Love Your Pet Expo Shop — Not Your Average Thrift Store
By Richard DuPertuis
Story and photos by Richard DuPertuis
A woman walks into a new Redding thrift store. She brushes past displays of bedding for pets, toys for pets, ceramic cats potted with live wheatgrass for pets, and heads straight for a man standing behind the counter. As she faces him, her elbow nearly bumps a red, zippered pouch, one of several hanging from a display tree on the counter. These are pet first aid kits, hand-assembled by the store owner.
The Love Your Pet Expo shop is no ordinary thrift store.
The woman asks counterman Stan Ball what she should do about a dog’s behavioral problems. “My son got a coon dog,” explains Sheryl Armstrong. “He’s really hyper. He chews things.” Stan Ball calls to his wife, who’s arranging hardware displays in the back of the store. Katie Ball refers Armstrong to her favorite dog trainer. “At least once a day someone comes in asking for help with animals,” she says afterward. “This is my passion, pets and their safety.”
And not just any pets. “We do find forever homes for some,” she says. “But we specialize in blind and other special-needs animals. We take what no one else wants.”
The Balls’ thrift shop is a new funding arm for their five-year-old nonprofit, Love Your Pet Expo Sanctuary, Inc. “It’s called Expo because that’s where it all started,” explains Katie. “The 2007 Expo was my gift to the community.” She describes her annual April event at the Shasta District Fairgrounds as a fun get-together for pets and their owners, as well as a source of information for a vast range of animal issues. Today, Love Your Pet Expo serves as a hub among county animal control shelters and other animal well-being nonprofits all over Northern California.
“These groups run their own adoption programs,” says Katie. “They are self-sufficient, until they get to a special needs animal. That’s when we get the phone calls.”
Proceeds from the shop and the expo go toward operations of the Love Your Pet Expo Sanctuary on a plot of land in unincorporated Shasta County north of Redding. Here, all the animals that no one else wants are tended by Katie and many members of her family, who all moved up from Southern California together in 1999. “Stan and me and my father, Bob, and my mother, Sue,” she lists. “And my daughter, Amanda, my brother, Ed, and his wife, Elizabeth.”
It’s another morning, and feeding time at the sanctuary. Katie’s father, Bob Molthop, is sprinkling seed from a plate for the chickens, which he says were rescued from an egg plant. Near him stands a small brown and cream-colored dog, Tanner, who keeps an ear on things. “He was blind when we got him,” says Bob. “He also had a broken jaw. Someone had kicked him.” Here, the once-abused dog is pampered like a family pet.
Over in a fenced run, a larger dog, Blinker, barks excitedly and prances about as he noses and swats a ball around. “He’s herding,” calls Katie. “He loves it.” She explains his breed normally steers a herd from the head and that ball, which he cannot see, exercises those instincts.
Blinker the blind dog joins Gibbs the deaf dog in a fenced yard, where Katie demonstrates how she communicates with them both. She speaks and signs at the same time. “We have a language that we taught him when he was little,” she says, referring to Blinker. “‘Careful’ means something uncomfortable is coming up, like a rose bush. ‘Ho!’ means stop, now, for safety.” As she coaxes Blinker to sit up, she signs for Gibbs, so he knows what’s going on. “I sign and speak because I forget who I’m talking to,” she says with a laugh. “I do the same with the horses and ponies.”
The last stop on the tour is indoors. Katie kneels before a slatted door, which secures animals in what she calls the sanctuary’s intensive care unit. A cat’s paw pops through the slats and swats playfully at her hand. “This is Snickers,” she says. “He just had an eye removed. We also use this room to introduce new cats. They can still play with the other cats. They don’t feel isolated.”
Back at the shop, Ed Molthop points at items not often seen in a thrift store, samples from his own World War II model collection. Also housed behind glass are African carvings, carried home by other family members and now donated to the cause. Ed’s wife Elizabeth says, “We have a lot of stuff because we traveled so much. There comes a point where you’ve loved it as much as you are going to love it, and it’s time for someone else to love it.”
Love Your Pet Thrift Shop
2275 Eureka Way, Redding
(530) 515-6262 • www.loveyourpetexpo.com
Closed Sundays and Mondays