Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

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The increasingly dire situation for southern Illinois animals

Mo Collar
Savannah, a pitbull dumped on the doorstep one early morning, is hugged by STAAR founding member Ali Rippin Nov. 1, 2023 at Striegel Animal Hospital in Carbondale, Ill.

We’ve all seen it. The rise in prices. The increasing demand for affordable housing and food. The market value of most items going up. The more we struggle to make ends meet, the more we can’t afford to keep things dear to us. Our furry, scaley or feathery best friends are taking this hit hard and so many of us just can’t afford to keep them safe anymore.

Shelters and rescues have been filled to the brim with the influx of animals previously owned by a pet parent that no longer has the money to keep them safe and healthy. Many of these shelters have had to resort to euthanasia to make room for healthier and more adoptable animals that don’t cost as much to house.

Over the past couple of months, more and more pets have been found dumped outside veterinary clinics, animal rescues, shelters and even Petco because people simply can’t afford to take care of their pet or don’t know where else to go when they find a stray. Similarly, people have been abandoning their pets after they move out without informing anyone about the situation.


Just over the summer, a younger pitbull mix dog was abandoned at a Schilling Apartments complex after the owner moved a few blocks away from University Hall. This dog was left caged outside on one of the hottest days of the year for around eight hours before a resident took control of the situation. Fortunately, the dog was able to find a home that day, but not all animals get that lucky.

Across town, one such dog named Leroy had been found in an abandoned home after some new owners moved in.

“He had been left in the home for a little over a week with no food or water and was pretty much on death’s doorstep… It was pretty touch and go for a while. He had a feeding tube in and his blood work values were pretty bad,” said Ali Rippin, co-owner of Save Them All Animal Rescue.

Fortunately, through Save Them All Rescue, or STAAR for short, Leroy was able to get back on his feet and recover enough to live a healthy life again.

“The feeding tube was the last kind of ‘let’s hope and pray’ because his body had gotten so used to not having any food and shutting down, but now he’s full of attitude and lives at my house permanently doing fantastic,” Rippin said.

Oftentimes, owners want the absolute best for their pets, but some pets end up developing major health issues that they can’t afford to fix and so they are surrendered to the clinic or a nearby rescue.

Lizzy Olmsted, the other co-owner of STAAR, described a situation involving a kitten named King that was diagnosed with feline infectious peritonitis.


“That one was also very touch and go, he had a chest tube in for a couple of weeks because his lungs just kept filling up with fluid,” Olmsted said. “Lots of injections and medications, lots of holding him all the way through the night and just praying he would make it to the next morning, and now he is the most rambunctious little stinker I’ve ever met.”

Animals such as these are what keep STAAR motivated to keep going even though not all the stories have such happy endings. Whether it’s an animal surrender, a dumping, an abandonment issue, or simply helping reduce the numbers of animals in packed shelters, this veterinarian- owned rescue has stepped up to the daunting task of helping these animals in need.

Most volunteer-run rescues and shelters don’t have the medical knowledge or available equipment and medicine to take on cases with animals that have some sort of medical issue. Due to this fact, many of the animals in poor health aren’t able to receive the proper treatment they need and end up lost to time.

“Our big thing is that we’re veterinary technicians, so we are able to take on more of the critical cases… we’re in a position sometimes where, unfortunately, on our night shifts people can’t afford certain things or don’t care about certain things that are treatable, just too costly, and we can give them a chance to do well and go on to find forever homes,” Rippin said.

Around 75 to 80 animals have been saved thanks to STAAR since July 6 of this year, 10 of which were dumped. Contrary to popular belief, the rescuers operate out of their own homes as a foster system, not through Striegel Animal Hospital as many have come to believe. This means that close to 100 animals have almost exclusively been under STAAR’s medical care out of the comfort of their own homes.

Thousands of animals such as these are dealt similar fates in southern Illinois, and millions more across the country thanks to the cost of living continuing to rise without the increase in pay to compensate for the economic crisis this country is facing. Our pets are suffering as much as we are in this trying time, but thanks to rescue services such as Save Them All Animal Rescue, some of these animals get a second chance.

Pet owners in need or those wanting to adopt or foster a pet can turn to the following resources:


Wright Way Animal Rescue

Humane Society of Southern Illinois

St. Francis Care


Staff reporter and photographer Mo Collar can be reached at [email protected] or on Instagram @m0.alexander.


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