CLINTON, Okla. – Heather Estrada doesn`t need a thank you. She does what she does because her heart’s big enough to care for stray cats and dogs when other people won`t.
“This woman takes care of all our unwanted animals in Western Oklahoma. She does it on her own,” Martha Barber told News 4.
That`s why Martha Barber out in Clinton nominated Estrada in the first place.
The day before our big surprise, News 4 filled our friends at First Fidelity Bank in on the plan.
The next day, a News 4 crew headed due west on I-40.
We met Martha at her home, where Heather thought the two would have lunch.
When News 4 handed off the $400 to Martha so she could give it to Heather, Martha said, “Awesome! I can`t wait! She can really use this money.”
Just moments later Heather arrives and we told her about Martha’s nomination.
“I can`t believe you did that!” exclaimed Heather.
“Oh, you deserve it, honey! I love you so much! I`m telling you, if it wasn`t for you, I don`t know what we`d do! Oh, you`re gonna make me cry,” replied Martha. “Well, here you go. You get four hundred dollars, one, don`t let the wind blow it! Two, three, four! Now that it`ll help with all kinds of things.”
Heather`s been taking care of strays for years, and it`s an expensive job- that food doesn`t buy itself.
She agrees to take us out to see the kennels she`s built to care for them.
Heather has more than 40 right now, puppies not included.
Along the way, she shares some shocking statistics. Before Heather started doing her work, saving these dogs, the pound in Clinton was up to its neck in strays.
“They had like a 98% euthanasia rate here before I walked in,” Heather told us.
Now it`s zero! And it`s been that way since November 2015 when Heather started taking in animals with nowhere to go.
But keeping that zero euthanasia number isn`t easy.
“Last week we almost lost that. We had 12 dogs in our 7 rungs. We`ve had dogs doubled up that they just didn`t have anywhere to go,” Heather recalled.
That`s one reason Heather`s expanding. She`s building more kennels and covering the ones she has to protect from the sun.
She also works with Humane Societies all over the country- she gets animals abandoned here in Oklahoma to other parts of the country where they`ll be adopted.
“Last year we were able to save over a thousand animals by transporting them out of state,” said Heather.
That money today from First Fidelity Bank will help transport those animals where they can find homes, as well as pay for kennels, dog food- the expenses never end.
‘Pay it 4Ward’ is sponsored by First Fidelity Bank.