For animal shelters and rescue groups in small communities; at least for those that adhere to the 'no-kill' philosophy, it is common to transport some of their animals to partner shelters in larger cities. For some very isolated shelters, this is almost their only way to place their charges in loving homes.
A Transport Story
Below is a story written about a typical transport trip to the westside told by our volunteers who make these trips.
While this is something we dream of – long lines of people stretching down the block just waiting to adopt our beloved cats and dogs – this is not something that we are ever likely to experience in our remote corner of Washington.
Our shelter is humble, rustic, and small. The surrounding community is also small. Our county produces many more kittens, puppies, cats and dogs than it could ever hope to care for. Programs are in place to help combat this; feral TNR programs, low-cost spay and neuter clinics, public education, but still we are overwhelmed with unwanted pets.
So what do you do when the people will not come to you?
You go to the people.
This is a story about two very special volunteers who give their all to save hundreds of lives each year.
Meet Lorraine and Pam…
...these two women are my heroes. Several times a year, they load up an SUV with as many cats and dogs as they can fit and drive them to our partner shelters where they have a much higher chance of being adopted. The trip is long and exhausting and just imagine being in a car for upwards of 10 hours with 15 to 20 cats and dogs all voicing their opinion at the same time!
Lorraine and Pam kindly photographed their most recent trip to give us a taste of what they do. So without further ado, here is their story.
A bit of background and what runs through our minds…
The day before a transport, Lorraine and I, get the transport carriers and paperwork all ready. Sometimes, just firming up which kitties are going, and to whom they are going to, can take 10 or more phone calls and emails to organise. I usually do the paperwork and Lorraine gets the oil changed and her Trailblazer ready to roll. She also gets us snacks because we pull over to gas and use the restroom, but not to eat. We are on too tight of a schedule.
On the day of the transport we get up extra early to get out to the kennels to load up the kitties ourselves – then we head for Seattle stopping at up to 4 places to deliver kitties along the way. We used to try to do this and come home all in one day. Sometimes we would get up at 3:00 in the morning and fall into bed at 1:00 the next morning. TOO LONG!
Now we spend the night but it is still an extremely long day! The next day we drive home, stop at the shelter to clean out the very dirty carriers and go home and collapse. I know it seems silly, but we are usually emotionally and physically exhausted for a couple of days after.
During the 7 hour drive we worry – are the kitties too hot, too cold, too crowded, thirsty, vomiting, having diarrhea that will require a bath when we arrive, too scared – we love them all and it is hard! Was that a sneeze we heard? Is someone coming down with an upper respiratory infection? It is stressful and we’re wiped out by the end of the day.
Ok, now that you’ve got a bit of background, on to our adventure!
We get to the shelter about 6:15 in the morning with a target time of 8:00 to leave. We try to feed the kitties before we load them up. It’s a long drive for them. Some won’t get out of their kennels until 6:00pm. That’s 10 hours!
We label each kennel with the name of its occupant and its destination and add a towel and a litter box for their comfort. Then we load up 17 kitties and 3 dogs! We’ll be making a stop at Sprague to pick up 4 more kitties from another rescuer, Sylvia Fox. We were able to find more spots for kitties at NOAH than we were able to fill so we asked Sylvia if she would like to send a few of her rescues. Sylvia is incredible and runs a one woman rescue of cats, dogs and horses. She just took in a blind horse. We rescuers have to be there for each other!
Except for four sick kittens, all the kitties are already spayed/neutered. We are not reimbursed for this expense but are grateful that these animals will move quickly to a new home. That would not happen at our shelter. Our county produces way more animals than there are homes for.
Thank goodness for freeways, SUV’s and great traveling companions…including all the dogs and cats! Lorraine is the main driver for our transports. I usually handle the map-quest directions! It’s about a 6 hour drive to our first stop. We’ve made this trip almost two dozen times now.
Little Hughie was trapped only two days ago and came back from the vet just this morning. Considering this 4-month-old has never been handled by a human, he is surprisingly docile and we decide to include him in the transport. I spend some “lap time” with him on the drive. He is so sweet.
Knit one, pearl two. No, it is not a doggie sweater! How many hats have I knitted on these transports? This one is for Nancy Rose, our kennel manager.
We arrive at Homeward Pet a little after 2:00 and they roll out the welcome mat……well, roll up their doors for us to bring in our rescues including 4 sick kittens rescued from certain death.
Laurel, the cat adoption coordinator at Homeward Pet, with Pam as she says good-by to sweet “Edge” kitty. Following is the email sent to Homeward Pet from the people who adopted Edge. What a wonderful home he got!!!!
“Dear Homeward Pets Special People….
The next time we peeked in, he was curled up and asleep in the wash basin. About half an hour later, the door opens and out peeks this sweet face. We haven’t been able to stop the “discovery” process ever since. And to top it off, he slept between us until early morning. What a boy!
Our thanks and gratitude!”
How we wish we could have a facility like NOAH! Isn’t it beautiful! They had a generous benefactor to get them going. Maybe some day it will happen for us as well.
Noah is just great! They always have clean kennels and food waiting for the new arrivals. They are a life-saver for a lot of other rescuers too. They adopt out approximately 6000 animals a year!
Last on our stop is the Next to Nature pet food store in Edmonds. They also house the Genevieve G. Animal Advocacy rescue group. I found this rescue group one sunny day when my kids took me to Edmonds for lunch. What a wonderful discovery it was! They have such heart! Their big yellow sign above their door says it all – WE CARE!.
Pam and Emily, a NTN employee and GGAA member, settle the new arrivals in. Emily is the greatest. When she agrees to take our shy kitties, we give a huge sigh of relief because we know that GGAA will take all the time these kitties need. They even do an inspection of every potential home. Once they accept a kitty they commit to it for life. If an adoption ever fails, they take the kitty back!
We are exhausted at 9:00 when we arrive at the Best Western near the Alderwood Mall. We ask for a room with two queen beds. We tell them we have stayed at their facility many times on our animal transport trips and they roll out the red carpet for us! They upgrade our room to a suite with two rooms, each with a king size bed and bathroom! They love animals too and love the lengths our group goes to, to help them.
Lorraine and I cleaning out and rearranging crates for the fourth time in two days in preparation for the drive home. We wonder how we got them all in there in the first place! We did get some donated food and toys at Homeward Pet and made a quick stop at Trader Joe’s for some goodies!
Rearranging – again!: We give it one more try to get them all in.
Now just 7 more hours till I am home. I live about 45 minutes farther than Lorraine. We always say we’re going to do something fun after we drop all the kitties off, but we’re just toooo tired -emotionally and physically.
But it’s all so very worth it…
Without the opportunity to transport some of our animals to larger partner shelters, I just shudder to think, how many of our animals would never find homes. We are so grateful to them all!
We would also like to thank some of our other volunteers and friends who have helped when they were able. Jennifer Mott, Jill Carleton, Rex, Bill, Don T., and Don J.—-all have given of their vehicles, time, and compassion to help transport rescue animals for CVAS!
Transporting animals is hugely important for our shelter. We are always in need of volunteers to help with transporting. Currently it is just Lorraine and Pam, they are in desperate need of help. If you find yourself taking a trip to Seattle or even to Spokane, we would be grateful if you could take even just one or two critters with you and drop them at one of our partner shelters. You could take a trip AND save lives at the same time!