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Fourth-graders help disabled pets

Ms. Barton's class Ms. Barton's class

Duncan_Many pets become handicapped due to accidents, and some are born with defects, even without sight or hearing.  7News tracked down a local teacher and her students to ask them about what they have done to help disabled pets.  Some of the pets live thousands of miles from Texoma.

Comet is an average Golden Retriever, but his hind legs were paralyzed after a spinal cord injury months ago.  Hope is a four-year-old Lethal White Aussie, a specially bred breed that may have a tendency toward genetic problems.  "She can't see because of the way she was bred," said Velma-Alma elementary student Emily Combest.  "Two out of the whole litter would have problems, so she can't see and she's deaf."

Hope's breeder had planned to put she and her sister down because they are blind, but when fourth grade teacher Kathy Barton found out, she rescued them and took them to her home in Duncan.  Ms. Barton also helped save Comet - despite the fact that he is nearly 2,000 miles away in Rhode Island.

Ms. Barton's students helped to raise money to provide Comet with a doggy wheelchair.  "It was really fun," said student Cailin Wright.  "We had a bake sale, we had a show, we had all sorts of stuff."  "Like a fashion show kind of thing, a handicapped fashion show, and so we just dressed them up," piped in student Jasmine Muchow.  The kids dressed up handicapped pets, including Hope, and Ms. Barton's other dog (who has three legs), and her blind cat.  "We had them walk out onto the stage and then we played this video and stuff and it was really fun," said student Rylee Pierce.

The video told the stories of Hope and other disabled pets, and about how Ms. Barton's classes have helped in years past.  The kids also made a quilt and wrote letters to send to Comet along with his new cart.  "[To] cheer him up," said young Colby Martin.  Comet first tried using the cart on Wednesday.  His doctor says that without the cart, Comet's quality of life wouldn't be very good.  "It's a win, win for everyone especially Comet," said Rhode Island SPCA Director Dr. EJ Finnochio.  "That he is able to be mobile and go about and do some of the things he would naturally do with the aid of the cart."

Ms. Barton uses the experience to teach kids values about making quick judgments.  "It's not what's on the outside that counts, it's what's on the inside," she said.  "It's not only pets, it also relates to people."  Ms. Barton says they provided four carts for pets across the country this year, and students she will have in her class in the fall already have been asking her when they'll get to start.

To learn more about disabled animals and how you can help - perhaps even provide a cart for a pet like Comet - visit www.handicappedpets.com.

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