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Monday, January 23, 2006

8-year-old talks to the animals

They thrive under his care; he wishes others would be kind
By Lou Grieco
Dayton Daily News

GERMAN TWP, OHIO-When Garrett Recker set his pet toad free, the toad returned, again and again.

When he brings turkey cold cuts from his refrigerator, the wild cats come eat from his hand and let him pet them — although they won't let anyone else touch them.

"It's his goal in life to make them all tame," joked his mother, Mary Jo Recker. "He's very empathetic. He cares about everything, people and animals."

An 8-year-old second-grader at Germantown Elementary, Garrett is the township's answer to Dr. Dolittle.

He has a natural ease with animals, whether it is his pet snake, Zippo, his pet toad, Gherkin, or the wild cats in the barn by his house.

Garrett also has a message for humans: Littering can hurt animals.

Last summer, Garrett and his mother were walking when Garrett spotted a duck in a residential cul-de-sac. After he coaxed the duck from under a parked car, they found the duck had a plastic ring, presumably from a drink bottle, caught around its head, impairing its ability to eat.

Mary Jo got the ring off the duck's head, and they carried the duck to a neighborhood pond. The duck died in her arms.

Garrett had wanted to save the duck and was upset, his mother said. Now, he wants to get the message out about litter and wildlife.

"I really kind of felt bad that people littered," Garrett said. "I was hoping it wouldn't happen to other animals if people knew."


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