If you've seen our Facebook page, you know that we've been really busy with transports recently. Transports are how we move dogs from the pound to their rescues, which are usually in the northeast. We've had some passengers go to Ohio and Canada, too.
Transports are exciting, and we love to see abandoned dogs and cats on their way to healthy, safe, loving futures, but every passenger represents a lot of work. We have a previous blog entry
about transport from the driver's perspective, but transport takes a whole slew of people to pull off. How it happens:
Rescues identify animals that they are interested in, either from our Petfinder site or emails that they receive from us. This leads to a series of emails or phone calls to find out more about the animal's characteristics. Once a rescue commits to an animal, a Powell County volunteer pulls it from the pound. Then, the foster provides the animal with a temporary home and arranges for whatever vetting the rescue requires. Often, the foster must deal with malnutrition, parasites, or skin conditions. Then, within 10 days of transport, the fosters must take their animals to the vet for health certificates. Health certificates are required by law for animals to cross state lines for rescue.
In the meantime, our rescue coordinator works with the rescue to determine how to transport the pet several states away. There are some options. One is paid transport. There are some transport coordinators who take a large van (or fancy truck, in the case of Bowling Green Warren County Humane Society) on set routes. Rescues pay a crate fee for the animals' fare. Another way is leg-to-leg volunteer transports. A coordinator determines where the animals need to go and sends out emails asking for drivers to do 1-2 hour drives between locations. The volunteer drivers do a relay from city to city until their passengers reach their rescues. This, incidentally, is how our Lobo
made it all the way to Canada. A third option is that we rent a cargo van and send it to a distant meeting place where our passengers then ride on a leg-to-leg volunteer transport. That is what we did today.
Preparation for sending a cargo van is time-intensive. The van must be picked up in Lexington and driven to Powell County. There, it must be loaded with crates, which must first be assembled. There are lists of passengers and weights in order to make sure the right sizes and numbers of crates go in the van. If other shelters send hitchers, many emails are exchanged to coordinate meeting places, times, and driver information.
Sending our own cargo van is difficult. It is costly (van rental plus gas). It is often difficult to find a driver, too. The meeting place is 7.5 hours from Powell County, which often means the driver is doing a 15-hour road trip. Departure from Powell County is in the wee hours of the night. Today, the van left at 3:30 in the morning! All the fosters bring their animals (and all their paperwork showing vetting and health certificates) to a meeting place. Our fosters are wonderful -- they show up when most of us are sleeping with smiles and tears. They are happy to see the van full of promise leave, but they will miss their temporary family members. However, we all know that this is the Big Day for our passengers going to their new lives.
The drivers travel with the van full of animals for hours. They might have to stop along the way to clean up messes. That is why they travel with a kit full of cleaning supplies and fresh towels for the crates. They arrive at destination and must transfer each passenger to its next driver. All the drivers have spreadsheets to consult to help them make their connections, and they all know the procedures to follow to keep all the passengers safe. Then, our drivers turn around for a quiet drive home in a van filled with empty crates.
When the drivers return, there is still work to be done. Crates must be broken down, cleaned, and put back into storage. Returning the van has to be coordinated. Does it sound like we are complaining? We aren't! We're very grateful for the volunteers and resources that we have that enable us to transport. We appreciate our rescues and transport coordinators who we work with more than we know how to express to them. We want to recognize everyone whose hard work makes transports possible. Rescues, fosters, drivers, transport coordinators -- thank you all! We're ready to start working on the next ones!
UPDATE! Picture of some of today's passengers with their northeast fosters: