Only a few short weeks ago, Pit Bull–Labrador Retriever mix puppies Jeffrey and Jermaine were wandering the streets of West Philadelphia, two stray dogs in a big city left to fend for themselves alone.
But today, after they were taken in by Philadelphia no-kill animal rescue group Operation Ava, Jeffreyand Jermaine are in high demand. Thanks to a sweet photo posted online by the Chester County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in West Chester, Pennsylvania, the brothers’ story has gone viral on the web. People from as far away as the United Kingdom — where Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes like the brothers are banned, by the way — are sending messages of love and support.
“We have 3.2 million hits to that post over the last two days,” says Chester County SPCA board member Tom Hickey. “It has just touched the hearts of people all around the world.”
The photo that’s taken the world by storm shows Jeffrey and Jermaine snuggling, the inseparable brothers sharing one doggie bed in their kennel. But what makes the photo truly remarkable is the story behind it — one brother, Jeffrey, is blind, and the other, Jermaine, has become his brother’s touchstone and guide.
“The unconditional love and devotion these two dogs show is positively inspirational,” an SPCA spokesperson posted on the group’s Facebook page.
But the pups haven’t had their happy ending just yet, says Kimberly Cary, the SPCA volunteer who posted the sweet photo on Facebook as a courtesy to Operation Ava.
“I wish people realized that just because you’ve seen them doesn’t mean they’ve been adopted,” she explains, referring to the popularity of the now-famous photograph. “They still need somebody to come rescue them.”
When they were first rescued, it was obvious that Jeffrey and Jermaine relied on one another.
“They were obviously a little bit scared and confused,” Operation Ava Lifesaving Director Ray Little tells NBC Philadelphia. “It was immediately apparent that Jeffrey was leaning on Jermaine and that Jermaine was making every effort to stay with his brother.”
Their strong connection is still going strong today, Little explains.
“They’re always pretty much touching each other. Jeffrey really does try to maintain contact with Jermaine, especially when he’s in an unfamiliar environment,” says Little. “As soon as he gets familiar with a new place, then he becomes a little bit more independent. But it’s amazing how they try to maintain contact with each other.”
Jeffrey and his loyal brother Jermaine are clearly a bonded pair, and Operation Ava hopes a wonderful family will decide to take them both into their home.
“These guys are bonded,” Little tells Philly.com, “and Jeffrey really is dependent on Jermaine at this point. When they are separated, they get really insecure.”
Since the group put out a call looking for adopters, Operation Ava’s phone lines have been ringing off the hook.
“Yesterday we had two phone lines busy all day,” Little says. “Between yesterday and today, I’ve received over 300 emails. We’ve been contacted by people as far away as South Africa and the United Kingdom. Many phone calls come from Canada and South America. And I think we’ve heard from every state in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.”
The perfect family is out there somewhere, and the adorable 8-month-old brothers are still available. Operation Ava is reviewing applications and would like the final candidates to come meet Jeffrey and Jermaine in person.
If you’d like to learn more about Jeffrey and Jermaine, or if you would like to put in an application to adopt this bonded pair, check out the Jeffrey and Jermaine FAQ page on the Operation Ava website.