may not be a celebrity, but she has thousands of admirers.
Had it not been for her compassion, vision and hard work,
Open Door Animal Sanctuary would not exist today. And if
not for Open Door, literally thousands of injured, abandoned
and unwanted cats and dogs would have perished either in
the elements or at the hands of other animal organizations.
In the early 1970s, Joan rented property in Chesterfield
where she housed unwanted animals. Together with other concerned
animal lovers, she also began a 24-hour-a-day rescue mission
that covered territories other organizations could not cover.
When word of her efforts became public, people brought her
more animals. The operation grew very quickly.
Soon Joan teamed up with Carol Perkins, wife of the late
Marlin Perkins, former host of Wild Kingdom and director
of the St. Louis Zoo. Together the two women built a support
system for the animals including dedicated veterinarians
and volunteers. They moved the operation to House Springs,
and in 1975 they decided to incorporate. Open Door Animal
Sanctuary was born.
Joan and her comrades hired a staff and held fund raisers.
People began to recognize Open Door for all its hard work.
Some sent donations. Others volunteered. Open Door continued
With Open Door's increased population came financial hardship.
Its continued existence weighed heavily on the generosity
of supporters. With a loyal membership, however, Open Door
always managed to prevail. One supporter, George Menos,
went as far as to pay off Open Door's mortgage and lease
it back to the sanctuary for $1.00 a year. This continued
until late 1990 when a generous donation allowed Open Door
to purchase the property back from Menos. Open Door grew
Although it has experienced many changes over the years,
Open Door remains true to its original principles. Every
animal that enters the Open Door has a home. Every animal
has its physical and emotional needs satisfied. And thanks
to the efforts of Joan Costello and those who shared her
dream, every animal gets another chance at life.