Kind-hearted high school student creates wheelchairs for pets
[Oct 14, 2021: Delane Cleveland]
A 14-year-old Champlin, Minnesota girl manufactures dog wheelchairs in her free time. Normally costing families around $1,000, this girl's efforts only cost dog owners the price of the parts. (Credit: Shaine Kilyun)
At Champlin Park High School, students interested in animals can take a pre-vet, animal science class.
On a recent Monday, the class discussion focused on career exploration in the field.
“I’m looking for things, traits that you have, that you think would be good for the career area that you’ve picked,” teacher Dan Foss said to the class.
You can count sophomore Shaine Kilyun as one of the animal-loving students in the class who’s in need of some direction.
“Yeah I definitely always wanted to work with animals,” Kilyun said. “I’m not really sure what exactly I want to do, but I know that I want to do something with them.”
Yet she didn’t let that uncertainty get in the way of putting an idea into action at the young age of 15.
“Originally I wanted to start some kind of rescue, but I knew that wasn’t really possible,” Kilyun said. “And then I kind of came across the wheelchair idea and I thought it was just different.”
This past winter, Kilyun started a nonprofit called “Wheelies Dog and Cat Wheelchairs,” where she makes custom wheelchairs for disabled pets and sells them for a fraction of what they would normally cost.
“I know a lot of people, they put their pets down even though they don’t want to, just because they can’t afford things for mobility,” Kilyun said.
After doing some research, she figured out how to make the wheelchairs out of PVC plastic. And thanks to Instagram and word of mouth, she’s been able to make the wheelchairs for dogs, cats, and in one case, a hedgehog.
“She had wobbly hedgehog syndrome,” Kilyun said. “Her back legs were paralyzed and so I made her one and she was able to get her mobility back.”
After doing some research, she figured out how to make the wheelchairs out of PVC plastic. (CREDIT: Instagram/@wheelies_dogandcat_wheelchairs)
IMPRESSING SCHOOL STAFF
Meanwhile, Champlin Park’s youth service coordinator was certainly impressed with Kilyun’s initiative.
“Shaine’s a volunteer true to heart,” said Jane Hansen. “This definitely will stand out for Shaine, that she took an idea, she saw a need, she took an idea and she ran with it and she made it happen, and she addressed that need.”
It’s a need that Kilyun will continue to address as her experience, and client base, grows.
“It’s very rewarding, knowing that I guess I’m making a difference for pets,” Kilyun said. “And I hope to save more pets in the future.”
But first, she still has to get through two more years of high school.
In the meantime, of Kilyun‘s goals is to donate wheelchairs to animal shelters to help pets who are in danger of being euthanized.
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