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Saving Animals: One Ride At A Time

It’s a Sunday morning, and we are waiting for the passengers for our ride to Kansas City. There are 23 passengers to be exact. All kittens from five litters that need a ride to Unleashed Pet Rescue in Mission, Kansas.

I volunteer as a transporter, which means that I help get dogs, cats, or other animals from shelters where they might be euthanized to rescues, fosters, or adopters.

A Day in the Life of a Transporter

A Day in the Life of a Transpo

A typical scenario goes like this:

A volunteer goes through a kill shelter and finds animals that are going to be euthanized. They gather as much information as they can about the animal and put the information out with a picture of the animal on Facebook. The post is shared to as many rescues as possible, hoping that a rescue, foster, or adopter can be found before the animal’s time at the shelter is up. If a rescue can take the animal, it is tagged for that rescue.

Then comes the complicated part.

The animal may be in Texas, while the rescue that can take it is in Colorado. Since rescues rely on donations and adoption fees to continue their work, they usually don’t have the money to send someone to get the animal.

That’s where transporters, like me, come in.

The first step is to get the information to a run coordinator. The coordinator figures out the mileage between the shelter and the rescue, the easiest route, and breaks down the run into manageable “legs” with a drive time of an hour to an hour and a half. Then another post goes out to Facebook groups like Wichita KS Area Transporters to ask for help.

Depending on the distance, you may have anywhere from 1 to 10 drivers that are needed. As people fill the “legs”, they coordinate with the drivers before and after them on pick up and drop off spots. These coordinators and drivers are all people doing this on a completely volunteer basis.

As for the kittens my daughters and I transported, they were lucky enough to get fully vetted to make sure they are healthy, and they also got spayed or neutered. Hopefully, they will soon find new forever homes. Disclaimer: in the picture, the kitties aren’t in their crate because we stopped to give them water. They were definitely in crates during the transport!

Why We Transport

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Brian Van Auken and a rescue.

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Amy Miranda's pit bull rescue.

I asked some of my fellow volunteers why they transport. Brian Van Auken, who has been transporting dogs for about three years said:

“I transport primarily for Big Dog Huge Paws, which is a rescue for giant breeds. Most of our dogs come from Oklahoma City and head anywhere from Nebraska, Wyoming or Colorado. One of my first transports was a puppy who went to Montana, and his forever dad was actually from my town, and this pup had a beautiful home. It’s so rewarding. Being in rescue, I see the worst of the worst, so when I see where they end up, my heart is full.”

Amy Miranda sent me pictures of a sweet pit bull from a transport in 2016. She said:

"Starved, abused and seized by the Sherriff. The vet murdered his two brothers. That's the past, not looking back."

The dog spent the night at her house and she was off to another rescue the next day. Luckily, this sweet boy was quickly adopted by a vet tech from K-State.

Getting Involved

If transporting is something that you would be interested in, there are several groups on Facebook. I belong to the following groups, but there are many more!

Coordinators will post their “runs” with the day and the times of each of the legs in the group, and whoever can help simply comments on the post with what leg they can fill. The important things about volunteering for a run are:

  1. If you volunteer, be prepared to honor that commitment.
  2. Follow the guidelines of the rescue for securing and transporting the animal, which will often include rules like having a collar and a harness on a dog with a leash on both, because rescue dogs have been known to bolt or try to bolt on transports because they get excited, scared, or confused by all the new activity.


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead

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