Not your average animal shelter

MONTREAL (CUP) – By hosting awareness fundraisers like a ‘Pussy Party’ for stray cats and a ‘Hip-Hop’ for rabbit rescues, a new animal rescue group is hoping to help save animals by engaging young people.

Eleven Eleven Animal Rescue, founded by 20-year-old Caroline Ross, grew out of her life-long love of animals.

“It was always something I knew I would do, just a matter of when,” she said over a beer at Ye Old Orchard Pub in Montreal, where the group is based.

Raised in the Cayman Islands, Ross was active in animal rescue and animal fostering from a young age. She now works in a veterinary clinic.

“When you get kittens that are sick being brought into to be euthanized – it was pretty hard to see,” said Ross.

Ross decided something needed to be done and began rescuing animals and placing them in foster homes without outside help.

“I got one dog after another, then I started getting kittens, and it just sort of built up this summer, much more than previous years,” she said. “I wanted to start doing it more professionally, so I could save more animals on a larger scale.” Ross founded Eleven Eleven in response to the rising demand.

“I actually have the name [Eleven Eleven] tattooed on my feet,” Ross said. She went on to explain that the name references a belief that there are 1,111 guardian angels of earth.

To help with the new organization, Ross enlisted the help of Lora Miniccuci. The two long-time friends, who often finish each other’s sentences, took over different parts of the rescue group.

“Our main goal is to have an organization that is self-sustaining and eventually to be able to offer funding to other groups that may not have the resources we do,” said Miniccuci, who handles public relations for the group.

Eleven Eleven spays and neuters every animal offered for adoption before sending them to foster homes. They also provide any required medical treatment, including de-worming and shots. The group rescues all sorts of animals, including reptiles, rabbits, gerbils and hamsters. Individual profiles of each animal available for adoption are available on the organization’s website,

To help find prospective foster parents, Eleven Eleven has targeted a younger audience than existing animal shelters, using a combination of web-based marketing, a clothing line and a series of local events to get the message out.

The Internet marketing includes a Facebook group that regularly sends out alerts to members when animals are in need of placement or medical care.

“Right now we have a dog that needs an amputation that we need to raise money for,” said Ross.

The dog in question, Xiao-Hei, was brought to Canada after being hit by a car in China. To help raise funds to pay for an operation for the dog’s hind left leg, Eleven Eleven held its first fundraiser, ‘Party Like an Animal, For the Animals.’

The event is just the first in a series of planned events, each based around a different fund raising theme. Next up is a cat-themed Halloween party to raise money to rescue stray cats. The event will be called the ‘Pussy Party.’ An Easter event called ‘Hip-Hop’ will raise money for abandoned rabbits.

“Many people buy rabbits for Easter and then give them up,” said Miniccuci. “The money will go to Stephanie, a partner who does the rabbit rescue for the SPCA. It will be an example of us raising money to help other causes.”

Eleven Eleven also hopes to educate the public about the importance of spaying and neutering animals.

“If we had to make a statement, it’s ‘adopt from a shelter, don’t buy from a puppy store,’” said Miniccuci. Ross nods in agreement.

“So many animals are euthanized at the SPCA every year,” said Ross. “Whenever you allow your cat or dog to have a litter of puppies or kittens, you are stealing a home from a shelter dog – literally killing another shelter animal.”