit, too,” Grim said.
The “Big H”
He calls the ranch the home of the “Big H,” with the letter dually symbolic for “healing home.”
The healing comes when people interact with the animals. A goal of Grim’s is to help kids with disabilities and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or other issues by helping care for the animals. It works, he said. Grim himself is a case study.
“When I’m here, I feel at ease. It’s just calm. I suffer from anxiety, but here I don’t feel it,” he said.
There are also two dogs at the ranch that are wheelchair-bound.
“My thinking was, take a 5- or 6-year-old kid who is in a wheelchair, and may not like it. Then they see a dog in one, too, who is still living happily, and I think there’s gonna be a bond there,” Grim said.
When Grim purchased the ranch from Tom Schmidt, who still visits and lends a helping hand, he didn’t want the seven cattle on the farm to go to slaughter. So, he settled on keeping them on the ranch to play a different role on the ranch — “therapy cows,” three of which are pregnant.
“Feeding the cattle, and really all of the animals, here in the early morning is kinda magical,” Grim said.
Through a Stray Rescue program called “The Bayou Project,” to help St. Landry Parish, Louisianna, Grim also rescued the equine members of the ranch menagerie.
“It’s the poorest parish (i.e. county) in Louisiana, and there’s no adoptions at all, no help. So we team up with them to help with large and small animals, as long as it doesn’t interfere with our own operations in terms of space,” Grim said.
Two ponies, named Gypsy and Homer, and two donkeys, a pregnant jenny and her son, Forest, are recuperating at Randy’s Rescue Ranch. The animals came to the ranch after being victims of “terrible abuse and neglect,” in addition to Hurricane Harvey displacements.
Gino Velazquez, of Collinsville, another ranch volunteer, has been taking care of them.
“I love the animals. I just want to help them,” said Velazquez, who has been around horses and ranches for decades and is also a champion jockey. “When they first got here they were scared, but in just a week they went from being shy and running away from us to coming right to me.”
In a couple weeks, Grim said another rescue from the Hurricane Harvey aftermath will be joining the ranks — a goat.
In memory of a dog named Panda that died of cancer, Grim is renovating the three-bedroom, 150-year-old farmhouse on the ranch to a hospice sanctuary for senior or sick dogs.
“So they don’t have to die uncomfortably on a floor or in a kennel,” Grim said. “Here, they will find comfort and affection.”
A welcoming community
Grim said he has “grown to love O’Fallon in these past weeks,” so much that he plans to make O’Fallon his home for good.
“I looked at a lot of beautiful properties and places all over, and honestly, this location was smaller than I wanted with its 20 acres, but what really swayed me was the people in this town — everyone is so kind and helpful, and welcoming in O’Fallon,” Grim said.
According to Grim, “That’s sayin’ a lot.
“Cause I’m from the city. So I guess you could say I’m a city boy learning how to be a country boy now. It’s all just been amazing,” he said.
Stray Rescue of St. Louis members Helga Solich, of Caseyville, said she and her husband John are excited for the new animal shelter close to home.
“We visited recently when we heard about it, and I think it’s great work they are doing. It should be a real nice situation for stray rescue on the Illinois side,” Helga Scolich said.
Grim said if it wasn’t for the outpouring of local volunteers, the ranch wouldn’t have been able to be open already.
“I’m trying to keep all the volunteers on this side of the river, because I want to be apart of the community here,” he said.
Paul Scimone, a veterinarian nurse certified in Missouri who has worked with Stray Rescue for about seven years, said community support in O’Fallon has been great.
“We really appreciate the support of the community we’ve gotten thus far, and we’re really looking forward to growing and evolving with the city of O’Fallon,” Scimone said.
For more information or to volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 314-546-4485.
Randy’s Rescue Ranch open house
What: The open house celebration is open to the public and will offer special guests, live music, food, drinks and tours.
When: 3 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7
Where: 1400 E. U.S. Highway 50 in O’Fallon
For more information: Visit strayrescue.org/randysrescueranch, email email@example.com or call 314-546-4485.