I've written about Cedarhill Animal Sanctuary, in New Caledonia, Mississippi, several times in the past.
Kay McElroy, the founder has dedicated most of her live to rescuing cats of all sizes from unhappy situations. Many of these are exotic animals, like "pet" tigers and lions, which silly (to give them the benefit of the doubt) people buy, then can't handle, then abuse and abandon.
I've been a contributor for years, and for a long time, Shawn Lea and I have talked about taking a road trip up to the sanctuary. Shawn lives in Jackson, MS, so it would be a short jump upstate from there.
Kay McElroy with her caring staff tends to the animals, feeds them, nurtures and loves them, finds funds for surgeries and medical care, and medication. They have recently expanded space so the tigers have room to roam and a big pool to cool themselves in.
After Katrina, they took in a lot of stray animals, mostly cats. I keep harping on cats, but they've also cared for horses, pigs, dogs, almost any sick, homeless creature.
Here's a YouTube Gallery of films from Cedarhill. Click on "Snow White and Cinderella" to get a look at two tigers being released from lives in a cage into a spacious, grassy enclosure. It brought tears to my eyes.
Because of her tremendous work, Kay is one of ten finalists for Animal Planet's Cat Hero of the Year Award. I don't know the others, but none can be as deserving. She's the only finalist who cares for exotic cats. At the sanctuary, there are more than 300 animals, including 12 tigers, 5 lions, 4 cougars, 2 bobcats, a wolf, and more than 200 domestic cats, 30 dogs, and 6 horses.
In addition to caring for the animals, she is active in changing the law. After four years, a law she authored, the Exotic Animal Welfare Law passed, making it illegal to hold exotic animal auctions or canned hunts in Mississippi.
Please send Kay a vote of support here. She's fourth from the top. Then click "submit" at the bottom. That's all there is to it.
When she wins, Kay will receive $5000 (a drop in the bucket, really....less than a week's food) from Fresh Step Litter and Animal Planet, and be filmed showing how the prize is used, for airing on Animal Planet.
Voting ends at 11:59 PM on October 8. You can only vote once. Please vote now and tell your friends. An animal will thank you. (Kay too. Me too.)
[The video shows various animals arriving at Cedarhill, and some great footage of Valentino the lion rolling around on his back like a kitten.]