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Sunday, January 21, 2018, 2:48 a.m.

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Daughter, God inspire Malvern Animal Shelter director

By Sam Pierce

This article was published January 8, 2018 at 9:21 a.m.

Scott Efird, director of the Malvern Animal Shelter, holds Doogie, a pit bull he rescued. Efird has also been the pastor at The Church of Faith in Malvern for the past six years. He said the birth of his daughter, Kazz Efird, is what inspired him to turn his life around after spending his youth partying.

Scott Efird spent most of his adult life doing what he wanted to do. He partied, rode his motorcycle and had fun.

Then at 34 years old, Efird received a wake-up call.

“I had a daughter,” said Efird, who has worked as director of the Malvern Animal Shelter for almost three years. “She was diagnosed with a lot of physical health problems — she wasn’t even supposed to walk or talk.

“God used that to get my attention.”

Efird said that when his daughter, Kazz Efird, was born, she didn’t have an immune system and didn’t have a stomach lining, and her brain was disproportionate to her head.

“That was going to cause all the mechanical skills, such as walking and talking, to not work …,” Scott Efird said. “My wife, [Kristi], was heartbroken.”

Efird said his daughter was born two months premature.

“We weren’t doing the right thing,” he said. “My wife was about five months pregnant before we found out we were pregnant, and then we had the baby about a month later.”

When their daughter was about 10 days old, they took her to their family doctor, where they received the most practical advice.

“He said, ‘If all this true, what are you going to do with her?’” Efird said. “And my wife said, ‘I’m going to take her home and take care of her.’

“And [the doctor] said, ‘That’s right. Don’t worry about all this other stuff. Take her home and take care of her.’”

Efird said they had a lot of people praying for her, and by the time Kazz was 2 years old, he said, doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with her.

“She never had any particular treatments or anything,” he said.

It was then that Efird said he surrendered his life to God and started “living for him.” Efird currently serves as the lead minister for The Church of Faith, a nondenominational church at 923 Wilson St. in Malvern.

Now his daughter is 20 years old and is studying to become a veterinary technician.

“I have always loved animals,” Kazz said. “That was a passion of mine. I was looking for direction, and I could do it all online, and it is something I definitely could go with.”

Kazz received her GED in 2016 and is studying through online courses with Penn Foster College in Arizona. She also works with Dr. Nall Loyd at the Animal Medical Clinic in Malvern and volunteers at the animal shelter with her dad.

“I have always loved animals,” Kazz said. “Volunteering there was a new opportunity to help them.

“It is hard sometimes to see the animals come through because they have been abused or have had tough lives, but it is a nice feeling knowing that I am making a difference.”

Scott started the church six years ago, and its congregation has grown to about 85 people.

“For the first year and a half, we met in the chapel of a funeral home,” he said. “We met there on Sunday mornings, but then this facility opened up a couple blocks from the shelter.

“God has really been at work. It has been good.”

Scott, who graduated from Malvern High School in 1982, worked for Entergy for 25 years, and before becoming the director for the shelter, he was a financial counselor at St. Vincent Hospital. He said he has felt called to the ministry since he was 13 years old.

“I knew that is what God wanted me to do,” he said. “It just wasn’t what I wanted to do. Preachers I knew always wore suits, and they didn’t look very happy.

“I wanted to go out and have fun and be a biker, ride motorcycles and go to parties. That’s what I did for a lot of years of my young adult life.”

Scott righted the ship after the birth of his daughter.

“My parents tell me that I wasn’t able to walk or talk,” Kazz said, “but growing up, I didn’t see or have any health problems. I guess the doctors were just wrong about that.”

One of her favorite memories about working at the animal shelter is rescuing a pit bull named Amos in 2016.

“He was in really bad shape,” she said. “[My dad] believed he was a bait dog (for fighting) and thought he wasn’t going to make it.

“I would just go out there and hand-feed him and give him water. I would doctor his cuts and wounds with anything we had around.”

After about five days, Amos was up walking.

“He was the most loyal dog and my best friend,” Kazz said. “He is one of our biggest success stories.”

Scott said the dog was thrown out at the exit ramp near the interstate.

“He was so beat up and had road rash,” Scott said. “When I got out there, he couldn’t even walk.

“I picked him up and brought him here. After a few days, he got back up and was on his feet.

“He ended up going to a rescue home. That’s one of the good memories.”

Scott said the shelter currently has about 10 dogs.

“A lot of the dogs that come through are pit bulls,” he said. “We have been relying mostly on adoptions lately.

“We had about five adoptions in the past couple of weeks for Christmastime, so that was good.”

Pam Hall, a retired high school English teacher, volunteers at the shelter.

“Scott is persistent, and he is dedicated to doing the right thing,” she said. “He wants to educate people, and he wants people to do better as far as being better pet owners.

“He is definitely an animal lover, and he wants the animals to be taken care of.”

Hall taught at Glen Rose High School and said she tries to help whenever Scott is really busy.

“There is such a need,” she said. “The need is tremendous. I have my own animals, and all five of my dogs are rescue dogs.

“Those shelter dogs need someone to love and play with them. They need love and affection so that they are adoptable. They deserve that.

“It is not their fault they ended up in the shelter.”

Kazz said that before her dad accepted the position at the shelter, it was known for being a “high-kill shelter.”

“And he knows how I feel about that,” she said. “He didn’t want to put any of them down. He knows a bunch of people in the community and has helped find homes and have the dogs adopted out.”

She said since her dad has taken over, the shelter has only had to put down two dogs.

“One had rabies, and the other was terribly violent,” Kazz said. “[My dad] loves animals, too, and this is the perfect job for him.”

“Being out in the community, dealing with a lot of people, gives you an opportunity to be a witness and serve,” Scott said. “It is certainly a job of service.”

Staff writer Sam Pierce can be reached at (501) 244-4314 or spierce@arkansasonline.com.

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