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Young Bend Girl Is Patriot’s New Hero


She may be small, but she wants to help in a very big way.

After following Patriot’s recovery, 9-year-old Kira Neilsen of Bend grabbed her piggy bank and got to work.

“We got the idea of getting cans, bottles and change from neighbors and family in the neighborhood, and we went and gathered them to collect money for Patriot,” Kira said Wednesday.

It started with $5 of her own money — and after just two days, Kira’s “Help Patriot Fund” has collected $36 to help pay for the raptor’s medical bills.

On Wednesday, Kira — who hopes to be a veterinarian one day — got to meet Patriot as he underwent more exams, blood work and physical therapy at the Bend Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Jeff Conney and Jeannette Bonomo even surprised her and let Kira sign Patriot’s new wing bandage.

But Kira’s not the only one wanting to lend a hand in Patriot’s recovery.

“We just opened an account for him yesterday, and we deposited $890, so it’s been overwhelming,” Bonomo said.

Found, bruised and battered more than a month ago near La Pine, Patriot was weak and thin. Thanks to hundreds of donations — some even in the form of his favorite snack, fish — he’s gained a healthy 600 grams, weighing almost 8 pounds.

And things continue to look up for Patriot, thanks to the support from people like Kira.

“It brings tears to our eyes, to receive emails and to see Kira’s poster,” Bonomo said.

The young aspiring veterinarian is proving a little can go a long way in Patriot’s battle.

“If you want to be a vet, just follow your heart and do what you want to do,” Kira said.

Donations are still being accepted for Patriot at the Bend Veterinary Clinic and Sunriver Nature Center.

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