transporting rescue dogs

Transporting Rescue Dogs

Ever wonder what happens with the dogs saved by rescue groups? Transporting rescue dogs gives many a better chance of adoption or foster in a new state. Almost every weekend, hundreds of rescuers move these precious souls miles in 1-2 hour bits of travel. It’s an incredible network, and a feat of organization and determination, and sheer love for the dogs.

Last Saturday, I rode on a dog transport with Judy, picking up 10 dogs in Merrillville, Indiana and driving them to Itasca, Illinois. This was just one leg of their 8-9 hour journey from Indianapolis to Minneapolis.

I arrived at Judy’s just after 7 a.m. as she was configuring the van with her crates and cages. Like a Tetris puzzle, she arranged the crates to maximize the space and to make sure there would be enough separation for the parvo survivors we would soon meet. There was a smell of fresh laundry–bleach maybe–from the clean padding, beds, and towels lining the cages. Some towels were strategically placed on top of the cages under the air vents, so no dog would get blasted with the AC. Behind the driver’s seat was a bag of slip-leads and collars, some towels, baggies, water dishes and water.

We had a list of the passengers to expect…

  • 1. Shelby – Poodle-x, 9y F(S), 30 lb.
  • 2. Goofy – Pomeranian, M(N), 5 lb.
  • 3. Maltese – F, 8 lb.
  • 4. Juno – Terrier, F(S), 30 lb.
  • 5. BeaglePup – 10 weeks
  • 6. Lil Bit & Skittles – APBT puppies, 8 lbs. each
  • 7. Frenchie – 10 weeks
  • 8. Dexter – 4 months
  • 9. Puppy – 8 weeks. WILL TRAVEL IN OWN CRATE

The list also told us the that these dogs were traveling with health certificates, collars and that all were up-to-date on shots. There was an updated e:mail with more specifics on the meeting places for each of the 7 legs of the journey and who would be receiving the dogs upon arrival in Minneapolis. We pulled out of Judy’s driveway around 7:20 a.m. with the crates, the list and the sunshine, headed to meeting place #1 in Merrillville, Indiana.

We arrived a little early to the parking lot where we’d make the transfer from one car to another. A text let us know that Tara and Gwen were 10 minutes away, coming in 2 cars from Indianapolis. While we waited, Judy reminded me to be careful not to touch another dog after touching a parvo-survivor puppy. The parvo-surviving pups would also have to take their potty breaks in a different place.

And then, they arrived! Two cars pulled up, on either side of Judy’s van. Introductions, hugs and brief chatter as we jumped out to make ready for the transfer. I think I laughed and cried at the same time as Gwen’s hatchback opened to reveal a carload full of dogs looking back at me. The next 30 minutes was a whirlwind…get the dogs out, walked, watered and then situated in Judy’s crates and car.

Puppies!  These pooches have just completed the first leg of their 8 hour journey.  Lil Bit and Skittles (on the left) have survived parvo.
Puppies! These pooches have just completed the first leg of their 8 hour journey. Lil Bit and Skittles (on the left) have survived parvo.
The belongings of a Pomeranian named Goofy.  Goofy's  person passed away 2 days prior.  Life shattering change, maybe eased by traveling with familiar things.
The belongings of a Pomeranian named Goofy. Goofy’s person passed away 2 days prior. Life shattering change, hopefully eased a little by traveling with familiar things.
Switching crates/cages and cars.  Everybody gets a walk and some water.
Switching crates/cages and cars. Everybody gets a walk and some water.
Handsome :)   All dogs have a tag with their info.  Calling them by name earns you a tail wag and if you're lucky a little kiss.
Handsome :) All dogs have a tag with their info. Calling them by name earns you a tail wag and if you’re lucky a little kiss.
Shelby/Peaches and Frenchie getting situated in the next car.  Waiting for the other dogs to finish their walks.
Shelby/Peaches and Frenchie getting situated in the next car. Waiting for the other dogs to finish their walks.
Patience.  Last one to be unloaded.
Patience. Last one to be unloaded.
Jema is a parvo survivor.  I got the honor of riding shotgun with this puppy in my lap...but Judy gets a hug first.
Jema is a parvo survivor. I got the honor of riding shotgun with this puppy in my lap…but Judy gets a hug first.

After all the walks, after all the crate moves, Judy and I got back in the car with our passengers. Lucky, lucky me–I got to ride with Jema in my lap! This little girl was recently spayed, and a parvo-survivor. She tried so hard not to sleep…she wagged her tail and smiled at Judy, at me, at the dogs in the back, at the scenery out the window and for a few minutes chewed on my hair. And those of you who know me, know that I was in heaven holding this little happy and curious girl with her sweet puppy smell. Everyone settled in. Some stared out the window–and I wondered what they were thinking, their lives so changed. Some slept peacefully, despite the one who cried and voiced her opinion about a few things.

On the road.  Some are too excited to sleep and stare out the window.
On the road. Some are too excited to sleep and stare out the window.

We arrived in Itasca to meet the next 2 cars who would take these babies on to Rockford, Illinois. Once again, walks, water and a transfer of crates and cars.

Stop #2.  Getting situated in another crate, another car for the 3rd leg of the journey.
Stop #2. Getting situated in another crate, another car for the 3rd leg of the journey.
Judy puts Goofy into Nancy's car.  Shelby/Peaches will be riding shotgun on this leg of the trip.
Judy puts Goofy into Nancy’s car. Shelby/Peaches will be riding shotgun on this leg of the trip.

It was only in the last few minutes that I realized how bittersweet transporting days were, as we petted and hugged these lucky dogs one last time. Saying our goodbyes, and wishing them safety on today’s journey and much love and happiness for the rest of their lives.

Transporting rescue dogs, from August 3, 2013.

Want to know more? Check out these websites for dog transports–and donate, volunteer, foster or adopt–anything and everything helps:

http://www.everydogcountsrescue.us/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Liberty-Train-and-Rescue/161898060592344

By the way, I had planned to write a little more about Avery, the beautiful pup who had 17 broken bones. Shortly after I met her, she had her last two casts removed. I plan to see her again soon and get some additional photographs and details. So, more to come. Thanks for your patience!

 

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