“I do this because…plain and simple, the need. There are so many unwanted pets that if not for transport, they would be destroyed- when all they need is moved to organizations with resources to place them. I think that without all volunteers that there just would be a lot of good animals euthanized.” Shared Beryl Benedict, an Ohio volunteer animal rescue transport driver. With only thirty true-to-their-word, No Kill shelters in the United States today, the average American animal shelter is killing upwards of 50% of the healthy pets who enter their doors…every day. With so many shelters continuing to practice traditional, needless killing methods such as the heart stick and gas chambers, the need for urgent help must come from a place other than our American animal shelters. With animal shelter leaders refusing to move forward and embrace proven No Kill methods that are cost effective and life-saving, grassroots 501c3 non-profit, all-volunteer rescue organizations are stepping up to the plate and standing up for what is right. Rescue organizations are saving lives of pets who sit hopelessly on death row in our shelters. Some pets are given several days to live, by the shelter directors watch, while others, like many cats, are given minutes to live. Approximately 4 million healthy, adoptable shelter animals are killed annually in the United States, when life saving measures exist and are being practiced in thirty open intake No Kill shelters and in grassroots rescue organizations across the United States. If shelters refuse to change, concerned citizens must step forward and be a voice for the voiceless, and that is exactly what rescue organizations and their volunteers are doing every day- and not receiving a penny for their efforts- they are doing it all for the right reasons, to save another life. To make a difference. To fight for what is right.
Many rescue organizations work directly with kill shelters, to pull some of the death row cats and dogs to safety each week. In order to make this happen, volunteer transport drivers must step forward- to drive the lucky rescued pets from the shelter, to the rescue groups—to safety. Once at the rescue group, volunteers are needed again to foster individual pets in their homes- to get to know them well, prior to placing them in a forever/adopted home- so that when the pet is adopted, the match is a great one for the pet and for the adopters. It’s a winning situation for everyone—but it takes effort from many special volunteers to make these daily miracles continue to happen. Beryl is a shining example of one volunteer transport driver and volunteer foster parent—and he is accomplishing all of this in his retirement! Beryl explained, “I guess transport was just an extension of my other volunteer work. I have done shelter work at Angels for Animals for ten years or so and after back surgery in 2010 I had to cut back on the physical work. I was asked in 2011 to join their Board of Directors, which I did….but transport sounded like another way to help, so I looked into it. “ As Beryl continued, his American Eskimo foster canine joined him, settling under the table at his feet. “She was dumped on the street with her sister. We joined the Animal Protection League of Mercer County (Celina, Ohio) and they needed foster’s- so we said yes! We have two dogs of our own, but one more will be one less killed in a shelter.”
“The transport I did for Advocates 4 Animals, The Way Home Rescue Alliance and Angels—a dog named Boo Boo. That was a 280 mile round trip. We also took a really nice 1 ½ year old border collie that was coming from a kill shelter in Indiana to a Border Collie Rescue in Maryland, we then met a driver in Columbus, Ohio and took a dog to Cambridge, Ohio to meet a driver that then took him to Wheeling, West Virginia. We had to drive over an hour just to get to Columbus. The whole trip was about five hours. She was a happy, loving energetic, beautiful dog. I don’t think most people are aware of the network out there. Every weekend (there are people) moving pets up and down the roads, all at our own expense.” Beryl pointed out, “There is a lot of information on rescue transport, from private pilots who fly dogs and cats to safety to over the road truckers that take them to rescue. The next time you see a trucker at a rest stop walking a dog, it could be a rescue transport!”
“We did a transport that involved Holly, a four-month old Chocolate Lab pup. She was in an overcrowded shelter and was in danger. A rescue in Michigan found room for her so we helped by taking her from Lima to Toledo. It would have been such a tragedy to put her to sleep because of lack of room for her.”
“We just started this year (transport driving), we had worked in other aspects of rescue from shelter work to training dogs, so this was just something more we wanted to do to help. I have a small car but I did transport four small dogs in our car…This weekend we are doing several transports and there will be nine dogs total. If we can, we transport every weekend, and since we are retired we help during the week as well.”
Instead of buying a boat upon retirement, Beryl decided he would find more ways to help save the lives of animals…and he has accomplished just what he set out to do! “There are so many people involved in this, I just don’t feel the general public has any idea.” Raising awareness about these important life-saving efforts is crucial to saving additional lives in need, who sit on death row in shelters across the country each day.
“The need for rescue is there and sometimes it’s the chance for some of these animals.” Beryl explained that some rescue groups offer gas money assistance if you are willing to volunteer your time. In addition, all 501c3 rescue organizations will provide you with a tax deductible donation receipt for the mileage you have traveled to help save the life of a death row pet in need. “Most important, if you decide to help (become a volunteer transport driver) be sure to follow through- because one missing driver on the transport can put a burden on the rest of the group.”
“I just urge everyone to do their homework before adopting a pet. It’s a friend you can have for fifteen or more years, and by all means go to your local rescue or shelter, a lot of good dogs (and cats) need a second chance!” Beryl shared that he has a ten-year old Sheltie that is a rescue dog. “The people that got rid of her when she was one year old said she barked too much. A perfect example of doing your homework before you get a pet. She is very loving and is smart.” Beryl also has a Miniature Schnauzer who was his mother-in-laws dog. “She became ill and we started taking care of her, that was five years ago and she is still here.” To add to the mix, Beryl is now fostering a five year old American Eskimo. “Someone dumped her and her sister on the streets and they were found and taken to rescue. She is shy and timid, but coming around. I don’t know how you could put them on the curb like an old chair and just drive away. She is crate trained and housebroken. I will have trouble letting her go (when she is adopted), but that’s the point of foster (to find their forever homes).”
If you are an Ohio resident and would like to participate as a frequent or occasional volunteer transport driver, to help drive death row pets to safety with No Kill 501c3 approved rescue organizations, please contact Advocates 4 Animals here: www.advocates4animals.com