It’s a flurry of activity this morning at the Best Friends shop in Baker City.
Outside, local youth help unload bag after bag of pet food.
Inside, workers organize and price donated items as customers browse the inventory.
This shop, called Rescued Treasures, supports the mission of Best Friends of Baker Inc., a nonprofit organization focused on the welfare of animals, including medical needs, foster care, and placement.
The store is open Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon, and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is located at 2950 Church St., just west of 10th Street near the old Sumpter Valley Railroad depot.
The shop occupies the front half of the space with a variety of donated items including books, clothes (including a wedding dress), shoes, stuffed animals, artwork, dishes and seasonal decor (the Christmas decorations are coming out of storage).
They also have musical instruments.
“We’d really like to sell that piano,” said Mary Boyer, who helps run the store.
They accept donations during store hours or donors can call or text 541-519-7387.
“We take stuff in good condition and clean, or new,” Boyer said. “We also like decent furniture — we’re low on that right now.”
They could also use some extra hands.
“It would be wonderful to have volunteers,” said Karen Skeen, who also helps run the shop.
Funds raised by sales from the store go first to pay the rent. The rest supports the mission of helping animals.
“Anything not for the rent goes to pet food and the animals,” Boyer said.
In addition to store donations, Best Friends also accepts bottles and cans during store hours.
At the rear of the shop is a reminder of why the store exists — to help animals.
Jane Barrett, a volunteer with Best Friends, leans in close to a kennel and talks to a kitten curled against the door.
This is where Best Friends can keep cats — dry, warm and fed — awaiting adoption if no foster families are available.
Currently the group has 10 foster homes for dogs, and 10 for cats.
“We desperately need more,” said Carmen Ott, a long-time volunteer with Best Friends.
Ott said few people realize the work of Best Friends — especially when it comes to rescuing animals from euthanization.
In the past, an impounded animal was euthanized after five days if not claimed, per city ordinance.
Best Friends helped get that ordinance changed.
“Best Friends takes out every adoptable dog,” Ott said.
The organization also pays to have the animals spayed or neutered and vaccinated — an average cost of $300 for dogs and $150 for cats.
Help with food
On a recent trip to Boise, Ott and Barrett loaded the Best Friends van with bags of food for dogs, cats, puppies and kittens, as well as kitty litter — all free of charge from the Idaho Humane Society.
“Maybe close to a thousand pounds,” Ott said.
Those bags now fill shelves in the storage space of the store, and will be distributed to animal foster families, those who care for feral cats, and people who need a little extra help feeding their pets.
“People who need pet food but have a limited income,” Barrett said.
This back room is also filled with kennels and cat houses created from thick plastic foam boxes that can be loaned to local residents.
A stack of transport crates tell the other story of Best Friends, which is the many miles these volunteers log to take animals to specific breed rescues, or join a relay to move an animal across the country.
“It’s nothing for us to use weekends to drive dogs and cats,” Ott said.
All the work of Best Friends is done by volunteers, and Ott said they are always in need of more.
“Last but not least, we need helpers. We’re not spring chickens,” she said with a smile.