Love of animals leads to mitzvah project


Justin loves animals and the Open Door Animal Sanctuary (ODAS) was the organization he chose for his mitzvah project. He specifically chose this animal sanctuary because it is a no-kill shelter. ODAS is dedicated to preserving animals’ life and health by providing shelter, food and veterinary care, while fostering their social skills and encouraging their adoption into loving homes.


Son of Sue and Robert Bohm, Justin volunteered at Open Door several times during the past school year and summer. Being able to work directly with the cats and dogs was important to him. “Socializing” or getting the animals used to people was one of his responsibilities. He loved the human touch and involvement aspect. For example, Justin would walk the dogs to get them used to being on a leash to prepare them for adoption.

One of the cats Justin worked with was so cute and lovable that he ended up adopting it, brought her home and named her Dori. Justin said that he had mixed emotions about the adoption as he wanted to take the other animals home too. However, he knew couldn’t and that his volunteer work was helping them get into a good home.

In addition to volunteering at ODAS, Justin collected pet supplies for them. He included a note in his bar mitzvah invitations requesting his guests to bring a needed item to the service. He also decorated a bulletin at Shaare Emeth requesting donations from the congregants and campers.

A student at Crestview Middle School, Justin was overwhelmed with the support he received. When he and his mother delivered a full mini-van of pet supplies to ODAS, he also gave them a cash donation from his bar mitzvah money.

Open Door Animal Shelter officially started in 1975 when Joan Costello and Carol Perkins, wife of the late Marlin Perkins, former host of Wild Kingdom and director of the St. Louis Zoo, teamed up. Together they built a support system for the animals including dedicated veterinarians and volunteers.

You can support Justin’s mitzvah project by donating needed supplies to ODAS. “What they really need,” Justin said, “is to adopt a pet and give it love and care.” Please visit their Web site at