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Animal transport: a little known aspect of animal rescue

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Ever heard of animal transports? Not many people have. It’s a quiet little sector of animal rescue known well only amongst rescues and shelters. The public at large remains generally unaware of what it is, how it works, or why.

So what is animal transport and how does it work?

In theory, it's pretty simple really. Contact is made between rescues and shelters, sometimes spanning a vast distance, and animals are transported from point A to point B where they may have a better chance of adoption.

Most northern states in the US have more strict spay and neuter laws which leads to fewer homeless pets and sometimes a shortage of adoptable animals. Animals from central and southern states are transported up north where there are families ready and willing to give them new homes.

It takes several transporters to make a single trip with a group dogs or cats, pulled from one shelter or many. Sometimes more dogs or cats are picked up along the way from various shelters or rescues.

Transporters take “legs” of each trip, normally ranging in travel times of 2 hours but sometimes more. Each transporter meets the next at specified locations set up prior to each run. It all goes down like a relay race as one transporter hands off their precious cargo to another.

Not all rescues use transports, but for those who do, they see a faster turn-around in the pets they house waiting for adoptions to happen. And for every spot they open up with transport to other areas, there is new space available in their shelter or rescue to save more animals.

The legalities of moving animals from state to state are a touchy business and only a handful of transport groups have been able to conduct such activities while remaining in the confines of the law. For this reason it is only a select few who conduct such transports.

As simple as it may sound, animal transport is a detailed and time consuming process.

Rescue organizations must be found to place each animal pulled from shelters and rescues. Then, animals are chosen from high risk groups, high kill shelters, or other type emergency situations. Next, each animal marked for transport must see a veterinarian and receive vaccinates and a health certificate in order to legally travel.

Once all of these steps have been taken the travel route is planned and broken into “legs”. Those legs are then announced, through emails and social networking, to transporters who step up to claim a “leg” of the trip.

Animals are then gathered and transported from one location to the next, each transporter making their portion of the journey, until the animals have reached their destination.

Watch for upcoming articles on how to become an animal transporter and interviews with some of the folks who have been in the business for awhile.

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