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Small Hands—Big Heart: Casey's Story

A few months ago on one of those cold winter mornings, I received an e-mail that instantly warmed my heart and has quickly become one of my all-time favorites! The message was from, I soon learned, an extraordinary little girl with a true passion for animals. Her name was Casey Chandler, and she informed me that she was seven years old, had adopted two cats from the Little Rock Animal Village—Copper and Heart—and that she absolutely loves animals.

Casey went on to tell me that she had already donated $100 of her own money to the Village to help the animals there, and that she not only had plans to raise additional funds by hosting a Hot Cocoa Stand, but that she was also going to design and sell a t-shirt for Valentine’s Day with the assistance of her Aunt Julie who owns a t-shirt shop. The shirt, she said, would have a big heart with paw prints going across the front, and it would say, “pets make paw prints on your heart” written out by Casey herself. Needless to say, I immediately put in an order for two based on cuteness alone.

Throughout the course of the next few weeks, I continued to receive e-mails from Casey and her mom with updates on her progress, along with stories and photos reflecting her enthusiasm and dedication to animals. Despite being such a young age, I found Casey to be quite an ambassador for the animal population. It seems it all started about four years ago; at the tender age of three Casey rescued a stray kitten that was sick and dying. Since that first experience, she has rescued quite a few dogs and cats and even bugs! She is always on the lookout for stray animals and, when she finds one, helps place them in good homes—especially her grandparent’s home since they live out in the country with plenty of room to run and grow. She has adopted a few cats from the Hot Springs animal shelter, a few dogs from places like Pet-finder, and most recently kept a puppy that someone dumped out on the road in front of her own country home like trash. However, in Casey’s eyes no puppy is ever looked upon as trash, just another lovable animal that needs a big hug, a good meal, and a warm place to call home.

Casey's Lemonade Stand Sign_Friends of the Animal Village

When I finally had the opportunity to meet Casey in person, she told me all about her favorite cat, Pepperoni. Named as such because she likes pizza! That evening, stories were shared about how Casey loves to watch You-Tube videos of animal rescues and, much to the delight and amusement of family and friends, often gives cat care presentations, including a quiz at the end, to anyone and everyone present at family events. Casey has hopes of being president one day so she can, as she puts it, “Pay $200 to everyone who is good to animals!”

Casey with Cat_Friends of the Animal Village

I am proud to say that Casey’s efforts were fruitful—she made $400 selling t-shirts, even managing to sell three of them to a lady veterinarian in a Wal-Mart restroom. Casey also raised an additional $200 at her lemonade stand, converted over from hot cocoa due to weather, with the assistance of her grandparents’ dog Spot, who did an outstanding job serving as her mascot and customer greeter. As was the case of my childhood lemonade stands, Casey’s mom, Amanda, reported that judging by the number of cups of lemonade drank that day; Casey was her own biggest customer.

Casey is certainly an inspiration to many and, without a doubt, the best friend any animal could find.

Therefore, on behalf of the Friends of the Animal Village, allow me to say, “Thank you so much for your donation. You are a world-class champion and HERO in our eyes.”

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