White Dog knows all about the amazing chain of people involved in bringing Quinn to us from Los Angeles, Nuka from Florida, and YoYoMa from northern California. These quiet heroes saved our family members from death and sent them down the road to a second chance at life and a forever home.
We are grateful for these volunteers and for the many of our Blog family involved in rescue and transport for they are making the world truly more wonderful one dog, cat, goat, or needy animal at a time. Theirs is the spirit that convinces us not to give up hope that the day will come when every four-legged will have a home, safety, regular meals...and someone to love.
It is in honor of these modern day minutemen (and women) that we dedicate this fill-your-heart story:
|(Courtesy Sean Kiel ) Sean Kiel, a 46-year-old truck driver from Oregon, is pictured with Johnny 5, the first dog he transported to safety. "He's a really cool dog," Kiel said. "I felt really, really wonderful knowing that I helped somebody else|
Grizzled Truckers Transport Rescued Animals to Safety
JUNE 12, 2012 Laura T. Coffey, msnbc.com
Sean Kiel is a no-nonsense guy with a gruff voice and a tough demeanor. A truck driver for 30 years, he describes himself as an “alpha male” who tends to keep his emotions “hidden pretty well.” But get him talking about the curly white Bichon Frise he helped rescue from a dark life in a puppy mill, and all of that changes.
“Here I am, a big ol’ tough truck driver, and I’m sitting here choking up right now,” said Kiel, 46, who just transported the grateful fluff ball to a woman in California who was eager to give the dog a good home. “She was so happy to get that dog — just absolutely happy. It was so touching to see.”
Kiel is a new recruit to an informal and ever-growing network of animal lovers who are transporting rescued dogs, cats, bunnies, ferrets and even the occasional monitor lizard or pot-bellied pig to loving homes, even if those homes are located hundreds of miles away. This unofficial Underground Railroad is powered by truckers, pilots, animal rescue groups and volunteers who provide “layover homes” to all kinds of creatures as they journey to new and happier lives.
Their work happens on their own dime and takes plenty of time, but these volunteers are determined to keep animals moving in the face of seemingly intractable problems: animal overpopulation, and downright abuse, neglect and abandonment of animals by their owners. According to the American Humane Association, about 3.7 million stray and unwanted animals are put to sleep in U.S. shelters each year.
“Shelters nationwide are filled with animals that are going to be killed,” said Sue Wiese, 68, a former truck driver from Joshua, Texas. “You just have to do something.”
‘I just love doing this’
In September 2005, Wiese founded Operation Roger, an organization 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. She got the effort started after Hurricane Katrina left an estimated 250,000 pets stranded and struggling to survive. “My heart was just breaking from all the stories about the pets,” Wiese recalled. “I was driving down the road and I was praying, ‘Lord, what can I do? I’m just a truck driver.’ And then I heard one word: Transport.”
Thanks to the abundance of animal lovers on the Internet, Wiese’s calling wasn’t all that hard to fulfill. An animal shelter or rescue organization might not be able to adopt out all its dogs and cats to homes locally — but what if nice people in other states read about those animals online and want to adopt them? Then, basically, those fortunate furry friends just need a ride.
Since 2005, Operation Roger has given nearly 600 animals a lift. 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 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. For instance, if a lost pet turns up hundreds of miles away and is identified with a microchip, that pet could get a comfy ride home in the cab of a truck.