Jillian, an one-year-old cat, and her kitten, Jasper, left West Virgina to be driven 1,245 miles by car, truck and van to their new home in Canada.
Facing a “death sentence” in their state, cats and dogs like Jillian and Jasper are driven hundreds or even thousands of miles to a new home where they will get a second chance.
Jillian and Jasper, both petite, yellow-eyed Manx cats, were helped with their journey by 14 pet lovers in 7 different states. Each person drove one part of the drive and then passed the cats onto the next driver until they reached their new home in New Brunswick, Canada with Sally Holland.
The long journeys to find homes for these cats and dogs are coordinated by Dogster Railroad and Catster Railroad. Homeless animals from crowded shelters are brought into the open arms of a new family in a different state or across the country.
These pet railroads have been in existence for decades, but the power of the Internet has pushed their cause to be more effective and more numerous. Pets are transported from shelters where they face euthanization to new families who cannot afford the travel costs.
Dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, and hedgehogs all make the journey to escape their horrible fate. Dogster, Catster, and similar Yahoo groups figure out details on online message boards, make detailed maps and directions, and exchange photos of the pet to get these furry animals to their final destination.
Typically, the pet railroads run from the South and Midwest, where pet overpopulation is most prevalent, to the Northeast, Northwest, and Canada, where spaying and neutering are more widespread.
For Jillian and Jasper, they were at a crowded West Virginia animal shelter that euthanizes 49% of their animals. Holland saw their pictures on Petfinder. She called the shelter to get more information about adopting the cats. She was told that the shelter had just received 100 new cats. Holland said that the person on the phone implied that for every cat that goes in, one must come “out.” She knew that she needed to move fast.
Holland posted up an urgent plea on the Catster Railroad forum. Within weeks, Operation Miracle Manx was on its way. Catster members volunteered to drive different legs of the journey to bring Jasper and Jillian to Holland. Amidst a few challenges, Holland finally found enough drivers to transport the cats, and enough people to open their homes to have the cats stay at during the long journey.
Finally on July 22, in Holton, Maine, Holland met Jillian and Jasper for the first time. The moment was filled with so much happiness and emotion. She had saved these precious cats from an unknown future. She had found two cats to show them the love and attention they deserved.
Now, these two Manx cats lounge around their apartment in Canada. Jasper even has his own blog and talks about his dual citizenship in the US and Canada.
Source: Boston Globe