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Passion for animals central to Mt. Eden woman's book

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By The Staff

Sure, the Mount Eden woman’s book is filled with fascinating facts about chimpanzees, surprising specifics about kangaroos and pleasant pictures of pooches -- and even portraits of pigs. But Paula Sparrow’s Kentucky Living’s Creature Comforts is more than 147 pages highlighting the state’s animal sanctuaries.

Just ask Teresa Bottom, founder of Lifebridge for Animals, an organization in Shelbyville dedicated to cutting down on pet overpopulation.

“Paula recognized Lifebridge as a unique organization from the beginning, through classroom visits and observing humane-education presentations,” Bottom said. “Sparrow concluded in her book that working to provide a solution to the problem of pet overpopulation has to begin with reaching children through a specific message of compassion, respect for animals, and responsible pet ownership. We thank her for raising awareness as to the problems facing domestic animals.”

Raising awareness is exactly what Sparrow hopes to do with Creature Comforts, which was released to the public this month.

“I have an absolute passion for animals,” she said. “And I finally got to the stage where in return for the good life I have had, I wanted to give something back.”

Sparrow, who lives on her father’s farm in Mount Eden with “11 hairy animals -- something of a zoo” -- said she doesn’t have the resources for additional animal adoptions, or the time to volunteer. “I thought my words could be a gift to the animals,” she said. “I could help the animals by making the public aware of all of these places trying to take care of animals  places they could donate, volunteer, or adopt from.”  But it didn’t start that way. Initially, Sparrow simply wanted to write a few “warm and fuzzy” stories about animals that had been rescued and the people involved in their rescue. Thus began Creature Comforts, a column for the Kentucky Living magazine’s Web site.

“The more I looked, the more sanctuaries and people I found,” Sparrow said. “I was dumfounded when I discovered how many rescue groups and animal sanctuaries there are in Kentucky, and how many people in this state have given over their lives to caring for these animals.” Some of those people work at Lifebridge, and the Shelby County Animal Shelter in Shelbyville, which Sparrow devoted a chapter to each in her book.

There are no Spencer County groups included in Sparrow’s book and that’s because, so far, “she can’t find a story there.”

“There’s not even an animal shelter,” she said, “and the humane society contracts with the Kentucky Humane Society in Louisville.” But for an upcoming column, she said, she could like to find an individual in Spencer County “doing something special” for animals.

Sparrow’s columns, which she began writing in 2003 and still writes today, resulted in animal adoptions and donations, as well as public education about the sanctuaries and the needs of the animals.

“I hope this book will do the same,” Sparrow said.

Sparrow said Creature Comforts is the first book she knows of that highlights Kentucky’s animal rescue groups.

Bottom agreed. “I know of no other publication of its kind,” she said.

Creature Comforts covers many parts of the state and includes dogs, cats, horses, mountain lions, primates, pigs, raccoons, deer, and even elephants.

“Dogs and cats are the public’s main priority but I don’t want the public to forget we have wildlife and exotic animals,” Sparrow said. “And they need help, too.”

While researching the book, Sparrow learned just how much of a connection she could have with potbelly pigs, such as those at Safe Harboar Farm in Knob Lick. “They have such souls,” she said, “I can’t quite put my finger on it.”

“It was indeed a joy to write,” she said of the book. “I’ve met amazing people and had some fabulous animal encounters. I like to tell people, ‘Can you believe I get paid to do this?’ ”

To order Kentucky Living¹s Creature Comforts call 1-800-357-5232 or visit  http://www.Kentuckyliving.com and go to Kentucky Showcase. The cost of the book is $15.