The Remarkable Life of Alexa Stonebarger
On March 5, the world lost 25-year-old activist and educator Alexa Stonebarger. Alexa is being celebrated worldwide by advocates in the disability community, the dog training community, and the animal rescue community, for their tireless work to improve life for the most marginalized.
Since Alexa’s middle school years, they worked around the clock, often sleeping just two hours a night, to save many thousands of animals from certain death—at dog shelters, at slaughterhouses, and in the wild—and to make the world more accessible to people with chronic illnesses and visual impairments.
Alexa started their first charitable organization at age 14: “Fetching Dreams” sold hand-made dog toys to raise money for the Humane Society, a project that would win Alexa a presidential volunteering award and the opportunity to meet Condoleezza Rice in DC, and received congratulations from the Kansas State Senate. This project illustrated how Alexa would live their whole life: as a charity entrepreneur launching several projects a year to help nonhuman animals and people with disabilities.
Alexa’s most recent project sought to replace outdated and barbaric methods of rodent and pigeon population control—such as electrocution, drowning, and poisoning—with tasty and harmless edible contraceptives that would cause them to stop reproducing. Alexa built this project from scratch in collaboration with other animal advocates. At this time the method is being considered for approval in multiple cities, states, and nations.
Alexa took on many other projects over the years as well. For example, they became vegetarian at age six, persuaded their school to cease experiments on betta fish in the eighth grade, and did hundreds of hours of animal rescue and care volunteer work in high school. At age 14, they were named one of Kansas’ top youth volunteers of 2010. Alexa then dropped out of college at age 20 to work full-time with animal sanctuaries and, eventually, rescue thousands of animals per year with the Microsanctuary Resource Center.
Alexa also ran several popular social media accounts, such as Herdy n Happy, that educated hundreds of thousands of people about accessibility, mental illness, sexual violence, veganism, animal rescue, positive reinforcement dog training, and love and acceptance for rats, chickens, bully breeds, and insects. And they offered support to anyone who reached out, regularly helping people struggling with grief, depression, service dog training, and accessibility issues.
Alexa had lifelong depression, anxiety, and anhedonia from the age of six, due to an underlying medical complication of Vascular Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. In January 2021, they had a blood clot removed from their lung, allowing them to fully oxygenate their body for the first time in 19 years. The morning they woke up, Alexa experienced happiness for the first time since age six. They loved and cherished the last year of their life.
You can find more information about Alexa’s remarkable life, including stories from their friends, family, and colleagues, here. You can support Alexa’s project to replace unnecessarily violent methods of rodent and pigeon population control – ensuring that their important and neglected work will outlast them – here. And if you need to speak with someone for a story about Alexa, you can contact their partner Tyler John here.