A River Of Dogs

In April I posted The Faces of Rescue, an article by Dogster member David Burnette. He is actively involved in dog rescue and was kind...

Horst Hoefinger  |  Jul 7th 2009


In April I posted The Faces of Rescue, an article by Dogster member David Burnette. He is actively involved in dog rescue and was kind enough to share how he got involved. Having only been on the adoption side I had no idea what was involved in dog rescue and David’s story was an eye-opening behind the scenes look at what it takes to save just one dog.

David is back with a new article about the underground world of dog transport. It is because of him that Lisa and I had our first venture into transport last week. His stories of transport inspired us to become involved and not just sit on the sidelines. Canine Hope Rescue who I recently did an article on contacted us to see if we could help out with Beacon, an 8-year-old doberman that needed to get back to their rescue. We picked him up and then drove him a few hours away so he could be handed over to the next person and begin the final leg of his journey. I now know why David is hooked, it’s a feeling that’s hard to put into words but we know we’ll be doing this again.

A River of Dogs:

Richmond, Virginia often bills itself as the, “River City”. Located on the fall line of the historic James, the river and city have long had a close relationship. Once a colonial water highway, the early James saw the likes of Captain John Smith, Pocahontas and George Washington. Today, the James is a popular recreational spot for city area residents. The James River Park system allows one to totally forget the bustle of city life while hiking rugged river trails, fishing, or floating the urban white water. Your eye might follow the flight of a bald eagle only to be captured by the view of a city skyscraper rising just beyond the tree tops. Many residents enjoy this amazing mixture of the wild, and the urban, living next to each other.

Another river flows through Richmond, one few know of, but one just as amazing. Unlike the James, this other stream is not of water, but is a stream of rescued dogs, and a few lucky cats. In Richmond, these two rivers intersect where Interstate I-95 bridges over the James. Below, the river of water heads east toward the Chesapeake Bay, above, a river of dogs flows north.

Like the James, the river of dogs has its headwaters far away. From rural animal rescues in the Carolinas and beyond, every weekend they come. Sometimes just one or two animals might be transported. Other groups might combine into numbers of 50 or more animals saved from almost certain death in rural shelters. Almost all are heading north for a new life. Those on the I-85 and I-95 corridors pass through Richmond on their way to safety.

Saturday is Transport Day for Richmond and points south. All streams and rivers need their precursor rain storms. The water must come from somewhere before it gets to the river… So too, does the river of dogs has it precursors.

During the week before, many hours have been spent at the rural shelters by rescue group volunteers. They work long and hard pulling their part of the Transport together: Pictures and videos have been posted to web sites of the shelter dogs in need of rescue, in hopes of saving the lucky few. Phone calls and emails come in with questions about available dogs, and they must be quickly answered. The deadlines in this business are for REAL, and no time can be wasted! Those selected for Transport must be vet checked and neutered in time to make the run. Each dog is issued a health certificate so it can legally cross state lines. Puppies too young to have the full set of inoculations must have an assigned crate to journey in. They must stay in it, or at least be kept off the ground for the entire Transport.

The article is rather long so you can read it in its entirety on David’s dog Manny’s page. A big thanks to David for sharing his experience in transport and hopefully inspiring others to get involved.

* Babydog’s mom is involved in transport, two big paws up for her.