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Boxcar Betty beats odds

March 26th, 2005, 06:49 PM
Survives 13 days sealed in rail car

Saturday, March 26, 2005

She doesn't have a green card, but Boxcar Betty evaded authorities and rode the rails from Chicago to Regina and will soon have a home.

At the moment, the scrawny illegal alien resides in isolation at the Regina Humane Society.

"We got a call about 4:30 (Thursday) morning from a CP employee saying that she had come out of a sealed container from Chicago and they say that there's no way she could have gotten in other than at Chicago," said Gail MacMillan of the Humane Society.

"They wanted to keep her until morning because they were having so much fun with her, but then about 5:15 we got a call saying, 'Help, she's having babies.' "

Dolan Lemond, a conductor, found the domestic short-hair orange tabby when the train stopped at Canadian Pacific's Regina yard.

"I was on the last car and heard a cat meow," he said Thursday. "I thought it was a brake on a car because it whines, so I got off and walked around the car a couple of times and looked underneath. We opened up the doors and out came the cat. It had a kitten right in the cab of our engine and then she had two more inside the station."

Lemond used his Swiss Army knife to cut the first umbilical cord.

"I'm a city kid so I'm not very good at this stuff," he said. "We went into the station and she gave birth to another one and another guy walked in and he doesn't have a very good stomach so he started the dry heaves. He went right into the bathroom and then she had two more."

The five premature kittens did not survive. Lemond believes that the cat was locked into the rail car on March 11 at 9 a.m.

"I have a hunch that she was malnourished to start with, but she is wonderful -- she is such a sweet cat," MacMillan said.

Lemond hopes to adopt Boxcar Betty, but whether she retains her name will be his wife's decision.

"They said they had to keep her for a couple of days, but we will be the first people they call and I'm sure we'll take her," Lemond said.

The cat has no tattoo, licence or collar to identify her.

"Our policy is going to be the same as with all stray animals that come into the shelter," MacMillan said. "We have to hold her for four days for an owner to have the chance to come and claim her -- and that's obviously not going to happen and then at that time we'll decide when we're going to put her up for adoption."

The three-year-old will be checked by a vet, vaccinated and fattened up before she's available for adoption.