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Inside the Monroe County Humane Association’s clinic for stuffed animals

Child holds stuffed animals

Ellie Buchanan, 6, holds her two stuffed animals as they are discharged from the Stuffy Repair Clinic. (Devan Ridgway, WFIU/WTIU)

For children whose stuffed animals have been injured, the Monroe County Humane Association can patch them up.

Veterinary technician Colleen Seal said the Stuffy Repair Clinic aims to teach children to maintain a love of animals.

“Really, we want to foster love and empathy for animals from a young age,” Seal said.

And the children she’s seen since the clinic opened in December care just as much about their stuffed animals as they do about their living pets.

“They’re well-loved for a long time, but I like that they’re not just throwing them away. You know, that they’re fixing them,” she said.

Some patients just need to be restuffed and stitched, while others need an eye replaced or more extensive treatment. Seal says most of the damage comes from family pets.

Six-year-old Ellie Buchanan was at the clinic Tuesday with her mother to pick up two discharged patients – Ballerina Bunny and a cheetah named Spot.

Melissa Buchanan says they’ve had Ballerina Bunny since Ellie was a baby.

“It's been kind of her first stuffy that she really hung on to and slept with and was connected to and so we were pretty sad when Ballerina Bunny was injured,” Buchanan said.

Seal, the vet tech, says the most rewarding part of the process is the joy she sees in children who are reunited with their stuffed animals.

“They just spring to life,” Seal said. “When they come in, and they get their animal back, I realized they're just apprehensive. It's just like if we are dropping off a pet for surgery.”

It’s mostly children bringing patients to the clinic. But Seal says she has an appointment in a few weeks with an 83-year-old woman whose stuffed lion is missing an eye. The stuffed animal was a gift from her late husband.

The Stuffy Repair Clinic offers appointments on Tuesday afternoons. There’s a $20 fee.

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