Saved by the Mile
I briefly addressed the importance of Transportation in "The World of Animal Rescue" (http://cat-r.hubpages.com/hub/The-World-of-Animal-Rescue), but I feel that I should elaborate on this subject! Countless animals were able to escape Death by Euthanasia through the simple gift of Transportation. But it requires a well oiled machine of volunteers and vehicles and a well-planned process to be able to make it happen!
We often proudly see the land-mass of the United States, but for a dog/cat in Florida that landed in a overpopulated Animal Control Shelter and found no interest in those looking at hundreds of dogs/cats this cheer size is heartbreaking. Especially if it is a dog or cat that falls into the category: "Undesired & Unwanted".
This category includes too often black and brindle dogs, black and tabby cats, old dogs/cats, shy or 'too' energetic animals, animals with physical and mental scars they can't hide, disabled animals or those with medical issues that need addressed, those that God just didn't make cute and pretty; their beautiful soul and character hidden underneath superficial priorities.
But while some dogs & cats may not catch one's interest in one area, they may in another!
The gift of Transport can overcome those obstacles! And if it can be made affordable, it may 'speed up the process'!
The fluffy Bulldog body with Australian Shepherd fur, huge under-bite, a couple of extra or bad teeth, Heartworm positive, too quiet to be noticed, untrained and a stray all his life, no concept of life in a home and with a family, may suddenly see the light at the end of the bleak tunnel from a cold cell to that horrible room where all life ends! A loving hand to pull him out, a caring individual to get his medical needs addressed... and suddenly a Angel carries him via car or plane to that one in a million home that sees beyond physical pleasantries deep down to a beautiful and unmatched soul; straight in the waiting arms of a little boy that loves this dog for the dog he is; unaware of adult superficiality!
Saved by a mile.... driven by a few caring people!
Organizing Transportation can range from a few simple phone calls and emails to managing everything from the 'Pull', medical work, planning the route, creating 'Legs', advertising and cross-posting the trip sheet, finding the drivers to fill it, researching both receiving rescues and volunteer drivers, organizing meeting points/times, scheduling deliveries; and if necessary follow-ups.
'Connections' is the most important part of organizing Transport. No matter how many parts of the whole "From the Shelter to the Home" process the Coordinator organizes, the quality of information received/provided and the volunteers conducting the parts of the process is vital. A unreliable volunteer or 'bad' information can destroy the animal's chance of making it out of the Shelter alive!
After verifying one's sources and volunteers and building a solid 'Army of Angels', regular and emergency routes need to be planned and build. Often enough a Transport comes short- or no-notice and has to be organized practically overnight. Being familiar with the medical requirements and other possible laws and regulations of one's selected 'area of expertise' will allow for faster organization of the basics. Somebody with a background as Crossposter or regular shelter volunteer may already have a good selection of 'Go-to' people in different areas. Making 'friends' with other Transporters and continuing one's own education in that area will allow for often desperately needed 'help'!
Planning the route is not as easy as planning one's trip to Grandma. It is a balance of selecting the shortest trip for both the animal(s) and the drivers (economically and time-wise) and finding enough/the right volunteers willing to cover the 'Legs'. Legs should be 'doable' and usually range around 1+ hour/60-90 mile trips. If multiple animals/different species are send, the drivers may have to be doubled up. Some Alternates should also be available.
Allowing sufficient time for the 'Leg' will include traffic, road work, 'potty' breaks and some lea-way for drivers running behind. Should an animal be transported over a longer distance/overnight, a overnight stay may have to be arranged.
Picking the right meeting stops will make it much easier for two possible strangers to 'find eachother' in 'foreign' territory. I have found it the easiest to use well-known/easy to find landmarks such as restaurants or gas stations, who's address can be found and entered into GPS. Not everybody received Military training that enables the soldier/Airman to find an unmarked spot in the middle of Nowhere with the help of compass and map! Most of us degenerated Trappers find it difficult enough to find our way around the tree WITH the help of a Global Positioning System!
The basic information required by the Transport Coordinator can range from simple
How many of these dogs/puppies can you carry?
Preferred Meet Locations, if any:
to more in depth
PLEASE PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING WITH YOUR OFFER
Day and Leg(s) you are offering to take:
How many dogs can you transport:
If you have not driven for me previously, please fill out completely:
Can you receive text messages?
Do you have email access after 5 pm and on weekends?
Emergency Contact phone #
License Plate #
Suggested meeting place at the beginning of your leg:
Suggested meeting place at the end of your leg:
The reason for the larger amount of information needed in example two is simply "Human Nature". Almost weekly there seems to be a horror story about a new DNA (Do not Adopt), DNR (Do not Rescue) or DNT (Do not Transport). These D's are, if researched correctly, legitimate cases of Animal Cruelty and/or -Neglect that were send out/posted to warn the true Rescuers from allowing these individuals to continue to cause harm. There is a too large amount of ...people that mistreat animals or let them suffer in other ways; to profit from their actions/lack of actions. Several shady Transporters have been brought to light and, if possible, charged. Animals have disappeared during Transports and, if they reappeared, were found in often horrible conditions.
It is of utmost importance that both the receiving rescues and the Transporters have an outstanding reputation and are not charged/may not be charged with anything that may endanger the life of the animal we all are trying to rescue! Sadly there is no unified series of laws across the U.S. that will prevent suspects or delinquents from simply crossing County- or State-Line and continue their 'dirty deed'!
General George Patton once was said to have stated that the World's most dangerous war was fought on paper. Every State in the U.S. has a different requirement concerning the required documentation for an animal to cross State-line or which animals are allowed to enter the State. A licensed veterinarian can provide both National and International Health Certificates. Other requirements may be that all shots are up-to-date and the dog Heartworm (Cat=Feline Leukemia/Feline Aids) negative. Some States have/had no reported cases of Heartworms, Parvo Virus, Distemper Virus or other diseases and will not respond kindly to a Transporter introducing such often deadly diseases. Both the 'sending' and 'receiving' end, including the driver(s) in the middle, need to be aware of those requirements and ensure their compliance! Good record keeping is essential!
Organizing Transportation is a learning experience. Working out the 'kinks' can take months or years of learning and gaining experience. But while often enough the Coordinatore does not even get the pleasure to meet those he/she saves, this can be a way of being active in rescue without having to spend a lot of money. Not everybody has the means to directly rescue. But what would we accomplish if we wouldn't have the crossposters and coordinators?!
Another valuable soldier in the 'Army of Angels' is the driver. This can be anybody from the paid professional to the one-time-only "I'm going that way anyway!"
Here are some tips on how to 'survive' your transport:
Make sure you know exactly what you are getting yourself into. If possible have a crate or some other form of restrained for the dog or just a crate for a cat. Know who and where you are meeting the 'delivery' and who and where you are delivering. Have names and phone numbers in case of emergencies. It is important to know what is expected and what to expect.
A experienced professional driver got bit during the transport of a large dog. The originating 'station' failed to mention that the dog was uncomfortable and nervous due to all the sudden 'life changes'. When taking the dog out for a potty break the dog felt overwhelmed and bit the driver in the hand. A vet could have possibly described a sedative to help calm the dog and the driver would have been able to act upon given information, if she would have been warned.
This dog turned out to be a total love bug, but having been torn from her home, thrown in a concrete and metal hell full of the smell of death and fear, and then handed from one stranger to another, enduring medical care and long hours in a crate she reacted defensive.
Accidents like this are not common, but they can be easily avoided if the transporter is aware of the dog's/cat's situation and can act appropriately.
Ensuring the condition of your car matches the expected 'wear' of the trip will help you prevent bad surprises like flat tires or water leaks. One should always inspect their vehicle prior to the trip. All 'fluids' should be at the appropriate level and the car in good working order. Allowing for some emergency funds, both 'plastic' and cash, will enable quick resolvance of most problems.
The Pilots for Paws
Considering the cost of fuel it is amazing to find kind-hearted people that are willing to transport animals in their private airplanes.
I have heard of many organizations that are providing transportation for rescued animals along planned or unplanned routes; free or for very reasonable prices.
This is especially important when an animal arrived severely injured at a Animal Control Shelter and the Shelter either can't or won't provide medical attention.
Despite fuel prices and the hard work to maintain their planes and fly long distances, these volunteers go above and beyond to help save one, two, or even more animals, one flown mile at the time!
While I am not an expert on what it will take to volunteer as a pilot for such an organization, I felt it necessary to mention them. Their hard work is extremely important to animal rescue and I feel the deepest respect to anybody that supports their cause or joins this Fleet of Angels.
Here are some organizations I found online. As a word of caution: I am not affiliated with any of these organizations and have no further information beyond what can be found online:
- Pilots N' Paws, http://pilotsnpaws.org/ (very well known)
- Flying Paws, http://www.flyingpaws.org/index.html
- Cloud Nine Rescue Flights, http://www.cloudninerescueflights.org/
- Canine Rescue Flights, http://www.caninerescueflights.org/
- Lucky Dog Rescue Flights, http://luckydogrescueflights.org/
and an organization that offers discounts for flying rescued animals:
- PetAirways, http://www.petairways.com/rescue
My respect and a heartfelt Thank You goes out to Joe Radford for giving uncountable gifts of life and happiness to so many animals.
Joe Radford was last seen on 11-Mar-2011 at Glendale, Arizona Municipal Airport, refueling the plane he had build himself. He was a Pilots N' Paws pilot who went missing during a rescue flight.
I have searched all over the net for updates, but as of what I found he is still missing!
I ask that you keep Joe and his family in your prayers and that hope that he, despite all bleak news, will come home safe and sound!