Transport Tales

Did you know that NGPR organizes over 400 transports every year?  When dogs need to be moved from shelters to fosters or from fosters to adopters, NGPR gets it done with a combination of paid and volunteer transport. We started doing transport from day one as this picture (right) from 2007 shows.

Most transports require us to move dogs hundreds of miles across multiple states. Paid transporters move many dogs in a single trip from multiple rescues and private parties — like a dog Megabus. Paid transports are only available for about half of the routes, so the other half are handled by our own volunteer drivers, who relay dogs from where they are to where they’re going. Sometimes our volunteer transporters meet the paid transports to shuttle dogs closer to fosters or adopters.

Most of our dogs originate from the Southern states where these dogs are urgently rescued from high-kill shelters, then taken to adopters and fosters in the East. In 2020, 130 dogs were transported from Tennessee, 47 from Kentucky, 19 from Mississippi and Louisiana, 12 from Virginia,11 from Ohio, and 10 from Georgia.

Ron Ritter and Gillian Clark are our in-house transportation managers responsible for organizing the volunteer drivers. Ron’s been in this role for 4 years, and Gillian joined the team 2 years ago in August 2019.

When a dog needs to be moved to a foster or adopter, the adoption coordinator completes a transport form; 182 were completed in 2020. When we need a volunteer transport, Ron and Gillian review the form and find potential drivers using a map created by Cindy Moon that shows all the volunteers, fosters, and adopters along the route. They use text, email, and phone calls to identify who’s available for the desired dates of the transport. Next they piece together a “run sheet” that identifies the who, where, and when of the transport. Depending upon holidays, weather, and the route it can take anywhere from a day to over a week to organize a volunteer transport.

2020 was an extremely busy and challenging year for volunteer transport. With the pandemic there were more adopters, as well as more dogs coming into shelters needing rescue. Last year, Ron and Gillian organized 47 volunteer transports for 10 puppies and 42 adult dogs. These involved 148 segments covered by 132 different volunteer drivers, covering 20,500 miles across 20 different states, taking 329 hours to complete. On one busy day in October there were three transports: one from Columbus, OH to Buffalo; a second moving two dogs from Lebanon, TN to two different adopters in Michigan; and a third from Georgia to Illinois.

The longest transport in 2020 took over three days to complete, with puppies Odin and Hercules moving 1600 miles across eight states, staying with volunteers on the route for Friday and Saturday nights. One volunteer couple drove most of this trip – driving 18.5 hours over 1190 miles!

The longest day in 2020 started at 5:00 AM in Beavercreek, OH, and ended around 6:30 PM in North Hampton, NH.

One of the most memorable transports was in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic. Six-year-old Charlie needed to travel from Tennessee to his adopters in Florida. One volunteer drove a six-hour roundtrip on a weeknight to deliver Charlie from Tennessee to Birmingham, AL, where Charlie stayed until Saturday. That same volunteer drove another 12-hour roundtrip to pick up Charlie to resume his trip to his adopter in Florida.

Another memorable 2020 transport had one volunteer transporting four puppies to her house, where three of them were then picked-up by their adopters.

We couldn't make adopters’ dreams come true without the help of our volunteer transporters, who take early morning starts and last-minute changes in stride — like finding out about an extra dog at the last minute. Over 80% of volunteer transports are for adult dogs and can be hard work, but our volunteers tell us it is very rewarding. We really appreciate the volunteers, especially our repeat and long-distance drivers who we count on to close gaps in our routes.

If you would like to help with transport, please fill out our transport volunteer form here. NGPR organizes transports east of the Mississippi but if you can help in another state, we will forward your form to the closest rescue on our list.