Let’s pretend that in the midst of your whirlwind of a workday, you take a moment to look up from your phone. Scanning the scene, you confirm you are on the correct public transport, and inspect those around you. Other people traveling to and from work, and others off to unknown and exciting destinations. Some take the opportunity to get to know the people around them and emerge from their electronic numbness. And the possibilities of who you will encounter are endless! So for commuters in New Jersey, they have the opportunity to learn about one very amazing woman. She has been seen traveling on New Jersey’s buses and trains–whatever it takes!–with armloads of cat supplies. But what exactly is she doing?
Well, if you want to know WHY she’s on the city buses and trains with the odd items, all you have to do is ask. She’s happy to share her “tale”.
And now here, I’m honored to share her story with the world–outside of Jersey. I guarantee she is not the only person who does what she does. But she is one of the MOST inspiring. With a no “man” left behind mentality and the perfect balance of sweet and sass.
So world, meet Jennifer TrapQueen Barnes, the woman sitting next to you on the bus. She’s across from you on the train, with cats staring at you from the next seat. Occasionally, when the situation demands an immediate rescue mission, you’re the Lyft driver picking her up.
She is the solo hero lugging cages for trapping cats, bags and cans of cat food and jugs of water around the city. She’s a voice for the voiceless. Jennifer is a TNVR (Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return) trapper and feral colony caretaker.
I am a disabled Marine Corp Veteran that served and protected the people of the United States. I was hurt and injured in the line of duty. So once I was honorably discharged, I now protect and serve, along with advocating. I don’t worry about getting blacklisted against animal shelters, I don’t worry about how other people will view me negatively, I don’t make excuses, I simply get it done. Why? Because it needs to be done.
Jennifer has been rescuing cats since 2014 and became involved with TNR in 2017. And it wasn’t an easy undertaking to get to where she is today.
I started wanting to TNR to make a difference on my block. I had 2 women show me how to TNR for 3 or 4 months. As a black woman, there aren’t that many black people that do what I do and on my level.
Then late one evening, I found that a cat had passed away when I went to feed my colony. That’s when I knew I had to do something on my own. I couldn’t wait around for someone to come trap for me again. I knew enough in four months and from paying attention in groups to do it on my own.
Even if that is done by way of the buses and trains of the public transportation system!
Because although Jennifer doesn’t drive, that is NEVER going to stop her from setting out to help a cat in need.
When traveling by bus or train when I TNR, I get to talk to all kinds of people about what I do. At the present moment, I have no choice but to travel this way. And I am not going to make excuses as to why I can not TNR. TNR is so important and it really does save lives.
She has braved dangerous neighborhoods where she was 50 feet away from shots fired, but escaped with the cat safely. Jennifer doesn’t turn down helping felines when others take back their promise to offer foster homes or supplies. She HAS turned down suggestions to euthanize animals because it was the “easy way out”. And those animals later lived to happily thank her for it!
Hindered transportation aside, Jennifer has now taken up another inspiring goal with all her rescue work.
She is part of a very motivating group of individuals who’ve made it their mission to educate everyone about stray and feral cats. Because when you delve into the world of animal rescue, it can be a dark hole that’s very difficult to climb out of. You need all the heartwarming stories of a lives saved that you can get. What helps you sleep at night, is the comfort of knowing you helped STOP the suffering of future animals. You need inspiration and support, but these aren’t always readily available.
Luckily, Jennifer found Sterling “TrapKing” Davis at a time in her life where she was struggling with her volunteer work.
TNR can be rewarding, but, it can be heartbreaking. My first cat I trapped, named Cheddar was caught with a drop trap. He had a huge gash on his neck, was very sick, had FELV and FIV, and was in really bad shape. He ended up being put to sleep because his injuries were so bad. I never wanted to trap ever again.
I did again a few months later though because the rewarding part is tremendous. But after TNR’ing for a year, I started to get discouraged. I was doing TNR on my own with no guidance. I was overwhelmed, black listed, and some people didn’t believe in me. I’d had some support, but, not much.
It was hard until Sterling Davis, a.k.a TrapKing showed me how TNR is done. He makes trapping fun, and it is fun. Come trap with me and I’ll show you!
I always relate to what Sterling did to a scene from the movie, Aladdin. When Princess Jasmine had stolen an apple for a little boy or girl, Aladdin and Princess Jasmine had to run from the guards to escape them. They both had to jump over to the other side to get away from the guards. Aladdin turned around and held his hand out to Jasmine and said, “Do you trust me?” He asked her again, and she said, “Yes.” He took her hand and they jumped over to safety.
Likewise, Sterling has been my mentor and advocate. He has been encouraging and helping me become a better trapper, person, and knowing my limit. He took me under his wings just when I was about to give up. I have learned so much in the short amount of time I have been TNRing.
So now when Jennifer steps onto crowded buses and trains, she is a proponent for changing much more than just the outcome for a single cat!
TrapKing Humane Cat Solutions -TrapKing Inc, was founded by Sterling back in 2017, in Georgia. TrapKing’s mission is to change the stereotypes of not only men in cat rescue, but also bridge the gap in communication between black communities and animal rescue/local shelters.
We were lucky enough to have Sterling, and his gorgeous rescue feline Damita Jo, in Tampa for KittyCon 2018. Hopefully for 2019, BOTH Jennifer and Sterling will be joining us! Be sure to share Jennifer’s story so we can all show our support and help their cause by bringing them to Florida.
Let me just say, I can confirm that he is an absolute sweetheart and full on “crazy cat guy”. What his team is doing for communities and cats everywhere is miraculous!
Using TNR as a focal point, TrapKing will assist, educate, and service communities to prevent overpopulation and spreading of disease in feral cat communities. TNR (Trap Neuter Return) is the only humane alternative to euthanasia for feral cat colonies. TrapKing’s unique approach to animal rescue will build awareness to new demographics as well as look to bring about more diversity and awareness in animal rescue going forward.
So next time you see someone riding the train or waiting for the bus with a stack of cages, remember Jennifer “TrapQueen” Barnes.
Be sure to follow all their social media pages (links are in blue) and TrapQueen’s new Instagram page! If you would like to donate directly to Jennifer, you can do so via Paypal. *Stay tuned for upcoming rescue stories from TrapQueen and TrapKing!
Jennifer also has a Facebook page called Spicy The Cat, dedicated to her fosters and rescue cats. I can’t wait to read about their “ameowzing tails” too!
REMEMBER: SPAY/NEUTER, FOSTER, VOLUNTEER, TNR & AS ALWAYS, ADOPT, DON’T SHOP!
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