When staffers at North Shore Animal League America take Jackson out of his cage, the 8-month old cat immediately starts nuzzling his head against their necks, crawling across their shoulders and licking their faces.
“He is the sweetest cat ever,” said Lindsey Calabrese, communications manager for the Port Washington-based NSALA. “He loves human interaction.”
Jackson’s friendly ways nearly cost him his life last month in North Carolina. A trio of boys came upon the stray cat and made a game of torturing it. On March 11, Wendell Overton, 10, of Manteo, N.C., saw the boys hit the cat, hurl it into the air, run over it with their bicycles and squirt energy drinks at it, explained Calabrese.
“He still has a little pink on his neck where the bike ran over him,” she added.
In an act of heroism reported by local ABC affiliate WVEC and picked up by numerous other outlets, Wendell stood up to the boys, scooped up the cat and took it home. He did so even though both of his parents are allergic to felines, according to John Graves, director of the Outer Banks Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals. The Overtons contacted Graves’ organization, which picked up the cat and brought it straight to a vet.
“Luckily, Wendell got him away before things escalated,” said Graves, adding that the cat only sustained minor cuts and abrasions.
Wendell’s heroic story continued to spread, but in the two weeks that followed no one came forth to adopt Jackson from the SPCA’s shelter in Manteo. Wendell visited him almost every day as he picked up his fan mail, which poured in from around the world.
“Everything happens for a reason though,” said Graves, who after years of trying to establish a working relationship with North Shore Animal League America -- the country’s largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization -- received a call in late March from Joanne Yohannan, NSALA’s senior vice president of operations.
Yohannan had heard of Wendell’s heroism and wanted to help find a home for Jackson.
NSALA arranged for Jackson to be brought to its adoption center in Port Washington, along with 16 other cats from the Outer Banks SPCA.
“Getting 17 cats out is huge,” said Graves.
He explained that NSALA has far better resources, including an in-house vet clinic, to care for the animals and find them proper homes.
If Jackson aces his medical and behavioral evaluations Tuesday, he could be available for adoption as early as Thursday.
“Because Wendell saved this cat and the story went so big .?.?. we’ll be able to save countless animals,” said Graves, who plans to work with NSALA in the future. “This is just an amazing kid. He has a heart of gold .?.?. We tell his mom every day, ‘You did such a good job.’”
To inquire about adopting Jackson, contact North Shore's adoption center at 516-883-7575.