4 Year Old Girl Norah Wants To Save Dogs So They Have Homes And Families
FRESNO, Calif. — Four-year-old Norah Kerr and her black Lab, Sadie, are a super dog-saving duo.
The teamwork was obvious at Fresno Humane Animal Services recently, as Norah made sure Sadie was interviewed for this story, too. With an arm wrapped affectionately around Sadie’s neck, the little girl whispered a number of questions into her beloved dog’s ear.
The black Lab said — via Norah, the dog interpreter — she enjoys playing catch, Norah’s birthday is coming up soon (in April) and she loves dogs.
Their shared love of dogs is powering a new project: Norah and Sadie’s Cans for Canines. Aided considerably by Norah’s mother, Amanda Kerr, Norah and Sadie are collecting recyclables to exchange for money that’s donated to Fresno Humane Animal Services to transport dogs in that shelter to no-kill shelters in areas where adoption rates are high.
“I rescue all dogs,” Norah said, “so they have homes and families.”
Sadie also is rescuing Norah. She’s a service-dog-in-training. Norah has spina bifida, a neural tube defect; Dandy-Walker syndrome, a brain malformation; and 3C syndrome, which affects the brain and heart and causes subtle facial abnormalities.
“She’s actually missing part of her brain,” her mother said, “but you would never even know because she’s just amazing.”
At Fresno Humane Animal Services, Norah was talkative and active, bouncing happily around Sadie and dogs at the shelter.
“She’s kind of like a puppy — she’s so cute,” Brenda Mitchell, board president of Fresno Humane Animal Services, said with a giggle. “That’s a big compliment coming from me.”
This was a good day for Norah, her mother explained. About a month ago, her little girl woke up paralyzed from the neck down. Norah spent four days in the hospital before her mobility returned. Her legs also sometimes abruptly give out while she’s walking, an occurrence that’s fortunately lessened since a recent back surgery. Norah is typically hospitalized at least twice a year and has doctor’s appointments and therapy at least three or four times a month.
Scary as all this can be, her family remembers that Norah’s symptoms are small compared with what they could be. Most children with Norah’s diagnosis are born in a vegetative state, with little mobility, her mother said.
Norah said her dog helps her feel more “brave.”
After adopting Sadie in August, the first question Norah had for her mom was, “Why are there still dogs at the shelter?” With the goal of finding happy homes for more of them, Norah and Sadie’s Cans for Canines was born to raise money for the shelter, which housed about 5,600 dogs during the past year. The Kerr family holds monthly drop-off events for recyclables, and they pick up recyclables from homes.
Through these efforts, Norah has donated $400 to the shelter since starting her campaign. The money enabled two large-breed dogs to be transported to a no-kill shelter in Oregon.
Norah’s goals: “No. 1, I really want to save 100 dogs. No. 2, I want to be a dog saver. No. 3, I want to feed dogs.”
“She’s the perfect antidepressant,” Mitchell said of Norah. “She gives you hope, and hope is hard to find nowadays.”
Norah is a major inspiration for staff at Fresno Humane Animal Services.
“The hard work can really wear you down, and sometimes you can really feel like, ‘Why? We’re never going to get anywhere,’ ” Mitchell said, “and then we look at the animals and then we look at Norah, and we say, ‘Yeah, we can do this. We have to! How can we fail because of them and her.’
“She’s darling. It’s impossible not to get inspired when you meet her. It’s just so sweet, her heart, and Mom is doing such a great job raising her. We need more kids like this.”
Amanda Kerr said she hopes Norah and Sadie’s Cans for Canines inspires many others.
“I encourage anybody to find something you are passionate about and express that to your children,” Kerr said. “Teach them compassion, teach them forgiveness and teach them how to give to others. That’s what it’s all about. We’re lacking a lot of that these days, and it’s never too young.”