Older pets without homes have a lot of cards stacked against them, but thanks to a few St. Louis Local 1 members, they have one more place to go and a better chance at finding a forever home.
|Second Chance Ranch is an all-volunteer-run nonprofit that takes in older dogs and cats to either live out their days at the rescue or get adopted by a new family. "Just because a dog is a rescue, it doesn't mean that they're broken. It just means that a human let them down. And our goal is to make up for that," said owner Tracy Rumpf, pictured with one of her rescue dogs.
|With the new addition, the rescue was able to move the smaller dogs it was keeping upstairs to the downstairs area and let the bigger dogs have the new space.
Local 1 member Steve Dintleman and Tracy Rumpf, the owner of Second Chance Ranch, have known each other since grade school. When she reached out to Dintleman for help with her senior pet rescue, he knew it would be time well spent.
"I've had dogs my whole life, and this is a great cause," said Dintleman, who works for signatory contractor Guarantee Electrical. "What Tracy does really goes above and beyond."
Started in 2021, Second Chance Ranch is an all-volunteer-run nonprofit that takes in older dogs and cats to either live out their days at the rescue or get adopted by a new family. Rumpf had rescued nearly 300 dogs as of late July, with about 80% being successfully adopted. The cats are a new endeavor that she just started.
"That's when they need us the most," Rumpf said in a video on the rescue's website about her elderly companions. "Just because a dog is a rescue, it doesn't mean that they're broken. It just means that a human let them down. And our goal is to make up for that."
When Rumpf decided to build an addition to the rescue, an old house that was donated, she reached out to her longtime friend for help with the electrical work. Knowing that Local 1 does a lot of volunteer jobs in the area, Dintleman initially approached Business Representative Chuck DeMoulin to see if the Electrical Connection could take it on.
The Electrical Connection is a partnership between Local 1 and the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association that donates electrical services to a wide range of charities and community organizations. Unfortunately, all its funding had been used for the year. But that didn't stop Dintleman.
"Steve wouldn't take no for an answer," DeMoulin said. "He was determined to keep pursuing it."
Thanks to an estimate that Local 1 member Tom Broderick of Authorized Electric did when they went to the Electrical Connection, Dintleman knew the job would cost about $30,000 — an astronomical sum for a small organization that relies on donations.
"There was no way we had a budget for that," Rumpf said.
So Dintleman enlisted another old friend, Local 1 member Todd VanCardo, who owns Precision Electric.
"I have a hard time telling people no," said VanCardo, who has dogs and a cat himself and has also known Rumpf for years. "My wife is a big animal lover, so she was excited about the job."
VanCardo got the permits while Dintleman tapped another signatory, Holt Electric, for a donation that covered the best part of the supplies.
"They saved us tens of thousands of dollars," Rumpf said. "Not only that, but they were so willing to do whatever we needed. They were such a blessing."
Dintleman and VanCardo, along with Dintleman's son, Josh, worked weekends and some weeknights from May until early July installing lights, receptacles, ceiling fans, heating and air conditioning in the 900-square-foot space.
"There wasn't much to it," VanCardo said. "But it made a big difference to the rescue."
With the new addition, the rescue was able to move the smaller dogs it was keeping upstairs to the downstairs area and let the bigger dogs have the new space. Since many of the volunteers themselves are also older, not having to take the stairs as much has been a big help, DeMoulin said.
"With the new addition, they can take in more dogs," Dintleman said. "Now, instead of being put down, more dogs and cats can be rescued and get their vet care, whatever they need."
For Dintleman, it was all straightforward.
"It needed to be done, and I know how to do it," he said. "I was taught a gift, and if I can help someone, I will. I enjoy the work."
It's a sentiment shared by VanCardo.
"How much do you really need? With the IBEW, we have a good standard of living," he said. "If we can bring that quality of life to others, even dogs and cats, that's pretty satisfying."
DeMoulin noted that a lot of animal rescues like Second Chance Ranch are small operations, so people don't always know about them and the work they do.
"What's better than trying to help a cat or a dog?" said DeMoulin, who has two rescue pets with his wife. "Then that animal can go on and help someone else."
Rumpf said a lot of the people who adopt their dogs are seniors themselves who have lost a spouse or their own senior dog.
"They're lonely, but they don't want a puppy with lots of energy, so a senior dog who wants love and has a lot of love to give is perfect," Rumpf said.
DeMoulin, Dintleman and VanCardo all said that giving back like this is par for the course in a tight-knit community like theirs.
"It's nice knowing people like this. We don't seem to have a lot of that these days," DeMoulin said. "It makes me very proud to be a part of the IBEW."
For more information on the rescue, go to secondchanceranchstl.org.