Start ‘Em Young: Meet a 9-Year-Old Animal Rescuer

Michael Parker found his calling when he was just 7 years old.

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Help comes in all shapes and sizes, and, it turns out, all ages.

When Michael Parker was 7 years old, a Sharpei mix arrived at his front door in Bixby, Okla. While his mother, Amanda Newman, searched for the dog’s rightful owners online, Michael stayed outside and played with the dog in an effort to keep her calm.

It turned out Amber was a service dog who’d gone missing from Horizon Animal Heroes, a rescue organization that handles “animals who are sick, injured, handicapped, or those otherwise considered ‘unadoptable,’ and give them the medical and emotional care needed to give them a chance at a new beginning, and place them in loving homes best suited to their special needs,” their website states.

It was there that Michael met Cari McDonald, veterinarian and owner of Bixby’s Horizon Animal Hospital and founder of Horizon Animal Heroes. This chance encounter helped Michael find his purpose in life: helping animals. His role at the rescue is a large one, and one that benefits the animals greatly. He socializes the dogs and cats, plays with them, feeds them, gives them water and even walks them.

McDonald calls Michael an inspiration. “His family can’t get him out of the clinic. When he comes, they are stuck waiting for him because he is playing with all the animals and enjoying being with them. It’s good to see someone who is here for the animals,” she told Muskogee Phoenix. “You talk about the animals and he just lights up.”

The now 9-year-old said, “I play with the dogs because they don’t have anyone else to play with. I’m allergic to cats, so I can’t touch one without sneezing. But I do that anyway ‘cause I like cats and dogs.”

While Michael enjoys his calling and is happy when the dogs and cats find forever homes, his role is not without its difficulties. He can’t help getting upset when an animal he’s grown close to is adopted out or when the animal brought to the rescue has suffered cruelty of any kind or when there’s just nothing else the veterinary team can do.

But he prevails with a single goal:  to find every rescued animal a forever home. What a great goal to have.

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Cari Jorgensen

Cari is a former dancer and current dance enthusiast who incorporates all forms of art into her daily life, which includes writing about dogs, cats, and other animals for I-5 Publishing as an assistant web editor. She has an MFA degree in creative writing and has written short stories, poetry, and two novels, which are patiently awaiting revision. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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