Floyd, a male Beagle/ Shar Pei mix cancer survivor, has become somewhat of a local celebrity since his and owner Mike Wilson's story of cancer survival ran in The Brazil Times on Jan. 27.
"People have come into Lynn's Pharmacy looking for Mike that he hasn't seen in years," said Jodie Wilson about the community's response to the story. But Floyd has definitely taken to stardom. "Floyd's a people lover and a camera hog. People stop us all the time to visit with Floyd."
Floyd, his family and friends are using his new celebrity to benefit others through the creation of Floyd's Fund.
The idea for Floyd's Fund was presented to the Clay County Humane Society by Wilson. It is loosely based on the program Stray Rescue of St. Louis that helped save Floyd's life.
The fund will raise money for medical expenses so that all animals at the shelter can receive the treatments they need for survival. The hope is that it will generate enough funding to help support other areas of need as well.
"Many animals arrive needing medical attention right away," said Bill Bell, President of the Board of Directors for the Clay County Humane Society. "It is a huge expense for a program with a limited budget."
The shelter is overflowing with animals most of the time.
"People clean out their animals like they clean out their garage," Shelter Director Rick Moore said of the animal population they handle in a month. The shelter will travel as far away as Chicago in an effort to place pets in good homes. "We find homes for animals, but let a Saturday come, and we're filled back up again."
"Animals are so loving, kind and gentle, and so much a part of our lives, that they deserve a second chance," said Wilson, explaining the reason for Floyd's Fund.
Two abandoned dogs badly in need of medical attention, a female lab and a male German shepherd mix, recently were saved because of the new program.
The female has been treated and already adopted.
The male, successfully treated for Parvo, is awaiting adoption.
"Benji is just a sweetie," said Wilson, who took the good-natured dog home with her to care for him during some of his treatment. "Floyd made such a difference in our lives that I know a dog like Benji can do the same for someone else."
A major way to impact upon the need to care for animals is with children. That is why Floyd's Fund is sponsoring several programs that children and adults can participate in together.
Meridian Elementary is in the process of helping to launch Paws for Reading. The reading/writing interactive program for children will allow them to be educated about the health of animals while enjoying activities with visiting animals from the shelter.
"Kids will have a chance to learn about and have a fun experience with animals," Wilson said.
Floyd's Pen Pals is a confidence-building program that will allow a child to be honored by Floyd for their achievements in working with animals. Certificates, along with a note from the local celebrity himself, will be presented to children nominated by adults.
"It is a fun way for adults to recognize a child that loves animals," Jodie said of the project. She doesn't mind being Floyd's secretary at all when it comes to getting children involved with animals. "We want to recognize a child's love of animals while encouraging literacy and writing at the same time."