Love the lure of the open road? Love driving long distances in the dead of night? Love meeting new people in lovely destinations like Denny’s parking lots or I-5 truck stops? Love rescuing animals? Then transport may be just the thing for you!
If you follow the Dogwood Facebook page, you’ve seen many, many references to dogs (and some cats!) being rescued from Central Valley shelters or from homes where the owners are overwhelmed and can’t cope. But we’ll bet you didn’t how much effort, planning, coordination, and sheer hard work go into bringing these animals into Dogwood’s loving arms.
The need is huge, and as Dogwood becomes a bigger and bigger presence, there are more calls and Facebook requests for rescues: mamas and puppies, sick animals including dogs with mange (now becoming a Dogwood speciality), injured animals: the list goes on! Once the request is made, it becomes a matter of determining “do we have room?” and “are there foster homes available”? Then comes scheduling! This is a tough job and one that can easily take hours. Identifying who can handle the transport, or part of it, and when; if a transport that needs to be done in legs, who can do which leg, from where to where, and when. And then trying to fit all the pieces together into a seamless whole. Many, many phone calls, text messages, Facebook posts and instant message requests later and we have a plan. (Kudos here to people like Jennifer Colletto, among others, who work tirelessly just about every day to make these rescues happen, for Dogwood and other Northern California rescue groups. These tireless volunteers work through California Rescue, Facebook and other websites as well as using their own personal networks to facilitate our rescues).
Transporters then determine where (and when) the meeting point will be, most often a well-lit, very public place like Denny’s or a rest-stop. Armed with cellphone numbers for everyone driving the various legs, they load up with crates, blankets, leashes, collars, bowls and water, towels, potty pads, and cleaning materials, and off they go into the night! Although rescues can happen at any time, many occur in the evenings or late at night: some volunteers work a day job and can only help after work, some are emergencies. This transport work is made so much easier in the age of smart phones! Transporters stay in touch so everyone knows if the previous leg is on time or running late; they can keep on top of traffic conditions and give each other a “heads-up” when they are closing in on the meeting point. Once the meet-up occurs, everyone (drivers and passengers!) gets a potty break, and then it’s on to the next leg.
Meanwhile, “back at the ranch,” Shirley Zindler, Hannah Houston and other volunteers are setting up for the new arrivals so they can be checked, wormed, vaccinated, and settled for the night in soft, warm beds.
Does it always go smoothly? No! Are there always surprises? Yes! Sometimes the people we are meeting wonder if we could just take one more dog – if we can, we do. Sometimes the dogs are in much worse shape than we were led to believe or the owners become reluctant to surrender an animal you’ve driven miles to pick-up! Our transport volunteers roll with the punches, make lots of phone calls, and make it happen: quite literally, they are making life-saving decisions. Central Valley rescues are hard: the need is great, the conditions can be dire, and sometimes people can be difficult. But these heroes do it because they are saving lives. They go into warehouses after hours, with passwords and a flashlight trying to find a stowaway Mama and her kittens from China, they go into homeless encampments, they encounter difficult owners who’ve changed their minds…
And let’s not forget the transport volunteers on a local level who ferry animals back and forth to vet appointments! They all make a difference, one animal at a time…