by Elisa Black-Taylor
Rhonda Sims of The Freedom Train
The title sounds like a perfect world government and an American western movie, doesn't it readers? This story is all good and you won't need Kleenex. Today I'd like to talk about Cats Rule Feline Rescue and The Freedom Train Animal Rescue transporter service.
Grab yourself a cup of coffee and turn on your brain because the ideas here can be made to work anywhere. Consider today's lesson a free crash course in organization.
Cat's Rule Feline Rescue(CR!FR) began when a cat lover from Virginia discovered a feral cat and her kittens at a rest stop off of the New Jersey Turnpike. This animal lover returned (hours from her home) and rescued the feral family and has been at it ever since. I love the ideas and commitment this organization has.
Keep in mind they need help reaching their new goals to add new facilities and spread the good news about what they do.
I'd like to mention they've successfully TNR'd or adopted out a total of 63 cats who made up 3 colonies and 7 litters. They also share my beliefs in declawing and adopting shelter pets. I think they deserve some recognition.
Please check out their website at Cats Rule Feline Rescue. I'm going to give you the condensed version myself because these ideas are great and can be adopted all over the world.
CR!FR is a 501c3 based out of Fairfax, Virginia and is run by a team of volunteers, animal lovers and rescuers. While they will help any animal in need, their focus is on saving feral cats and rescuing those in "high kill" shelters. They offer sanctuary to the throw-aways, the unwanted. Their cats come from rest stops, behind city dumpsters, from kill shelters. They come from cats born feral and those made feral because they've been abandoned and on their own too long. Almost all of them were born homeless. Many are in need of short or long term medical treatment.
I love the way they've dealt with the ferals. People in nearby communities also needed help putting a TNR program into place. CR!FR was there to assist. Some of the areas these cats were found in weren't safe for them to be returned to. So CR!FR began keeping the cats in a "sanctuary" atmosphere and trying to rehabilitate some of them. The young ones (under 3 months) are held and petted by volunteers (wish I lived close enough to volunteer for that job). It was harder for the older ferals to trust humans, but some have been tamed enough to adopt out.
The one's who can't be rehabilitated have a home at the sanctuary for life where they can watch the outside world in safety. Sanctuary cats are fed, watered, dry, warm and loved.
I like their philosophy. Although a feral may not make the ideal pet, it can be wonderful companionship for another cat. Their ferals play with the other cats at the sanctuary. This could also be true in a home environment. Don't be afraid to give a feral a chance. I've had surprisingly good luck on taming wild cats.
Here is a link to a feral shelter built out of simple items for the ferals at the original TNR site at the New Jersey Turnpike Rest Stop. Any of us can do this for ferals and strays who live nearby. The main problem at this site is workers keep removing the makeshift shelters built by the caregivers.
One last stop on their site before I move on. It's here. CR!FR has a store that accepts PayPal. All merchandise goes to pay for the care of the sanctuary cats. They offer everything from T-shirts to magnets to bumper stickers. I think this is a brilliant idea. People are so much more likely to purchase something tangible.
I wish you all much success. In ending, I want to add their email for anyone wishing to volunteer at the sanctuary or adopt one of the cats in the above photo: firstname.lastname@example.org
Freedom Train Animal Transport
Now I'd like to introduce my readers to The Freedom Train Animal Transport. Rhonda Sims of Anderson, SC is the lady to thank for this wonderful service. Her story can be read here: Anderson woman has a passion for all of God's creatures.
Rhonda created this service in memory of her Cocker Spaniel Charlie. She has also written a book entitled "Fur Tales From the Freedom Train and Beyond" in memory of Charlie. Here's a link to the book where 60% of the proceeds go to the Charlie's Helping Paw Fund.
You can also buy it on Amazon (USA). Here is a link: Fur Tales From the Freedom Train and Beyond
I found Rhonda thru a Cats Rule link on their site into Rhonda's Freedom Train Transport because of the need for animal transporters.
Transporters are the necessary link needed to get the animals out of high-kill shelters and abusive home situations. Their mission: to get the animals to approved rescues, foster homes and furever homes. Without this group of volunteers to transfer the animals across different areas of the country, many would never reach safety.
The Freedom Train is exactly what it sounds like. Sometimes a pet is picked up at the shelter or home and needs to go to an awaiting rescuer. The trouble is, that rescuer is several states away. Volunteers drive in 60-90 mile "legs" to get the animal where it needs to go. This is a carefully planned trip where the next volunteer will meet the pet and continue on and on passing the animal on down the line until it's safe. Sometimes this turns into an overnight trip and one of the volunteers will keep the pet overnight or arrange lodging thru a foster family. Then the trip continues the next day until the rescue reaches it's destination.
This concept isn't new. Our pioneer ancestors did it all the time when relocating from one state to another.
The Freedom Train is a non-profit group. Donations are accepted and can be made on their website at: Freedom Train Animal Rescue Transport™. They also have a store.
Transporters are carefully screened so no "abusers" work for them. They perform a vital network to move the animals. Please support them in any way possible. There are many such groups out there. I focused on Freedom Train because it was linked from the CR!FS website. Together they form a life or death service for the unwanted animals filling our nations shelters. Their principles can be adjusted to work in any community. They are mostly run by women.
Why is it that most of these services are run by women? I'd like an answer to that question if anyone knows. I'd also love to hear from the different transport groups out there. I want to personally thank all of you who take time out of your busy lives and drive so more pets can live. You are all truly part of the "death row" reprieve system that includes the rescues, sanctuaries and cross-posters. Animal Shelters Crossposters and Rescue Groups.
P.S. I'd like to thank Rhonda for allowing me to use her Facebook photo. I invite her to tell us readers the emotional i mpact this service has on her. I hope she knows how special she is.
As for the cats, they are all up for adoption at Cat's Rule.
Sources other than stated: