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  • Tara Crutchfield

Goin’ to the Dogs

At a downtown Auburndale thrift boutique, purchases benefit adoptable pups. It really is Goin’ to the Dogs! This charming thrift store on Auburndale’s Main Street sells donated items to benefit Crossed Paws Pet Rescue. The rescue, started by Stephanie Badillo, takes in homeless and abandoned dogs and finds them a forever home.

Stephanie Badillo had been rescuing dogs at her home for ten years before starting Crossed Paws Pet Rescue in 2017. “My dogs aren’t dogs that come from people. Some do, but most of my dogs are from the ditches, the woods, some really late nights in some really scary places, and most of my dogs come in pregnant. I’ve had eleven litters at one time,” she said. When she rescues dogs, Badillo gets them veterinary care, has them microchipped, spayed or neutered, and has them treated for any injuries or illnesses. No matter how many thousands of dollars she spends rehabilitating an animal, the adoption fee is always $300.


Dog lover and owner of Goin’ to the Dogs Thrift Shoppe, Mariann Motola, met Badillo about five years ago. “I started following another rescue in Bakersfield, California called Marley’s Mutts,” said Motola. Appreciative of their work from afar, she wanted to do the same good in her community, so she Googled ‘pet rescue Auburndale’ and Crossed Paws was the first result. “I liked what she was doing. She was the only rescue in this whole area. I got to know her, and one of the things that she constantly needed was funding,” said Motola. Funding was essential to cover vet bills and the expenses of running a kennel with 70 dogs.

Motola suggested they open a thrift shop selling donated items to help meet that financial need. It just so happened that her husband had a space in downtown Auburndale that would make a great thrift store. Shortly after announcing the opening of Goin’ to the Dogs Thrift Shoppe on social media, supporters of Crossed Paws Pet Rescue showered them with enough donations to fill two storage units.

According to Motola, “All the money that comes in goes directly to Crossed Paws Pet Rescue. [...] My ideal plan was to always pay the rent over at the kennel.” Since opening in August of 2019, they’ve been able to do that almost every month, with a surplus to cover utilities, food, and veterinary expenses some months as well.

“Everything in the store has been donated,” said Motola. “I don’t purchase anything.” The Goin’ to the Dogs owner says her aim for the store is to be a thrift boutique for lightly used items from adult clothing, home décor, and jewelry to books, DVDs, CDs, and an entire back wall of dog products. She says the store’s demographic tends to be women aged 20-60 – all dog lovers, of course. The volunteer-run store is open Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 11 am to 4 pm.


“I just picked up a mother dog and four puppies dumped off 80 Foot Road,” shared Badillo. Unfortunately, tragic situations like this aren’t infrequent. “The laws have to change,” said the Crossed Paws Pet Rescue owner. “They need to require spay and neuter and require people to take control of their actions with their dogs.”

Motola added, “And they all need to be microchipped. That way, we can locate the owner, and then if the dogs are dumped, they have to take responsibility for them.”

Adopting a dog through Crossed Paws is a purposefully stringent process. “We have an adoption application that must be filled out, and we do not adopt until we know everything about those people,” said Motola. This includes finding out what kind of dog a person or family is looking for, verifying their address, and speaking to the landlord if they have one. “Some people get upset by this. Some people don’t want to adopt from us because of the process that we have, but it’s pretty strict,” said Badillo.

Badillo wants to ensure that each of her dogs ends up with the right family, even going as far as Maine to get them there. She’s driven 90 dogs up north already, where she partners with another rescue. “I get them adopted first. Then I drive them to the other rescue, and the people that are adopting are there waiting for their pups,” she said.

The rescue also attends community events like Bark in the Park in Winter Haven and Touch a Truck in Auburndale to drum up support for the cause and hopefully find homes for their dogs. “Auburndale Parks and Recreation are very good to us. They always include us in whatever they do over at the park,” said Motola. Crossed Paws recently held their own event in Auburndale, where they did 14 adoptions in one day. According to Badillo, the rescue plans to hold monthly adoption events at the K-Ville Community Center. Interested in adopting a fourlegged friend through Crossed Paws? Folks are asked to fill out an application online. Once an application has been accepted, “We do meet and greet by appointment,” said Motola.


To support the dogs at Crossed Paws Pet Rescue, the community can make financial donations, donate cleaning supplies like garbage bags, paper towels, dog shampoo, and puppy pads, or shop at Goin’ to the Dogs Thrift Shoppe.

“We’re always looking for new volunteers who want to come in and work the store,” said Motola. Good items to donate to the store include lightly used clothing and home décor in good condition (clean, no tears, no missing zippers or buttons).

Anything they don’t plan to sell is donated to another thrift store or nonprofit. Motola looked around Goin’ to the Dogs Thrift Shoppe and said, “This is from all the people who support Crossed Paws. It’s just really cool.”

Keep up with Goin’ to the Dogs on social media to learn about sales and new inventory. They often bring dogs to the store so guests can shop and get a little pooch smooch from a sweet pup like five-year-old wired-haired terrier, Loki, and 6 to 7-yearold longhair dachshund, Willie, who at the time of print, are available for adoption!

Goin’ to the Dogs Thrift Shoppe

106B Main St, Auburndale

FB @gointothedogsthriftshoppe

(407) 414-5651

Crossed Paws Pet Rescue

FB @crossedpawspetrescue

Photography by Amy Sexson


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