Several years ago, while I was working at the Michigan Humane Society in Detroit, our cruelty investigation division took part in a police raid where close to a dozen alligators and caimans were confiscated. After searching long and hard for a rescue facility in state, I realized these large reptiles would have to be transported to an appropriate sanctuary in Florida. Just as I was getting ready to pack my bags and drive the 1,200-mile journey, a kind-hearted volunteer stepped up and offered to take my place. This was a godsend as I already had a full plate managing a shelter where more than 100 animals were coming in daily.
Thank goodness for dedicated volunteers who are willing to take on such roles. Now there is an informal network of animal lovers who are willing to transport rescued dogs, cats, and other critters to loving homes hundreds of miles away. One organization, Operation Roger, was founded in September 2005 by a former truck driver named Sue Wiese. Operation Roger is made up of regional and long-haul truckers who transport pets in the cabs of their trucks as they deliver freight all across the country. According to Wiese, these workers are dedicated to keeping homeless animals moving from a place where they might be overpopulated to a place where they’re needed. According to the American Humane Association, about 3.7 million stray and unwanted animals are put to sleep in United States shelters each year. Wiese stated, “Shelters nationwide are filled with animals that are going to be killed; you just have to do something.”
Since 2005, Operation Roger has given nearly 600 animals rides and a chance at a new life. The organization has detailed requirements and checks in place to make sure its drivers aren’t transporting animals to or from for-profit breeders, puppy mills, research labs, or show circuits. Instead, the emphasis is on rescued animals who need permanent homes and pets who have an opportunity to be reunited with their owners. There are many success stories. There was one story that stood out in my mind. A dog named Lucky was rescued from a shelter in Arizona where he was about to be euthanized. Lucky was transported to Texas, where he was given the opportunity to be trained as a service dog to help soldiers suffering from PTSD. Talk about a win-win situation! Operation Roger is always looking for more drivers, volunteers, and donations. For more information, visit operationroger.rescuegroups.org/
Operation Roger isn’t the only volunteer truck transport organization of its kind. Another organization called Heart’s Hope Truckers Pet Transport also transports shelter animals across the country trying to help find loving homes. Heart’s Hope has a saying: “So many things in our everyday lives are brought by trucks, but who would have ever thought that your next forever friend might arrive by truck.” Heart’s Hope is currently seeking volunteers. You don’t have to be a truck driver to help, and as a truck driver you don’t have to be able to transport a pet to help. Heart’s Hope is currently seeking truck drivers to transport as well as to assist with recruiting and fundraising. As for non-truck drivers, they are looking for people to provide layover homes, shuttle service, and assist with administrative work such as record keeping, recruiting, and fundraising. For more information, visit heartshopeonline.org
It has been said that volunteers are the backbone of America. Please think about ways you may be able to help organizations like Operation Roger or Heart’s Hope Truckers Pet Transport by volunteering your time or making a donation to help make the world a better place for animals in need!
2 Million Dogs Walk
CARE4Paws supports canine cancer research and local animals in need. On Saturday, November 3, CARE4Paws will be holding a “2 Million Dogs” walk to benefit the study of canine cancer and comparative oncology, bringing us one step closer to finding a cure for pets and people. For more information, visit care4paws.org or call (805) 968-2273. You can register for the walk online at 2milliondogs.org