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Animal rescue efforts extend far beyond the borders of our own communities. Over 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. shelters every year. Some are owner surrenders, and others were rescued from abusive situations or brought in as strays. They come in all ages, from the tiniest of puppies and kittens to sweet seniors needing a family to love them for however much time they have left. The flow of animals is constant, and even with adoption becoming a popular method of obtaining family pets, there are still 1.5 million animals euthanized in shelters every year — that’s over 5,000 animals each day.

With so many animals needing a place to go, rescue organizations often network with each other to help save as many lives as possible. You’ve probably heard about organizations making trips to other states after a natural disaster to help animals that were already sitting in shelters, but what you might not know is that for many, helping shelters in other states is something they do on a monthly or even weekly basis.

Working Together to Help Animals in Need

No shelter wants to euthanize animals for space, but the truth is, many don’t have a choice. Smaller shelters or those in areas with limited resources have a lot of factors weighing against them. When adoption rates are low, but animal intake numbers are high, they quickly run out of space, often resorting to lining hallways with cages so they can house as many animals as possible. Large numbers of animals living together also create the perfect environment for animals to get sick with diseases and illnesses that are typically preventable.

It’s a sad situation not only for the animals but for the dedicated workers who pour their heart and soul into caring for them. Some shelters have euthanasia rates as high as 95 percent, and even “no-kill” shelters that don’t euthanize for space can face struggles with overcrowding.  It’s under these dire circumstances that shelters begin to reach out for help, hoping that someone in another community can help save a few lives. When other organizations step up to help save animals in need and reduce the burden on overcrowded shelters, only one barrier remains: getting the animals to their new destination.

Going the Distance to Help Save Lives

For shelters or organizations that aren’t always able to transport animals themselves, there are volunteer animal transport programs. The teams of dedicated volunteers can consist of anywhere from a few to several dozen people, with some driving up to hundreds of miles to help bring animals from overcrowded shelters to places where they will have a better chance of finding adoptive homes.

There are different ways to organize volunteer animal transports, but they all share a common goal of saving lives.  Some transports involve a team of volunteers that drive one or more vans directly to the shelter to pick up the animals. On these trips volunteers often bring food and supplies to the shelters they’re visiting, and they sometimes stay for a few days to assist with animal care before making the trip back home.

Other transports utilize multiple volunteers, with each person driving a portion of the total distance to help bring rescued animals to the organizations that worked to save them. These coordinated rescue efforts involve people driving anywhere from 50-100 miles or more, with animals being transferred from one vehicle to the next until they reach their final destination. It can make for a long day, especially for the animals, but once they arrive, they’re welcomed into the loving arms of foster families and shelter workers who are ready to help them find their forever homes.

These transports play an essential role in giving animals a second chance. Without the dedication of volunteers who are willing to go the distance to help animals in need, rescue organizations wouldn’t be able to save nearly as many lives.

Getting Involved in Volunteer Transports

How Volunteer Animal Transports Are Working to Save Multiple Lives

Source: Arianna Pittman

Being involved in animal rescue and transport is an incredibly rewarding experience. You get to meet other people dedicated to helping animals and can feel good knowing that you are part of a mission to give homeless pets the chance to find a home where they’ll be loved forever.

To get started, reach out to foster-based rescue organizations or shelters in your area to see if they ever need help with drivers. They’ll either coordinate with you directly or refer you to a local group that helps coordinate animal transports. Whether you’re driving one dog or helping transport a hundred dogs to a rescue organization, you’re saving lives and giving animals a second chance.

If you can’t volunteer to drive, you can still help by sharing the adoption profiles of animals looking for a home, or by volunteering or donating to your local shelter.

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