Is it a retail store or an animal shelter? Well, it’s actually both — and a little bit more. At Lucky Puppy in Studio City, California, not only can you shop for a wide variety of high-end dog accessories while your pooch spends time at its puppy spa, you also can find something more special: a new family member.
That’s right: Amidst the luxurious dog beds and gourmet treats is a deeper mission, that of rescuing dogs from local kill shelters and bringing them into the store, where they will have a better, if not lifesaving, chance to be rehomed.
“After being in rescue for a number of years, I knew that there had to be a better way to allow rescue dogs to meet families who might want to adopt them,” says founder Rachel Kennedy. “The shelters are scary for dogs, and most people walk away from shelters when they see so many dogs scared and barking in cages. I realized that I wanted Lucky Puppy to be like a Disneyland for dogs. A place that was fun and pretty, where kids and families could come and meet the dogs in a happy and cheerful environment.”
Kennedy’s better way is working, with a staggering 825 adoptions happening in the last two years, thanks to Lucky Puppy’s convenient location on Ventura Boulevard and to the publicity associated with the celebrities who have found new canine family members there, such as Gary Oldman, Cybill Shepherd, Jamie Alexander, Tyler Posey, and Grant Gustin.
To further its broader mission of reducing the number of homeless dogs in its community, Lucky Puppy also offers a free training class twice a month to anyone who wants to attend, and an expansion project is under way to open Rehab Ranch. The rehab and training center in northern Santa Clarita will provide training to clients and rescues and also host camps and day trips for inner-city students. To pull of all this off, Lucky Puppy puts 100 percent of the profits from its retail store and spa into the rescue and the sister nonprofit rescue organization, The Poopie Foundation.
The love that Lucky Puppy doles out is reciprocated. “The community has embraced Lucky Puppy in such a loving way — it’s overwhelming at times,” Kennedy says. “They take care of us in everything from dropping off cleaning products, food, treats, and toys to kids holding lemonade stands and raising money on their own to help our pups. Every day, we see kids and parents from the community — we have an amazing core group of regulars as well as great new folks coming in every day.”
With young volunteers coming in with their parents to walk dogs and teenagers looking to fulfill their volunteer commitment hours, Lucky Puppy also is helping to instill a sense of responsibility and compassion in the youth of Studio City. Kids aren’t the only ones getting in on the action, either. Along with Sarah Silverman and David Hasselhoff, anyone who takes a stroll down Ventura Avenue has the opportunity to shower a little love on a pup waiting for his forever home.
Lucky Puppy doesn’t just help the dogs in its care. Just this past July, the store got a call from a concerned community member who spotted a small white Maltipoo trapped inside a Los Angeles riverbed. A few staff members headed over in the 105-degree-Fahrenheit heat and found the dog trapped by 15-foot high cement walls with a fence on top.
They were able to drop food and water down to the dog, but he decided he had had enough of the situation and wanted to be with his would-be rescuers. With all his might, he took a flying leap toward them -– and didn’t make it. He fell into the water and was washed away with the current. Kennedy, who had just arrived on the scene with the fire department, screamed to them that the dog had fallen in. With the fire department racing to the locked access gate, they were able to rescue him in the nick of time. There’s no denying that Lucky Puppy earned his name.
Even though it’s only two years old, Lucky Puppy has proven to be innovative and successful in the world of rescue. With the Rehab Ranch’s imminent opening and plans to host a series of therapy dog classes to certify volunteers and rescue dogs to help in senior centers and hospitals, it also will continue to expand on its mission of combining community outreach with saving furry little lives.
Lucky Puppy may soon be looking for a new location, though. With an old ventilation system and a complaining neighbor, the landlord wants the tenants and pups of Lucky Puppy to pack up and leave. Kennedy isn’t sure where they’ll go. “It’s expensive to move, and obviously Christmas is not the time for a retail shop to be moving to a new location.”
Thankfully Lucky Puppy’s friends are turning out to help. “The support has been wonderful,” Kennedy says. “Adopters are coming forward to find out what they can do. One of our amazing adopters is married to a contractor/architect, who sent his staff out to find out how we can fix the insulation and keep our neighbors happy. Everyone seems to be sharing our story and trying to help keep us where we are.”
The community understands the need for Lucky Puppy to stay, because saving canine lives doesn’t stop at the exit doors. But in order to continue the lifesaving mission, Lucky Puppy needs a place in which to work its miracles, and staff are hoping that place will continue to be within the community that has embraced them so much.
To follow the amazing work Lucky Puppy does, visit its website and Facebook page. And if you would like to join in the compassionate community that Lucky Puppy has built, please join them in raising the funds needed to stay where they are, in the place where they have planted their hearts.
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About the author: Eden Strong is a quirky young woman with a love for most animals with fur. She readily admits to living her life completely devoid of most social graces. More of her crazy antics can be read on her blog, It Is Not My Shame to Bear.