The persistence of an Iowa yellow Labrador named Reagan saved the lives of two kittens that were left to die in a Meow Mix bag on the side of a Des Moines road.
Reagan came across the bag on a country road near her home. She dragged the bag home and waited for her owner, Kerry, who did not wish to be identified by her full name. Kerry is used to Reagan bringing home trash "treasures," so when she saw the bag, she disregarded it and headed for the door.
But the dog refused to follow her inside. Reagan was "visibly upset and focused on what appeared to be a tattered bag of trash lying in the yard," according to the story posted on the Raccoon Valley Animal Sanctuary and Rescue website, where the kittens are being cared for.
When Kerry walked over to the bag, she was horrified with what she found inside.
"Two tiny kittens, screaming and covered in the blood and gore of their crushed and maimed siblings, were thrashing about trying to get free," the website said.
Of the four kittens stuffed in the bag, two survived-Skipper and Tipper, who have affectionately come to be known as the "bag kittens."
Kerry spent the rest of the night cleaning up the kittens, keeping them warm and feeding them. The next day, Kerry began making calls to animal rescue organizations and shelters, and was turned down by five organizations before being accepted by the Raccoon Valley Animal Sanctuary and Rescue.
The kittens are in good condition and were neutered on Tuesday, according to the Linda Blakely of the shelter, and now they're looking for a home.
"We've been inundated with applications, but we don't adopt on emotionally based decisions," Blakely said. "We want to make sure they don't go back into a neglect situation."
Blakely said the shelter has received more than 50 applications from all over the country and that each one will be considered. Potential future owners must go through a process that is comprised of a paper application, phone interview and home visit.
The purpose of the in-depth process is to reduce the chance of return. Blakely said that the national average for return of shelter animals is between 30 and 40 percent, while the Raccoon Valley Sanctuary's is 1 percent.
"We don't do first-come, first-serve. We do best qualified," Blakely said. The shelter is trying to find an owner that will take the male siblings together and that fulfills other qualifications including a no de-clawing policy and a multi-animal home.
Blakely said Skipper and Tipper would not have survived without the help of Reagan and Kerry, who she says are both heroes. And while the shelter appreciates the outpouring of support for the kittens, she said that people should extend this feeling to other animals in need of homes.
"Skipper and Tipper have definitely touched the world's hearts and they do need homes, but there are Skipper and Tipper situations in every shelter across the country," Blakely said. "Keep that soft spot in your heart and go to your local shelter."