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Chesterfield Mall claims boycott threat is why dog rescue isn’t opening

CHESTERFIELD, MO (KTVI) - An animal shelter that was set to open at the Chesterfield Mall has been told the deal is off. Mall officials say angry folks pressured them into making the reversal. The people at the shelter said dogs that need a home will ultimately suffer for it.

“I’m heartbroken and I’m horrified by the rescue community,” said Amanda Sheffield, who sits on the board for Diana’s Grove Dog Rescue, the state's largest no-kill animal shelter.

Sheffield’s hopes were high just days ago when Chesterfield Mall signed an agreement to let Diana’s Grove adopt dogs out of a store front on weekends. Diana’s Grove is located in southern Missouri. Everything was going well and then the mall lowered the boom.

“I feel helpless. I thought I had a solution. I worked hard for that solution,” Sheffield said.

In a letter, the mall said people had threatened to protest and boycott the mall if it permitted Diana’s Grove to open. Tara Baietto fosters dogs and was among the protesters. She expressed gratitude for the mall’s reversal.

“We’re very appreciative of the Chesterfield Mall for doing their research and changing their mind,” she said.

Problems for Diana’s Grove began when it adopted a dog that later died. The story spread like wildfire on the social media.

“These things are at best a twist on the truth and often flat out lies,” Sheffield said.

That led to the shelter being kicked out of a pet store for weekend adoptions. Then money troubles followed: no adoptions, no income.

“I don’t think they’re (the shelter) evil, they basically want to help the dogs,” said Tracy Rumpf, a protester who also fosters dogs. “I don’t think they’re taking the right steps.”

The shelter was in the news last month, when the Humane Society agreed to work with Diana’s Grove and take in 162 dogs. On Thursday night, the shelter still has 214 dogs, 50 of which are in foster care. The rest are in the shelter in southern Missouri.

“I don’t know where we go from here,” Sheffield said. “Just like we did before, we will send them elsewhere.”

Mall officials never returned phone calls seeking a comment. The two women who foster dogs said they know groups that would be willing to help the dogs at Diana’s Grove.