Jewish pet rescuer in Missouri helps find new homes for hundreds of dogs every year – St. Louis Jewish Light


You won’t find many Brooklyn Jews in southern Missouri between Willow Springs and Mountain View, about three hours southwest of St. Louis.

In fact, you won’t find many people between these towns of around 2,000 people each.

That’s not to say New York Jewess Betty Goldstein doesn’t have company.

Earlier this month, she had 25 dogs on her property.


At 76, she still runs a largely solo dog rescue operation. In an average year, she helps 200 to 300 dogs find homes, she said.

This work is particularly important, say its supporters, in a state that the Humane Society of the United States has ranked for the past nine years as the worst in the country in terms of the number of puppy mills.

“It’s not just the puppies that she saves,” said Judy Leventhal, who belongs to the Central Reform Congregation and adopted Goldstein’s dogs. “If there is an abandoned animal, if there is a stray animal, if there is someone who does not take care of the dog, she will take the pet no matter what … C is a saint for animals. “

Goldstein grew up in a Jewish quarter in the country’s largest city but “always loved being in the countryside,” she said.

She spent her summers milking cows and going horseback riding on a farm in Pennsylvania.

Goldstein moved to Missouri because his brother lived in Cape Girardeau and told him how “it was pretty”.

The brother picked up then 30-year-old Goldstein from the St. Louis airport and drove her to southern Missouri, where she searched for real estate listings. She found a property she loved in Bakersfield in the Ozarks, where she lived for three years.

Then she moved to Florida, where her parents lived, for a decade before returning to Missouri and buying property in Birch Tree, a town of less than 1,000 people in southwest Missouri.

Goldstein decided she wanted to adopt a rescue dog and found a Saint Bernard she liked in Kansas City. The organization wanted to make sure Goldstein’s property was safe for the dog, so they dispatched an inspector from Springfield.

The inspector went to lunch with Goldstein and told him, “You should get into the rescue. “

And that’s how it started.

Goldstein first carried out rescue transports, which she described as “a relay race where the dog is the witness”.

For example, Goldstein would drive 50-100 miles on the route from the dog’s origin in Springfield, Missouri to a foster home in New York City. She would then meet another volunteer who would still do about 50 miles.

About 20 years ago, Goldstein added fences around his house and began to visit local pounds and the Humane Society and rescued dogs. She would take the dogs to a vet to get the treatment he needed, then put him up for adoption.

“It gradually became a full-time activity,” said Goldstein, who named his organization Thistle Hill Rescue.

Goldstein charges a sliding scale based on the type of dog and earns enough money to cover his expenses.

She charges the most – up to $ 500 – for “cute little downs,” like Bichon Frize puppies. These help cover the expenses of larger, older dogs, which often require more expensive vet care and are more difficult to place in new homes. (People who adopt dogs that have not been spayed or neutered may receive a refund for a portion of the adoption fee once they prove the animal has undergone such a procedure.)

“After 20 years, I’ve pretty much figured out what I can charge for a dog that is still reasonable, still less than what you would pay for a dog if you went to a breeder or a pet store and still got out of it. head at the end of each month, ”Goldstein said.

Leventhal, who owns an advertising agency, found out about Thistle Hill through She said she was looking for a miniature dachshund and was ready to travel 200-300 miles.

Once the site alerted her about one in Thistle Hill, Leventhal visited and saw the condition of the dogs, and “it just warmed my heart,” she said.

Three days after Leventhal brought Rufus back to St. Louis, Goldstein called and said, “You won’t believe it. I also have his brother.

Leventhal therefore adopted Rusty as well.

“I could just tell how much love she was giving these animals. You can just tell by looking at them,” she said.

Thistle Hill Facebook page is filled with similar reviews.

“Betty is the most loving rescue owner I have ever met,” one person wrote. “She was so thorough throughout the adoption process and took the time to answer all of my questions. We drove 10 hours to pick up our new family member and I cannot thank her enough for all the hard work she does.

About a year ago, Goldstein moved to the property between Willow Springs and Mountain View to be closer to his vet, who passed away quickly.

Her new 3-acre property includes a 2,500 square foot building with a 6-by-12-foot kennel and six 10-by-10 kennels. This is where she keeps small dogs.

Betty Goldstein owns a 3 acre property in southern Missouri.

Large dogs are in a fenced yard.

Goldstein also has six small dogs, two large dogs, and two cats, which she all considers to be pets.

A couple visit twice a week and clean the kennels and make repairs, but if not, Goldstein does everything herself.

She lists her rescue dogs on sites like Adoptapet and and is usually able to find them homes.

But not always. Older, large, and mixed-breed dogs are the most difficult to place.

She recently had to euthanize a dog. He attacked dogs at the home of two people who attempted to adopt him, so they sent him back to Goldstein. She took him to the vet who shot him.

“I cry, and I hate to do it, and I don’t do it often. It’s only if a dog is too sick to be saved, ”she said.

Despite his concern for dogs and his experience with those who have been abused, Goldstein does not condemn commercial breeders.

“These are just people trying to make a living and feed their families. They are not bad people, ”she said.

Yet, according to the Humane Society report released in May, states have 21 puppy mills, which the organization defines as “a dog breeding operation, offering dogs for monetary compensation, in which the physical, psychological and / or behavioral needs of all or part of dogs are not routinely filled due to housing, shelter, staff, nutrition, socialization, sanitation, exercise, veterinary care and / or ‘inadequate inappropriate breeding. “

About a decade ago, Missouri voters passed Proposition B, a move to place more restrictions on the state’s dog breeding industry. But lawmakers in rural areas then passed legislation that eviscerated the law, despite outcry from groups such as the Humane Society.

Goldstein now says the key is to educate the public so that people stop buying puppies from pet stores or breeders.

“We need to educate the public about all these dogs being killed in shelters and pounds, taken into the woods and shot,” Goldstein said.

Stuck at home during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have adopted dogs. There were so many people that Goldstein sometimes only had two or three dogs available for adoption.

A few months ago, the bubble burst and the price of dogs fell again, Goldstein said.

“People have gone back to work, the children have gone back to school and the dogs are being dumped,” she said.

Betty goldstein

She still has a lot of dogs available for adoption again, which you can see here.

How long does Goldstein plan to continue her operation?

“I will do it until I can’t do it anymore,” she said. ” I like what I do ; it gives me a lot of free time between trips to the vet and shopping at Walmart to pick up food and shopping at Tractor Supply to pick up bedding and then more shopping to the vet. In between these moments, I can just relax in an armchair.

Even though this Goldstein no longer lives in the Brooklyn neighborhood where you could go around the corner and buy a knish, she said Judaism is still “absolutely” part of her identity.

And if you adopt a Goldstein dog in late November or early December this year, you’ll see a menorah at its window.

Sign in your morning light

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