Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

May 7, 2010

Animals provide life lesson

Disabled cats, dogs illustrate to students how to overcome adversity

Ken Hart
The Independent

Rush — Some students at Star Elementary School got a lesson in overcoming adversity on Thursday, courtesy of some canine and feline friends.

The Woodstock Animal Foundation, which will be providing veterinary services at a low-cost spay-neuter clinic today and Saturday in Grayson, brought some disabled animals to Star to visit with the fourth- and fifth-graders.

One of them was Copper, a redbone coonhound who came to the foundation from a shelter in Harlan County. The animal had chewed one of his hind legs off to escape a bear trap, said Denise Jones, the organization’s founder.

Another was Jenna, a small mixed-breed dog who lost one of her back legs and had the other one severely mangled when she was hit by a car.

And, finally, there was Thumper, a smallish white cat born with severely deformed hind legs.

The idea behind bringing in the animals was to teach children about diversity and about maintaining a positive outlook in the face of difficulties, said Allison Littleton, chairwoman of the Carter County Animal Control Advisory Board, which is sponsoring the spay-neuter clinic.

But the youngsters were mostly interested in making friends with the animals, especially the two dogs.

Copper, in particular, was a big hit with the students. They flocked around him to pet him as Tammy Edington of the Woodstock Foundation led him around the school gym.

Jones and Edington said Copper’s injuries are some of the most gruesome they’ve seen. A portion of his hindquarters was shaved for surgery and the fur had not yet grown back.

Edington said that when she went to pick up Copper, a shelter worker warned her he might bite, as animals that have been severely injured often do. But, much to her surprise, Copper licked her hand when she stuck him in his kennel, she said.

The Woodstock Foundation runs animal adoption programs in Simpsonville and Louisville. To date, it has adopted out nearly 9,000 pets and has performed roughly 80,000 spay-neuter surgeries, Jones said. The foundation also runs a low-cost sterilization clinic in Lexington.

Littleton said she became familiar with the foundation through adopting one of its cats and decided to try and bring it to Carter County for a clinic.

The location for the clinic has been changed, Littleton said. It was originally to have been in the Carter County maintenance building, but, no one was available to clean it because of severe flooding in Olive Hill, she said.

The clinic will now be at the Grayson Veterinary Clinic at 1929 Ky. 7, just north of Grayson, near Kees Farm Supply.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.