For the love of petsBy COLIN CAMERON,
Panther Pet Hospital’s “star volunteer” is grabbing 2018 by the horns and stepping up to make a difference.
Danielle Walton of Petal has already raised upwards of $500 to help cover the veterinary expenses for stray animals so that they can find a loving home.
With no intention of slowing down soon, she is well on her way to reaching her $1,000 goal for this year.
Walton raises this money on her own accord by collecting scrap metal. She said that she has primarily collected aluminum cans, and frequently stops on the side of the road to pick up any cans she sees.
Walton was born with Autism, but she has never let that hold her back.
This Tuesday will mark her 11th year volunteering with Panther Pet Hospital, and throughout this time she has certainly become a valued member of the clinic’s team.
Dr. Christine Gibson said that for starters, Walton’s incredible dedication and commitment over the past 11 years is what makes her a ‘star volunteer’ – a title that she proudly embraces.
“She always comes in cheerful, with a ready smile and a good word for everybody,” Gibson said. “Sometimes this job can be really stressful and messy, but she really helps us appreciate it.”
Walton explained that it is her intense passion for animals that first led her to get involved with Panther Pet Hospital almost 11 years ago.
Since she began volunteering, she has had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of unique animals.
She said that a few of the most memorable ones include: a bearded dragon, an African serval cat and a capuchin monkey.
“Ever since I was a child, I’ve been around all types of animals,” Walton said. “I remember always wanting to go to the zoo and learn as much as a could about them.”
Walton added that she hopes to take a trip to the Amazon rainforest in Brazil to learn more about all of the different animals there some day, and that she’s already learning how to speak Portuguese in preparation for it.
Naturally, Walton said that this same passion is what inspired her to start raising money to help stray animals in the first place, and she wants to encourage anyone else with a passion for animals to make a difference as well.
“It’s not hard to make a difference,” she said. “You can start by simply volunteering your time somewhere like I do.”
If you would like to help Danielle reach her goal, donations of aluminum cans can be made to Panther Pet Hospital at 743 E Central Avenue in Petal.