Lucky Dog shop helps animals, people

Melanie O’Brien’s 10-year-old pitbull, Bacardi, had stopped acting like herself. She seemed like she was suffering, but O’Brien couldn’t figure out what was wrong.

First, O’Brien tried calling her veterinarian to get her four-legged friend examined. The situation was worse than expected. She couldn’t afford the $58 vet fee to bring Bacardi in for an emergency check-up before she received her paycheck at the end of the week.

“We didn’t have the $58,” O’Brien said. “They’ve always taken care of Bacardi, but this time, we didn’t have the money. She was so sick and I called everywhere. … Everybody said, ‘Try there, maybe they’ll give you the loan until Friday.’ I just needed the help until the end of the week, until pay day. I didn’t even know what was wrong with her.”

O’Brien kept hitting deadends, and her dog wasn’t getting any better.

That’s when her landlady told her to try Lucky Dog Thrift Shop for financial aid, O’Brien said.

“I’d been in there, but I didn’t really know what it was all about,” O’Brien said. “I called, and they didn’t even hesitate to help.”

The bill ended up being $210 for Bacardi’s vet visit; while O’Brien’s mother-in-law covered the initial $58, Lucky Dog Thrift Shop paid the difference, she said.

Lucky Dog Thrift Shop, at 23 Elm St. in Nashua – across the street from the Elm Street parking garage – has been helping pets like Bacardi for almost two years now.

The nonprofit shop benefits animals and the environment by reselling gently used, secondhand items and donating one hundred percent of the proceeds toward humane education and animal care, including spaying, neutering and hardship pet bill fees.

Pet owners who can’t afford treatments for their cat, dog, rabbit, rat – or any other animal – can find solace in Lucky Dog Thrift Shop’s reasonable financial aid.

While the shop tries to fund financial aid under $200 for each pet care need, the store over the years has financed the treatment of issues including animal fight wounds, infections, lameness, Lyme disease, sprains, eye injuries, lacerations and digestive problems. “Just about everything,” shop owner Katherine Ranalleti said.

In Bacardi’s case, Lucky Dog’s financial aid allowed the O’Briens to discover their dog’s kidney failure problems. They put Bacardi to sleep two days later.

“It wasn’t the outcome we wanted,” O’Brien said. “But just knowing what was wrong with her, at least we know she didn’t die because of something we didn’t do.”

The experience changed O’Brien’s outlook on the way people – even veterinarians – care about animals, she said.

“Time does heal – but if it wasn’t for (Lucky Dog), we wouldn’t have known what was wrong with Bacardi,” O’Brien said. “Even if she had died, she would have had to suffer until the end.”

Since Lucky Dog Thrift Shop opened its doors two years ago, it has funded the care of approximately 70 animals, Ranalleti said.

The shop is just one component of Ranalleti’s nonprofit, Tails to Freedom, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization where all donations are “tax-deductible, recyclable and helpful.”

The idea for the nonprofit and the shop originally sprang from Ranalleti’s own love for her 11-year-old border collie mix, Racey, she said.

“People need more help with their animals,” Ranalleti said. “It’s such a gift to have an animal, and it does really improve your life. Sometimes it’s the only companion people have … and everybody goes through hard times.”

Ranalleti, who earned a bachelor’s degree in animal advocacy, ultimately hopes to open up a 10,000-square-foot humane education center, complete with a sanctuary, a vegan cafe, an animal specialty shop, a thrift shop and a pet day care center.

But Lucky Dog Thrift Shop is a good start. The 3,400-square-foot, three-floor store is open for all secondhand shoppers looking for vintage, fashionable or antique items ranging from clothes and furniture to electronics and jewelry. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays except Thursday, when it is open until 8 p.m. On Saturdays, the store is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Prices range as low as 20 cents for gently used products ,while most clothes are $5, Ranalleti said. The store also offers animal lovers an ongoing lending library with resources about veganism, vegetarianism, animal atrocities and pamphlets from humane societies.

“Helping people to make more conscious choices about where they’ll buy their stuff, and being more compassionate towards animals, that’s probably my biggest reward,” Ranalleti said. “And of course, helping (owners) out when they can’t afford to help their pets.”

There is some paperwork to complete before Lucky Dog can help, but the process is simple enough.

“If they’ve tried to go through all the resources, if they really don’t have the finances right now to help their pet, they can call us,” Ranalleti said. “We have a form they fill out, and we try to see if we can be paid back, or do a payment plan. That’s been working out pretty good.”

Since O’Brien got the help she needed for Bacardi, she said she’s already planning on paying Lucky Dog back for their help – and then some.

“Everybody that needs help that can’t get help, go see them,” O’Brien said. “Whatever you can do to help animals out there, if you love animals, the more donations they get, the more people that go in and buy things, helps those animals. I’m thinking of volunteering myself.

“I just want to say thank you to them.”

For more information on Lucky Dog Thrift Store or Tails to Freedom, visit or call 882-DOGS (3647).

Maryalice Gill can be reached at 594-6490 or