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Lazarus the cat gives Kennedy students lesson in accepting differences

February 8th, 2014 8:10 pm by Rick Wagner

Lazarus the cat gives Kennedy students lesson in accepting differences

Lazarus was born with a cleft palate and no nose or upper lip. Photo by David Grace.

KINGSPORT — Some pre-kindergarten students at Kennedy Elementary School learned Thursday about appreciating the differences among humans, a lesson delivered by a famously different feline.

The pre-K students got a visit from Lazarus the cat, known as Laz, and each got to pet him.

Born with a cleft palate and no nose or upper lip, he was found at about 10 weeks old on the streets of Johnson City, where a college student found him and gave him to a professor she knew rescued animals.

“I’ve never seen these kids get so still in my life,” special education pre-K teacher Rachel Auel said as her class and the  pre-K students of Heather Russell waited to pet Laz.

Cindy Chambers, an associate professor of special education at ETSU, said after surgery and some loving care, Laz has become a local, regional, national and international sensation and has his own Facebook page. To go there or to request a visit from Laz to a school, library, church or other location, search for Care for Lazarus on Facebook to contact Chambers or email careforlazarus@yahoo.com.

“He’s a little scared but he’s excited to be here,” Chambers told the students as Laz sat on her hip like a human baby would. She said when he gets scared or frightened, he wraps his front paws around her neck, and he’s initially shy around people he doesn’t know or in large groups.

For an expanded version of this article, please see Sunday’s print edition or our expanded electronic edition.

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