WASILLA - Two tiny kittens owe their lives to a rescue by a couple of seasoned "junkyard dogs."
The pair is a little smudged but otherwise unharmed after the nest of shredded paper their mother made for them under a pickup seat was smashed by a car crusher over the weekend.
Gary Jacobsen, 10-year owner of Alaska Car Crushing of Wasilla, said the kittens were a pretty lucky pair. They've been named Crush and Smash as a reminder of their ordeal.
"It's unbelievable they're alive. They were the luckiest cats in the world the other day," Jacobsen said.
The kittens were living in a brownish-purple 1970s-era GMC crew cab pickup. Jacobsen said the truck had been at the yard a while, maybe a couple of years. He said he thinks the mother cat likely moved the other kittens out of the nest but may have been interrupted before retrieving this pair.
A worker checked the truck before it was loaded into the crusher, he said, but the kittens were under a back seat, in an area that was difficult to see.
The truck was put through the crusher Aug. 1, then stacked on a flatbed trailer - the bottom-most in a stack of nine vehicles - and strapped down to be hauled to Schnitzer Steel in Anchorage for shredding, Jacobsen said.
On Monday, Aug. 3, Jacobsen's brother Jeff Pruitt heard a "mew" while standing beside the loaded vehicles. Thinking it might be a toy, the men listened for another sound for more than 10 minutes. Amid all the engine noise from running machinery at the business, the "mew" was inaudible.
Jacobsen said they turned all the equipment off, then heard the sound again. Workers at the plant spent about an hour unloading the vehicles stacked on top of the truck and ripping the roof off. After a lot of prying - and a little ribbing - they found the kittens' nest under the seat.
Asked how the cats survived the brutal strength of the crusher, Jacobsen said a well-placed tire - an item usually removed before crushing - kept the cab area from being completely crushed.
Crush and Smash have been adopted by Shirah Roth at Schnitzer Steel in Anchorage.