2015-07-03 / Community

Rescue gets its first southern kittens

By Molly Lovell-Keely Managing Editor


Marilyn Harley, who runs Another Chance Animal Rescue, greets kittens from North Carolina at her home. Unwanted animals in the south are often put down or live in unfavorable conditions. (Molly Lovell-Keely photo) Marilyn Harley, who runs Another Chance Animal Rescue, greets kittens from North Carolina at her home. Unwanted animals in the south are often put down or live in unfavorable conditions. (Molly Lovell-Keely photo) BIDDEFORD – Two kittens at PetSmart in Biddeford may not have made it out of the south if it wasn’t for a group of dedicated volunteers.

Coraline and Melodey, along with seven other kittens, arrived at Another Chance Animal Rescue in Sanford from North Carolina on June 14.

Marilyn Harley, who runs the rescue out of her home at 251 Country Club Road in Sanford, and greeted the kittens, the rescue’s first transport of southern felines. They were transported to Maine from New Jersey by Kelli Cassidy, a Massachusetts resident who, over the last year, helped get 400 cats to the Northeast from southern states that have high kill rates among unwanted animals.

“It’s horrible,” Cassidy said of the conditions and overcrowding at shelters in North Carolina, where most of the cats are from.


A kitten, now at PetSmart in Biddeford, gets her first look at Another Chance’s cat room in Sanford after traveling from North Carolina. The rescue has adopted cats out of PetSmart for about a year, and organizers say it has served as a good way to promote the rescue. (Molly Lovell-Keely photo) A kitten, now at PetSmart in Biddeford, gets her first look at Another Chance’s cat room in Sanford after traveling from North Carolina. The rescue has adopted cats out of PetSmart for about a year, and organizers say it has served as a good way to promote the rescue. (Molly Lovell-Keely photo) Cassidy isn’t associated with any rescue, but has been transporting cats for three years. Every cat that’s transported has a health certificate, meaning it is examined by a veterinarian before leaving its home state.

“They find me,” Cassidy said of homeless cats, adding that while on vacation in Barbados, she and her husband befriended two stray cats that were near death and found a way to fly them to the United States.

“It took a month for us to figure out how to do it,” she said. “We had to build carriers out of wood and it cost us a fortune. They lived outside – we worried they’d pee all over the house, but they immediately used the litter box, ate and climbed up on the couch with us. They were home.”

In January, Cassidy visited some people in the south who foster the cats that eventually make their way north, and found the shelters are understaffed and underfunded. She also said neuter programs haven’t caught on like they have in the northeast.

“People who do care, who volunteer down there, are so burned out. They’re financially exhausted – they pay for everything themselves,” she said.

Cassidy said rescuing cats isn’t a passion, though Another Chance volunteer Kirstin Mininni playfully disagreed.

“I don’t want to be doing this every weekend, but I can sit and watch TV or I can do this,” Cassidy said, adding that she thinks there will always be too many homeless cats.

“People are starting to bring in cats (to the United States) from Egypt. They’re the most beautiful cats I’ve ever seen. They’ll be bred over there, and when pet stores are done with them, they let them loose,” Cassidy said. “There will never be an end, unfortunately.”

Minini and Harley got involved with Another Chance about eight years ago. The rescue has been in existence for 12 years. Mininni worked was a manager at a local shelter for 11 years and now also volunteers with Lucky Pup Rescue, which also accepts transports of dogs from the south.

Harley uses a building next to her home to shelter anywhere from 20 to 25 cats at a time. She keeps kittens in a room in her home; two weeks ago there were 15 kittens in the house.

Cats from Another Chance have been adopted through PetSmart in Biddeford for about a year; 70 cats have found forever homes through the program.

Mininni manages the PetSmart program, and recruited volunteers to feed the cats each day and clean their cages. She would welcome other locations if a volunteer force could be found to take care of the cats’ daily needs. Pet Life in Sanford recently started adopting cats out of its 1364 Main St. location. In 2014, Another Chance adopted out 392 cats.

Cats 1 to 8 years old are $50 and kittens are $110. Cats older than 8 are by donation.

The cost is a bit low, Mininni said, but it covers the cost to sterilize the cats at Animal Welfare Society’s spay and neuter clinic and takes care of other veterinary care from Post Road Veterinary Clinic in Wells.

Mininni said the PetSmart location is important to the rescue since the organization does run a typical shelter. The cats learn to live with one another and Harley’s dog, Baxter, who came from Lucky Pup Rescue.

“I think it’s easier for the animals and healthier to have them in this kind of set up, a home environment, rather than a sterile kennel,” Mininni said.

Harley opens up the rescue at her home every Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and welcomes visitors. The rescue also operates a thrift store on Market Street in North Berwick 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday, when adoptions are also held.

Another Chance needs volunteers for a variety of tasks, including fostering, socializing, events, paperwork and cleaning.

Harley will host the rescue’s annual giant yard sale Thursday, Aug. 13, Friday, Aug. 14 and Saturday, Aug. 15 that serves as an important fundraiser for the rescue.

Mininni said volunteering can be a lot of work, but it’s rewarding. She also volunteers with Maine Lost Dog Recovery.

“If you love animals and have a night or two you can commit to, giving back to help these wonderful creatures move on and find their homes is so rewarding.”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities, call Mininni at 468-7600.

FMI

To learn more about becoming a volunteer for Another Chance Animal Rescue, call Kirstin Mininni at 468-7600. Volunteers are needed to help care for the cats at PetSmart in Biddford, among other opportunities.

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