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Cause For Paws

Store owner Adair Sue Smith Sturgis (lower) and one of the store’s regular volunteers, Rowada Tuma, invite all pet owners to dress up their critters and stop by for a Halloween pet costume contest between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Oct. 31. The store will award $50 certificates to the best-dressed cat and dog. Trick-or-treaters are also welcome that day.

Those who know Adair Sue Smith Sturgis’ passion for animals will not be surprised to hear this story.

There she was, sifting through the debris in tornado-ravaged Pilger, Neb., this summer when a security person approached her, pointed to a warning sign and said, “Lady, don’t you know you're not supposed to be there? That’s not safe."

Sturgis continued to search. There were animals’ lives at stake here, and no warning sign was going to stand in the way of finding frightened animals and returning them to their rightful owners.

It wasn’t long before she found two kittens in the basement of the storm-damaged home. A tearful reunion ensued. Mission accomplished.

Combing the grounds on the first day that volunteers were allowed to help in Pilger, Sturgis acknowledged the danger. But in her eyes, the reward exceeded the risk.

“At that moment, I felt that if I die this way, that’s the way it was supposed to be,” she reflected.

Passionate about pets

Selling her successful spa business a half-dozen years ago, Sturgis felt a calling in life to do good for others. Always passionate about pets, the owner of three dogs (she’s allergic to cats) filled a boutique with donated items and set up shop in December 2008 in Old Cheney Plaza. She decided to earmark the store’s profits to animals and their financially-stressed owners.

When an outpouring of donations caused the store to burst at its seams, she expanded. When the merchandise continued to roll in, she signed a 5-year lease at 2445 S. 48th St. and moved on March 1 to a former Blockbuster Video location, next door south of Ramo’s Pizza and Buster’s BBQ.

She committed to the new site before her lease in Old Cheney Plaza expired. Having lived with the stress of double payments for rent and utilities, she’s now out from under the original lease, effective Aug. 30.

With the move behind her and 5,700 square feet of space filled and attractively displayed, she’s back to doing what she loves: helping animals and helping agencies that help animals. She’s writing $1,000 monthly checks to Capital Humane Society and giving regularly to The Cat House, Hearts United for Animals, and Lincoln Animal Ambassadors. She’s also helping down-on-their-luck pet owners with veterinary bills, and pitching in where she can to make sure animals are spayed and neutered.

She’s also been able to give clothing and housewares to causes such as the Good Neighbor Community Center and St. Teresa’s Thrift Shop. She’s also given inventory to her former landlord, Marlyn Schwartz, to take along on his Maranatha mission trips, building schools and churches in Third World countries.

Need shoppers

She’d like to do more. She needs more shoppers to make that happen.

“The more we sell, the more good we can do,” she says.

“We’re not a secondhand store, we’re a boutique, with a great selection of clothing, housewares, and jewelry. People who give us a try, usually come back … the biggest challenge is to get them here the first time.”

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