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K-State Today

March 26, 2013



Veterinary medicine donation supports pet owners

By KSU Foundation

Ever since her first animal rescue in 1979, Cheryl Mellenthin has dedicated her life to helping animals in need. It all started with an apricot miniature poodle tethered to shrubbery in a Texas front yard.

“She was terrified of thunder,” she said. “She was so matted, all her hair had to be shaved off.”

Fast-forward 34 years later, and hardly a day has passed without Mellenthin’s intervention on behalf of neglected or abused animals. Alongside her husband, Mark Chapman, on a ranch in Cat Spring, Texas, Mellenthin cares for a menagerie including dogs, cats, parrots, rabbits, horses and donkeys.

“Except for the donkeys, everybody’s a rescue,” she said.

Aside from caring for rescued animals, Mellenthin operates a nonprofit to defray the cost of spaying and neutering animals. Prevent Unwanted Pets, or PUPS, began 10 years ago with about 20 spay and neuter operations per month. With a growing network of 20 veterinarian partners in eight counties, PUPS has now aided a total of more than 9,000 spay and neuter operations.

“The pet population is much better now since we got started,” Mellenthin said. “The vets and the police departments swear to it, but we’ve still got a long way to go.”

During her limited free time, Mellenthin can be found traveling with her husband — often to K-State, his alma mater. She has heartily embraced Kansas State University, with a purple paw print tattoo to prove it. Chapman and Mellethin have generously supported many areas across campus, most recently providing a gift to the Veterinary Health Center.

Their gift helped launch construction of the Chapman-Mellenthin Plaza, a space outside Mosier Hall featuring a water observation area, benches, trees and commemorative pavestones. The plaza is now in the construction and supplementary fundraising stage.

Mellenthin, who has a background in nursing, said she has always respected the veterinary profession and the work veterinary schools do. She was thrilled when her husband agreed to make the initial donation for the Chapman-Mellenthin plaza in her honor.

“It’s a nice place for people whose animals are receiving treatment,” she said. “They need a pretty place to sit — not in some waiting room — plus it makes the school look more inviting. It’s the right thing to do.”