When Kayla Moore, who will be 15 tomorrow, realized her pet bearded dragon Lucky needed medical attention she was more than ready to take action. In order to finance the lizard’s care, she offered her parents $200, half of which she earned walking a neighbor’s dog for $5 per half hour.
“I figured I’d save money for the surgery,” said Kayla, a ninth-grader at Pilgrim High School. “I also had an emergency $100 bill and I thought I’d use that, too.”
Kayla’s mother Jodi said while she is thrilled her daughter is thoughtful and responsible, she and her husband Wayne were more than happy to pay the bill.
“We didn’t have the heart to take her money,” said Jodi.
The surgery for Lucky, who weighs about a pound and is nearly a foot in length, cost the Moore family nearly $300. The lizard’s tail became infected and it was necessary to amputate half of it.
“I didn’t know what it was at first,” said Kayla. “The end of his tail looked dried up but it fell off and I thought it was fine. Then, it got worse.”
From there, Kayla told Jodi Lucky’s tail appeared abnormal. At that point, Jodi contacted veterinarian Dr. Patricia Ader.
“She gave him medicine hoping the infection would go away but it didn’t work,” Jodi said. “We thought he was going to lose three-quarters of his tail. If she didn’t give him the medicine it would have totally been amputated.”
Fortunately, seven-year-old Lucky is able to survive without most of his tail because he is domesticated. If he were in the wild, he would need it to defend himself against predators.
Kayla is ecstatic Lucky is OK. In fact, she feels “amazing” her reptile friend is alive and well.
“I’d probably cry for a week if I found out he was going to be put down,” she said. “I love my Lucky so much.”
While the Moore’s aren’t sure of Lucky’s gender, they think of him as a male. Nevertheless, his name works either way.
“I couldn’t think of a name but then I had a soccer game and I said, ‘If I win this game I’m going to call him Lucky,’” said Kayla. “I scored a goal and we won so it just made sense to me.”
Lucky is one of Kayla’s three pets. She also has a hamster Snowball, as well as a dog, Max, who is a Shiatsu/Bison mix.
“My dog licked Lucky once and made the funniest face,” she said with a laugh.
Through the years, Kayla has had other pets, including an iguana, guinea pigs, geckos, and fish. She said she loves all animals and may want to pursue a career caring for them.
“I either want to be a veterinarian or a nurse,” she said. “I love animals but I like to help people, too. I always wanted to be a vet on Animal Planet.”
A few years ago, Kayla took horseback ridding lessons at Dapper Dan Stable in East Greenwich. She also worked there once a week to help children learn how to ride, as well as tack up and feed the horses.
“She really knows her animals,” Wayne said. “She even trained the dog. In an hour, she had him rolling over.”
But Lucky holds a special place in her heart.
“He’s her baby,” Jodi said.
Kayla’s grandmother Arlene Pollock agrees. She is proud that Kayla has such a compassionate heart.
“She really loves the little guy and just wanted to make him better,” Arelene said. “He’s ‘lucky’ he has Kayla.”
As far as her money is concerned, Kayla has big plan for it.
“I’m saving up for an iPad,” she said.