Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Animal 'rescue railroads' inspire author-producer

By Denise Flaim
© 2008, Newsday

Plenty of things are happening on the Internet that you are totally clueless about. Given the depths of some people's depravity, that's probably just as well.

But several years ago, film producer and author Bonnie Silva came across a bustling cyber-community that made her surprised, curious and, eventually, inspired.

"I read about animal-rescue transports in an article, and I thought, 'You mean complete strangers get together in cyberspace and sign up for "legs" to drive an animal an hour and pass it off to the next person until it finally makes it home?'" said Silva, whose two years of research culminated in a book, "Fifteen Legs: When All That Stands Between Death and Freedom Is a Ride" (Riverbank Press, $22.95), and a documentary that she is shopping around.

Anyone who rescues animals knows that geography plays a huge role in saving animals facing euthanasia at kill shelters. Certain parts of the country, such as the South, have an overabundance of adoptable animals. Other areas, such as the Northeast, where greater compliance with spay-neuter practices and leash laws means fewer strays and unwanted litters, have a better adoption "market."

If a dog -- or a cat, or a parrot, or a potbellied pig -- is in Atlanta, and an adoptive home awaits in Pittsburgh, the big challenge is getting it there as cheaply as possible.

And so, "rescue railroads" were born. Silva estimates there are 2,500 such groups, covering umpteen breeds and species. Transport coordinators for each group plot the route the animal must travel, break it up into segments of 60 or so miles, then post the itinerary to an e-mail group ( is a popular host) to solicit volunteers to sign up for each "leg" of the ride.

"I personally did a lot of crying -- you just can't help it," Silva said of her research for the book.

"But I also saw a lot of wonderful scenes of relief and hopefulness. There's really nothing more beautiful to see than two total strangers exchange an animal's leash and then hug one another as that animal goes off to its next stop."

Buy It:

You can read more about Bonnie and her book by visiting Big Media USA - >

No comments: