By Jim Tedford, Director of Animal Welfare Initiatives and Alliances
The atmosphere is electric with the anticipation of 30+ volunteers, half of whom are PetSafe associates, waiting to see who will be on the next truck coming in from New Orleans! Most of us have been here before and we know that the truck will be filled with potential best friends. But, will they have curly hair or wiry hair or short hair or long hair? Will they be tiny or massive? Will they be old or young?
The answer to ALL of these questions is a simple “yes”! The truck will carry between 50 and 60 dogs and puppies headed from Louisiana to bright futures of new homes in New Jersey. Thanks to a partnership between the Louisiana SPCA and St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in New Jersey, lives are being saved each and every month. The dogs come in all shapes and sizes, mutts and purebred. They all have one thing in common – they need new homes!
AnimalWorks, an East Tennessee, not-for-profit spay and neuter clinic serves as a “way-station” for animals making this long trek. Tennessee is close to the mid-way point in the trip and by the time the transport vehicle loaded with its precious cargo arrives at AnimalWorks, these dogs (and their human escorts) have already been on the road for 10 hours or longer.
At the “way-station” volunteers remove the dogs from their transport cages and let them stretch their legs and use the fire hydrant. They go for nice, long walks giving
them a much-needed break. Next, they visit with our medical team made up of veterinarians and students from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. They are checked over to make sure they remain healthy, stress-free and ready to complete the life-saving ride to New Jersey. They are fed and offered water while the cleaning crew makes sure their travel accommodations are spic and span. And, most importantly, they are given a healthy dose of love.
It’s really a matter of supply and demand. There are too many unwanted dogs and puppies in some regions of the country while other areas have a level of demand that exceeds the supply. Enter the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and its national Relocation Initiative. The ASPCA recognizes that the only thing standing between life and death for thousands of dogs is A RIDE! For that reason, the national leader in animal protection has begun connecting partner shelters and helping them kick-start life-saving transports.
Transports are happening all over the country, and they’re happening almost every day. Many local animal shelters and animal rescue groups are partnering with one another to move dogs from areas of high supply and low demand to areas where they are desperately wanted. Quite literally, these dogs are being taken on the ride of their lives! Those organizations managing transports wisely and humanely are following guidelines established by the National Federation of Humane Societies and the Association of Shelter Veterinarians. A ride is a good thing, but only if it’s done right and the best interests of the animals involved, which is always a primary consideration.
At PetSafe, we are proud to play a role in this work. Since April, we’ve cared for nearly 200 dogs on their way to new homes in the Northeast. We’ve been extremely cold and we’ve been extremely warm, but all that seems to go away when we watch those tail lights head down the road. Helping people forge bonds with their pets and then preserving those bonds is what we’re all about. And, it sure feels great!
Jim Tedford serves as PetSafe’s Director of Animal Welfare Initiatives and Alliances. Working on the front line of animal welfare for over 20 years, Jim has served as CEO for organizations in New York, Louisiana and Tennessee. Prior to joining PetSafe, Jim provided marketing and fundraising services to animal welfare organizations nationwide. Jim holds a degree in animal science from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Jim and his wife Ann share their “empty nest” in the Smoky Mountains with adopted dogs Bodie, Sam, and Lila and a formerly homeless macaw, Gipper.