Franklin woman makes life more comfortable for pets

Published 8:26 am Saturday, June 9, 2012


Theresa Kraft turned this bedspread into a pet mat. -- STEPHEN H. COWLES | TIDEWATER NEWS

FRANKLIN—With skillful hands and a loving heart, Theresa Kraft is creating comfort for cats and dogs at area clinics and shelters.

A resident of The Village of Woods Edge in Franklin, Kraft makes mats for the animals’ crates.

The idea began Easter weekend when the 87-year-old and her daughter rode past the building intended for the new animal shelter in Suffolk. Then, just a couple of weeks ago, Kraft met with Billie Turner, activities director at The Village.

“We got into a conversation and Turner said, ‘I’ve got two big shelves of material, but don’t know what do with it,’” Kraft said.

Kraft figured out a use.

“I owe a lot to the people at Habitat for Humanity for materials,” she said, noting that Mary Eckenrod at The Village collected leftover quilting pieces for her.

Kraft can make 10 mats in two days, though the type and quality of material makes a difference, especially if she needs to create layers or smooth rough edges. They’re also easy to clean.

“Dogs don’t care,” she said. “They want clean and comfortable.”

Though not a trained seamstress, Kraft learned to sew during the Great Depression, when she also learned to never throw anything away.

The Southampton Veterinary Clinic and Dogs Deserve Better in Surry County have each received 30 mats.

“I think it’s adorable,” said Tamira Thayne, director at Dogs Deserve Better. “She cuts them down to the size we need. We have a lot less wasted material, and they’re easier to wash. We’re very excited to have them.”

Kraft wants the mats to go to no-kill shelters.

“I can’t stand the thought of animals being euthanized,” she said. “I want the mats for somebody who takes care of the animals, and will keep and train and put them up for adoption. Your heart just goes out to them.”

“I’ll do this until they stop giving me material,” Kraft continued. “Probably two more hauls. I’m hoping maybe we could ship them out.”

A love for animals goes back to her childhood.

“Dad never allowed dogs inside,” said Kraft, who recalled that she and her twin brother would sneak one inside whenever he was away.

“We always had dogs afterward when I married and moved away,” she said.

Poodles have been a favorite.

“My daughter, Kathy Healy, of Suffolk, has four cats and my son, Dennis Bryant, of New Freedom, Pa., has two dogs,” Kraft said. “We like animals.”

A resident at The Village for seven years, Kraft was married to Bill Bryant for 44 years. She was married to Raymond Kraft for 18 years.