Unsung Hero: Ashlynn Walters

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By Ashley Smith
By Josue

MARION -- A young girl is spending her summer at Marion Animal Control rather than the swimming pool. She's helping homeless pets who just want a friend.

11-year-old Ashlynn Walters says she's always loved animals - even snakes!

Part of her family includes a hamster, five dogs, and plenty of fish living at her home in Carterville.

You can find Ashlynn at Marion Animal Control most days this summer helping the dogs get exercise, love, and treats!

"I try to rehabilitate the dogs," explains Ashlynn Walters, "See that little dog over there, we call him Shiloh because he's shy  and we believe he's been abused maybe because he's afraid of people."

Ashlynn says she sometimes becomes attached to the dogs but knows when they leave here they are going to a forever home.

"I make friends with a lot, but when they're gone usually they find homes," said Ashlynn, "So that's good and it makes me happy."

Animal Control Officers Kevin and Shanna Askew say Ashlynn is a huge help to them but more importantly she helps the dogs.

"It's mainly for these animals because when they're here it's hard to get any interaction when they're in a kennel situation," said Kevin Askew, "And she comes out she walks the dogs, she feeds them, interact with them and that's what's important in getting these guys new homes."

Not only does Ashlynn help but her mom and two brothers also lend a hand.

"I just see the same love in her heart to animals that I had as a child and it's very encouraging," said Ashlynn's mom Kim Walters.
 
For now, Ashlynn is enjoying the time she spends with the canines.  But the experts say she definitely has a future with these furry friends.
 
"She's 11 years old and she comes all the way from carterville and get her mother to bring her, I'd say she's got a real good future with either veterinary or animal control, something related to animals," said Kevin.
 
"Animals are like people too and they're like part of our family they're not just like a regular animal," urges Ashlynn, "If you see a dog beat up on the street you should probably try to help it because it's probably sick or something."
 
Through the tail wags and hanging tongues, it's easy to see these dogs enjoy their time with Ashlynn just as much as she does!
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