Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Transport Volunteers Make the Difference Between Life and Death

Photo of me saying goodbye to German Shepherd mix.

I was so pleased to see this wonderful story on the front page of the September 14, 2008 edition of The Mansfield News Journal. I was even more surprised to see my picture along with the story!

Click HERE to read the article.

I helped drive transport on Saturday, September 14th, moving 36 dogs from as far away as Georgia. This was a two-part transport involving lots of volunteers. These beautiful animals were all rescued from death row, some right here in Ohio. Some were pure breed dogs, others just mutts, but all 36 were successfully transported to rescues in Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan and Canada.

Part A and Part B of this transport separated in Columbus. Some went on to Pennsylvania and New York, and the others to Michigan and Canada. Some were even added on. My leg was to drive 2 Pyrenees to Mansfield, OH, along with three other drivers to hand off our passengers so they could continue on to the next leg of their north bound journey.

When we arrived, we were greeted by a newspaper reporter who was covering the story, and a crowd of supporters. What an awesome WELCOME we received and the publicity was greatly appreciated by ALL volunteer drivers.

It’s hard to explain what all goes into making a “rescue” successful. There are many, many volunteers involved. The people on the “pull end" -- the ones responsible for getting these dogs out of a kill shelter. The ones who spend hours and hours making phone calls or cross-posting to other rescues across the nation and Canada to see who has space available. Our wonderful “sponsors” who donate pull fees and the money for vetting these animals.

All animals crossing state lines MUST have all vaccinations up-to-date and health certificates with them when they travel. This is MANDATORY, not an option. Once that is completed, the next task is to get these animals where they’re going, thus .... the “transporter”. These people volunteer their time, their vehicles, and their gasoline to make over hundred mile runs getting these babies to the next leg of their final destination -- safety and the chance for a new life -- and they do it 52 weeks out of every year.

The transport coordinator's job must be a nightmare. They are the ones responsible for filling these legs with drivers, keeping track of everyone on the road, making sure everyone is on time to meet the next leg, having back-up drivers in case some one breaks down or can’t make it. Making run sheets that are sometimes 20 to 30 pages long. Tagging all animals so that they can be identified by the drivers so that health certificates do not get confused. That could cause a major disaster should a transporter get stopped by Highway Patrol or at the Canadian border.

The coordinator tracks all drivers' names, their car makes, models, color, year of vehicle, license plate number, and cell phone numbers so that every one can stay in contact. The coordinator MUST man the phone at all times when these transports are moving in case there is a problem. These people are also volunteers.

The next phase is the receiving rescue or No Kill Shelter which also relies upon volunteers to either provide foster homes or to come in and care for these animals daily until they are adopted. In the meantime, these rescues are still bombarded with local animals as well.

Hopefully, the newspaper story will enlighten more people as to what these dedicated volunteers do 365 days a year in order to save as many lives as possible. It doesn’t really matter which end of rescue you’re on -- all are important and are being carried out by volunteers who receive no compensation for their time and dedication to these homeless animals.

So, the next time you’re out for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon drive, and you come across a convoy of vans, cars, and station wagons, moving down the interstate, with several animals on board -- blow your horn, smile and wave, give them a big “thumbs up”.... and please say a silent prayer for their safe journey.

Jo Ann & “gang”

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