Best Practices: Transporting Animals

Today’s post is written by Shereen Raucci of Mile High Weimaraner Rescue. It covers transportation of rescued animals. We look forward to your comments below.

Shereen’s Take:

Transporting Animals

Since most rescue groups cover more than one state, taking in dogs from sometimes 1,000 miles away, transport is a vital part of the groups success. With rising gas costs, it’s also imperative for a non-profit group to have a dependable, yet reasonable source of transportation, whether it’s local or long-distance.

Safe transport means more than just having a driver and a vehicle. The transporter has a very important role in bringing each animal to safety. This can mean providing heat and comfort during cold months or air-conditioning and fresh water during warm months. Does the transporter have means to separate the animals for their safety? It also takes a great deal of organizing successful transports, especially if multiple dogs are riding along. Smaller, local transports might be easier to organize but are none the less important.

For local or in-state rescue, many groups rely on local volunteers. Some groups even have an appointed Transport Coordinator and specific group who are on call to help with transports. Most are asked to use their own vehicle and in most cases, are not reimbursed for gas or other expenses(if transporting for a non-profit group check with your tax specialist to see if your expenses are tax-deductible).

Local transports may be meeting a larger incoming group, picking up from a shelter, or meeting with an owner surrender. They often deliver the incoming dog to their foster home or boarding facility. Since the driver doesn’t always know what to expect from the dog, they should be prepared and have a kennel or other means to secure the dog in their vehicle, fresh water, slip lead, muzzle, and maybe a handful of treats for good measure.

Long-distance transport is a whole world of its own and without these transporters, the number of dogs saved would be far less than they are today. Long-distance transports can be by private vehicle, van to hold multiple animals, even by train or plane! We’ve also used over-the-road truckers who let a dog or two ride along. When it comes to getting a dog safely to your rescue, you will find you get pretty creative when needed.

C.A.R.E. (Colorado Animal Rescue Express) is a non-profit animal transport group that is based in Denver, CO and twice a week makes runs to Kansas. There several other transporters from outlying areas meet. Each dog is walked and pottied, and given fresh water before loading into the C.A.R.E. van to go to their respective rescue group in Denver.

CARE works with over 110 rescue groups and each transport can move approximately 20 animals. CARE also rescues animals from Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, New Mexico and Nebraska. They also transport animals from rural Colorado shelters and their geographic focus is continually expanding to help animals in high kill shelters.

CARE relies on donations to cover the rental van, gas, and the purchase and maintenance of transport supplies. The average cost per animal is $29. Since they began on 6/27/07, they have done 476 transports, including 8,621 dogs and 557 cats. CARE volunteers have driven over 506,000 miles to save animals through March of 2011. Check them out at

I mention CARE in detail because I am most familiar with them. I’ve driven for them, I’ve had 2 of my own dogs transported by them, and I’ve helped at dozens of arrivals. We recently had two Weim’s arrive last week and one was too tall to ride in a crate so he got to be the co-pilot! But there are many groups just like CARE all across the country that are a vital part of this rescue world. I’ve listed a few below that I’m familiar with but if you don’t find what you’re looking for google transports and you’ll get pages of links. And don’t be afraid to talk to other area rescue groups and ask their suggestions.

All Paws Transport Service, LLC ( helps dogs in the south get to safety in the northeast and already works with several rescue groups, but is able to expand. If you’re in that area check out their very detailed website for rates and more.

Rescue Riders is a New England based group that has pick up and drop off locations in AL, TN, KY, OH, PA, NY, CT, VT and NH. (

In addition to road travel, there are also dozens of Air Transports, many non-profit who have professional pilots that donate their time to transport animals cross-country.

Check Muddy Puddle at This website lists several transport groups, schedules, requirements, etc.

If you ever have the opportunity to volunteer with a transport group, to drive a leg of a transport, don’t pass it up! It’s truly a rewarding experience and shows another side of rescue.


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2 Responses to Best Practices: Transporting Animals

  1. Heidi Eckers says:

    We’ve had some luck with Operation Roger ( utilizes volunteer OTR truck drivers. We also will use Pet Air ( when volunteer or paid auto transports don’t work out.

  2. Great info Shereen! I didn’t realize there were so many other resources for us rescue groups to use.

    One thing I wanted to add to this posting is a document we created to help our volunteers who help us with transporting. When we first started we had no idea what to expect or what to do when transporting pugs. So we feel that this helps our volunteers to be more successful and not as stressed about doing transports for us.

    Transport Guidelines
    Thank you for helping Pug Partners with this crucial step in the rescue process! Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions that are not answered below.
    Don’t sacrifice safety for convenience. Drive safely, obey traffic laws and make sure all passengers are crated or secured in the vehicle
    We highly recommend that you crate or contain pugs so that they are not loose in your vehicle.
    Pug Partners does have some crates, so if you need one please email either Jen Haines at jen.haines@pugparnters or
    Arrive early to the transport so that you can help walk, water and load the animals and leave on time.
    If possible please do not bring your children or other pets along for the transport. If you do bring your child, we recommend crating the pug.
    Keep a leash on the pug at all times. If the dog is collared please do NOT loosen the collar. If possible take a slip leash with you so that the pug cannot back out of it.
    Most of the pugs we work with come from Puppy mills and are extremely a FLIGHT RISK, meaning if you set them on the ground they will run away and not look back. Please do everything in your power to ensure the pug cannot escape or run away.
    Do not feed the pug. A small treat maybe ok, but remember that other transporters have probably done the same thing. Many puppy mill dogs will not take a treat from your hand anyway, so we recommend just leaving treats at home. If you feel like it is necessary to take something, we recommend sandwich meat. Also most of our pugs are spayed/neutered once they get to our vets office, if they are fed then this delays the process.
    Avoid giving the pugs chews or bones, as many of them don’t even know what they are and can end up hurting their teeth or even worse swallowing a big piece of a bone.  
    Light watering only because bathroom breaks are typically only between transports.
    Hand off paperwork first, then the pugs- this way their documentation will go where it needs to.
    Please disinfect any water bowls, blankets, or crates used on transport as a precaution for the next passengers you may have
    If transporting a pug to a new home, please ask for collars, leashes, and belly bands back so that we can recycle.
    Do not hug, kiss, or handle the pug, this will just create more stress for him/her (especially for Puppy Mill pugs). The less fuss and the calmer the whole process, the easier it will be for the pug to transition into a foster home
    Mentally prepare yourself for emergencies.
    If you are one of the first transporters, please start out as early as possible. Call the next leg as soon as you are on your way.
    Please email or call the person who organized the transport once you have completed your leg.
    Smile, have fun and THANK YOU!!!

     Things to take with you for transporting long distances:  
    Soft treats
    Water and bowls
    Paper towels (2 rolls)
    Harnesses and leashes
    Pet Clean-up spray
    Pet bath wipes
    Dry Shampoo Powder
    Old Sheets/towels
    Trash Bags
    Bitter Apple Spray
    Water bottle with H20 in it
     For Stressed Pugs
     When a pug is stressed it can make for a very long drive. We typically recommend giving the pug 20 minutes to calm down in their crate. If after the 20 minutes you try to give them some rescue remedy. Just put 2-3 drops directly into their mouth. This will typically calm them down.
    If after another 20 minutes the pug is still going crazy, you can give them one half of a benedry pill. This will make them sleepy and hopefully allow to to drive without wanting to pull your hair out.
    Rescue Remedy
    Benedryl – 50 mg (cut pill in half)
    – Only use this when a pug is in severe stress, or is intervening with your driving. We typically recommend 20 mins to allow a pug to calm down in a crate. If the pug is still barking, or freaking out, give them one half of a Benedryl.

    Of course, not all of these things will pertain to every group, but hopefully some of the basics will help other groups. This list was complied from our own experience, as well as other info we found through other rescue groups websites.

    Thanks again for sharing the above websites!

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