My next foster, Bippity-Bop, is making her way eastward as you read this! Yesterday, she traveled from the Rio Grande Valley to San Antonio, where she was boarded overnight and this morning was placed on an east-bound transport.
She’ll arrive in Stephens City, about a half-hour north of us on Friday evening. That’s if all goes according to plan. Anyone in rescue knows that according to plan is often simply a fantasy.
Until I became involved in rescue, I had no idea that there were hundreds of unmarked vans criss-crossing this country moving rescue dogs out of the south and then returning for more. Some are owned by private rescues and some are professional transports.
The smaller rescue operations tend to use a tag-team of private vehicles, everyone driving a portion of the drive (an hour or maybe two or three), handing off the dogs as they go. This is less expensive for a rescue as each driver donates their time and gas money, but it’s susceptible to snags as one late or lost leg of the transports affects the others. And when you’re moving a dog from say, Texas, to Connecticut, that’s a lot of pieces to coordinate.
(If you’d ever like to drive a leg of a transport to help save a life, you can volunteer through Doobert.com. They match volunteer drivers with transport operations all over the country.)
Professional transports, on small vans, refashioned buses and RVs, and even big rigs, are more efficient and generally more costly. Bippity is coming on a small professional transport, just like Dippity did.
Contrary to what so many people claim, the real problem of dogs dying in this country isn’t that there are too many dogs. It’s that they are in the wrong place and/or they are not the desirable breed/age/health conditions. Transports are one answer, but they are often the biggest financial cost in rescuing a dog.
Take our girl, Serendipity, my last foster who also came from the Rio Grande Valley.
Her vaccinations, deworming, and health certificate cost $160, she was fostered by a generous soul who donated her space/time, and the transport fee was $300 to get her from San Antonio to Virginia. So that’s $460 invested before the dog was even spayed (an expense her adopter decided to cover). And that was a bargain.
Bippity had some health issues due to neglect, visited the vet twice and was treated for Ehrlichia ($350) and then placed in foster care (thanks Silvia!). It will take two separate transports, plus a night of boarding ($450) to get her here (thanks to those of you who donated to make it possible!).
Once here, she’ll need to be spayed. So her out-the-door cost once we find an adopter will be at least $1000.
Is this the most efficient way to save a dog? Definitely not. But at this juncture in our country, it is too often the only way. Saving Bippity will require dozens of individuals, hundreds of dollars, and probably at least a month of total foster care. But the alternative would be for her to have been ‘euthanized’ in a shelter two weeks ago.
What if Bippity had landed in a well-funded shelter in the northeast? A friendly, one-year-old, 26-pound, non-pitbull type dog would be adopted in hours. There would be no transport costs. Veterinary costs would be a fraction of what the rescue had to pay a private vet because most well-funded public shelters in the northeast have a veterinarian and/or vet techs on staff or at least on contract to offer veterinary care at a reduced rate.
What we have in our country is not a dog overpopulation problem, but a marketing and distribution problem. Here is what journalist Kim Kavin said in her (excellent) book, The Dog Merchants:
“Americans want about eight million dogs a year as new pets, while only about four million dogs are entering shelters….If just half the Americans already getting a dog went the shelter route, then statistically speaking, every cage in US animal control facilities could be emptied. Right now.”
You might want to read that again.
What we have is a fixable problem. Changing mindsets about rescue and shelter dogs is one solution and the rest of the solution (imho) lies with the counties and states taking responsibility for providing their constituents with a first-class shelter, veterinary access, and the budget to pay for it.
So much has been accomplished in the last decade in terms of improving the outcomes and reducing the number of shelter dogs, but now, we seemed to have stalled, and from my place in the battle, it is clear we are beginning to lose ground, due in part to the pandemic, sub-par or nonexistent public shelters, and rescue operations running out of steam, funds, and volunteers.
Sorry. I know you came here for a foster-story, and instead, I’ve found myself back on my soapbox. Apologies. The need for rescue right now is worse than I’ve ever seen it, and it is hard to keep my heart from gravitating there every time I open my laptop or my mouth. But please give it some thought and if you’re interested in getting involved, visit our Who Will Let the Dogs Out linktree to find more information.
Until Each One Has a Home,
For information on me, my writing, and books, visit CaraWrites.com.
If you’d like regular updates of all our foster dogs past and present, plus occasional dog care/training tips, and occasional foster cat updates (!) be sure to join the Facebook group, Another Good Dog.
And if you’d like to know where all these dogs come from and how you can help solve the crisis of too many unwanted dogs in our shelters, visit WhoWillLetTheDogsOut.org and subscribe to our blog where we share stories of our travels to shelters, rescues, and dog pounds.
If you can’t get enough foster dog stories, check out my book: Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs. Or its follow up that takes you to the shelters in the south One Hundred Dogs & Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey Into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues.
I love to hear from readers and dog-hearted people! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many of the pictures on my blog are taken by photographer Nancy Slattery. If you’d like to connect with Nancy to take gorgeous pictures of your pup (or your family), contact: email@example.com.