Most weekends throughout the year, hundreds of animals are moving from high kill shelters to reputable animal rescue groups across the country. The sad reality is unless these animals are pulled from a shelter, they have run out of time. Many areas in the county have county-controlled animal shelters, so money is tight, and space is hard to come by. There are far more dogs and cats than there is room for. Some rescue animals are moved by commercial airline with fees paid for by an adopter, others are moved via paid transportation companies that specialize in driving animals. Still more are moved by chains of volunteers that give up part of their day to meet other animal lovers in parking lots and rest stops to help save an animal and get it to its foster or forever home.
Transport coordinators (volunteers) work with shelters and rescues to plan the routes and the number of animals to travel – this is something that HoundPilot specializes in. These coordinators work tirelessly throughout the week and through the nights prior to the transport to make sure all animals are vetted, have health certificates, have drivers for each leg and have the information for whoever is picking up the dog at the end of the transport.
Sometimes the transports take 2 days – when dealing with that, there is a tremendous need to have people willing to “overnight” animals which means you provide a safe haven, food, water and a bed for the night as well as a little exercise. This readies the animals for the next day’s transport. That is something that Laura and I have done on several occasions.
A transport will cover as little as a couple hundred miles to as much as 700-1000 miles, but most will be 400-500 miles. The transport is broken down into “legs” which are typically 50-75 miles. Then the transport is posted to groups of drivers in hopes someone will come forward to offer to drive one or more of the “legs”. This “Underground Railroad” then takes the animals the entire route from shelter to rescues.
When you meet the animals you know how important driving or overnighting a dog or cat is. The love you get for a few hours is precious and you know you have helped an animal doomed to death, on the next step of reaching “the good life.”
For people who can’t adopt a pet this is a perfect, low-cost/high-impact way to make a difference.