Kathy Barton is a true hero for disabled animals. As a 4th grade teacher in Velma, Oklahoma (a tiny town with fewer than 700 residents), she educates her students about special needs pets.
Kathy's passion for animal advocacy began several years ago when she learned about two deaf and blind Australian Shepherd puppies who were facing euthanasia. Knowing they deserved a chance, Kathy bravely stepped in to rescue the pups and ended up keeping one as her own. She christened the affectionate white dog Hope and began to bring her into the classroom.
Hope had a big impact on the 4th grade students, and they were eager to help other dogs with similar plights. Under the guidance of Kathy's guidance, they sold cookies and coke floats to raise funds for disabled pets. Through their collective efforts, they gathered $423. The money was used to help rehome a paralyzed Dachshund named Johanna. She had been rescued from an abusive situation in Tennessee and needed a way to reach her new home in Maine. Kathy's class gladly paid for Johanna's place ticket and learned a valuable lesson in the process: an earnest group of caring people has the ability to change lives.
Since 2005, Kathy's classes have conducted fundraisers for disabled pets each year. In 2007 the students were able to help three animals including Zack, a 13 year old Beagle (pictured above). Arthritis had reduced Zack's mobility, but he still longed to run and play with the three children in his family. Kathy's students chose to underwrite the cost of Zack's wheelchair because they understood his desire to keep up with his human playmates. With his new wheels, Zack is able to do just that. Here is an excerpt from Zack's thank you letter to Kathy's class:
"Some people think that because a pet can not walk that they are not worth having, they tried to tell my mom and dad that because I could not walk that they should not keep me anymore, boy am I glad that they did not listen!"
Recently Kathy developed a teaching manual in conjunction with www.handicappedpets.com - a website that offers support, services, and products for elderly, injured, and disabled pets and their caretakers. Let's put our hands and paws together to give Kathy Barton and her caring students a round of applause for their great work!!!