Woman Adopts One of the 'Perfect' Dogs Who Inspired Her Animal Rescue Work: 'We're So Grateful' (Exclusive)

Cayleigh Aslanian started supporting Kabul Small Animal Rescue, and her future dog Jumper, in 2021

<p>Kabul Small Animal Rescue; Cayleigh Aslanian/Carli Williams</p> Jumper in Afghanistan in 2021 (left)  and Jumper with her new family

Kabul Small Animal Rescue; Cayleigh Aslanian/Carli Williams

Jumper in Afghanistan in 2021 (left) and Jumper with her new family
  • Cayleigh Aslanian first learned about Kabul Small Animal Rescue in Afghanistan through Facebook in 2021

  • Jumper was one of over 300 pets that the rescue, founded by Charlotte Maxwell-Jones, transported to the U.S. in 2024 to find homes

  • Aslanian adopted Jumper in June; the dog was one of the canines featured in the 2021 story that attracted Aslanian to KSAR

Three years ago, Cayleigh Aslanian of Denville, New Jersey, was scrolling her Facebook feed when she saw a post that stopped her.

It was August 2021, and some 6,700 miles away, Afghanistan's capital city of Kabul had been seized by the Taliban. During a two-week period, thousands of people, including foreign diplomatic staff, military personnel, and vulnerable Afghans, were evacuated from the city's airport.

Kabul Small Animal Rescue (KSAR), a nonprofit run by American Charlotte Maxwell-Jones, was on the scene trying to fly out dozens of dogs and cats on chartered flights before U.S. troops left. Some animals were the pets of evacuating Americans, some were retired working dogs, and some were KSAR residents.

That effort failed, and the animals were set loose into the airport as it was emptied, turning once beloved and rescued animals into frightened strays.

One of those was a beautiful dog named Jumper, who had a full, ivory-colored coat and a freckled face. Aslanian didn't know it then, but their paths would cross someday.

"It really broke my heart to see that all those dogs who had been ready to fly to their forever homes were now just running around the airport," Aslanian tells PEOPLE. Luckily, many released animals, including Jumper, were eventually recovered.

<p>Kabul Small Animal Rescue</p> Jumper the dog

Kabul Small Animal Rescue

Jumper the dog

Aslanian began following the rescue closely, becoming an avid supporter. She sent donations when she could, created an annual birthday fundraiser for the rescue, and continually shared the rescue's posts to raise its visibility.

Back in Kabul, Maxwell-Jones continued with her efforts with KSAR, which she founded in 2018. The Tennessean had landed in Afghanistan close to a decade earlier to complete her PhD dissertation research in archaeology. Seeing the country's vast need for animal protection, she created KSAR.

Maxwell-Jones never intended to run an animal rescue — though she believes that her personality makes her uniquely suited for the job. "I think I've been stubborn since I was a kid," she says. "There aren't many people who could do my job or would want to do my job. I don't stop — ever. I don't sleep and I do a lot of negotiations with the government in which I absolutely don't back down."

Related: Woman Agrees to Buy Puppy Born with 'Missing Toe' After Breeder Discovers Claw-Like Paw (Exclusive)

Her efforts help both animals and people. The rescue employs 92 full-time staff from the community, including five veterinarians. KSAR is funded almost solely by personal donations and is an entirely free clinic, not charging for any veterinary or rescue work.

Running an animal rescue in Afghanistan isn't easy. Maxwell-Jones says, "There's a massive food shortage, and people are hungry. Animals are mostly looked on as fellow inhabitants of the city but treated more like pests than companions. But the Afghan people—there's a generosity of spirit. When you ask for help, you really get it."

<p>Cayleigh Aslanian/Carli Williams</p> Jumper in New Jersey

Cayleigh Aslanian/Carli Williams

Jumper in New Jersey

Maxwell-Jones asked for a lot of help this spring: She, her staff, and more than a dozen temporary employees embarked on a herculean effort to bring some of the rescue's feline and canine residents to the United States in a quest to place them in new homes. In early June, a chartered airlift of 300 lucky animals arrived in Washington, D.C.. After landing, the pets went as far as Maine and California to adoptive homes or rescues.

Related: Military Dog Handler Friends Adopt Their Canine Partners After Dogs Retire at the Same Time

Jumper was among the 300 pets on the transport. Like when Aslanian learned about KSAR's work and knew she had to help, the New Jersey woman instantly connected with Jumper.

"I was scrolling social media one morning back in March," says Aslanian, "and someone was talking about how Jumper was the longest resident at the rescue and how she is cat friendly. I told my fiancé Kyle [Brennan], 'Oh my God, she's perfect for us.'" Aslanian and Brennan messaged KSAR about their interest in adopting Jumper ahead of the transport. On June 5, after Jumper's international trip, the dog joined the couple's home, which includes two cats.

<p>Cayleigh Aslanian/Carli Williams</p> Jumper the dog with Kyle Brennan (left) and Cayleigh Aslanian

Cayleigh Aslanian/Carli Williams

Jumper the dog with Kyle Brennan (left) and Cayleigh Aslanian

Since then, "she's really just been doing everything that we do together," says Aslanian. "She's such a calm dog, especially for what she's been through. And she's super friendly. Everyone she meets loves her. She shoves her head on your lap and asks for pets."

Jumper's new life is outdoor zoomies and snoozes in the middle of her dog bed while Aslanian and Brennan work in their home offices. Once disinterested in toys, "now she's obsessed with a fluffy hedgehog we got her," says Aslanian. Jumper has met both sets of "grandpawrents," as Aslanian calls them, "and she makes my dad wish he'd adopted a dog too."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Jumper also enjoys a hot dog joint in town. She's been to breweries, listened to live music, and taken boat rides to the Jersey shore.

"We're so grateful to have her," says Aslanian. "She's really our third wheel now, and we love it."

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.