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A Life-Saving Journey

June has already brought in over 70 new furry faces to Paws Crossed ...

and we are only half way through the month!!!

We have had 2 large transports of puppies and dogs ... not to mention a huge influx of kittens and cats, as we are in the midst of Kitten Season. This blog is about one of these transports earlier this month (my first one!) where we brought 28 (plus) dogs and puppies to Paws Crossed.. and quite the journey it was to get them here!

For months now, I have been saying to our Dog Manager/Behaviorist, Scott, that I wanted to do a transport pick-up with him one of these days. We work with a number of wonderful groups from all over … people who transport orphaned pets from high-kill shelters. People who step in and give animals a second chance at life. As many of you know, the South is notorious for a high rate of euthanasia; because of an unimaginable low rate of spay and neuter. A wonderful organization, called ‘Animal Aid USA’, are a remarkable team that rescue animals from a certain death in Georgia and bring them up to the New Jersey and New York area for a new lease on life.

So … Scott finally told me to stop talking about it because there was one on June 4th that I could ride with him on. It was also my turn to write a blog (something that we are trying to do more of at Paws Crossed; giving staff and volunteers a chance to tell a “rescue story” of their choice, from their perspective, in their own voice). This adventure, of course, would entail me taking lots of pictures and asking a lot of questions…. Scott was having seconds thoughts!

So begins the timeline!

Sunday June 4th 6:15AM… 6…15… AM… like morning!!! I meet Scott at Paws Crossed. At this point he has already played the Jenga-game with the crates and his parents car … i.e. , our ride to New Jersey. His awesome family is no stranger to the world of rescue and they have been so incredibly kind and generous with their time, their home and their car. We got on the road around 630AM. Two of our truly remarkable volunteers, Tracy and Gert, were going to meet us at the location. Not only does Gert walk our dogs pretty much EVERY day, but him and Tracy have really never said “no” to a New Jersey run. Gert was driving our van and Tracy was taking their own car! We are currently working with only one ‘company van’ and still do rely a lot on the generosity of our volunteers (both time and vehicles). Is it the ideal situation? No. Would we love a bigger transport van so that we only needed one? Of course. But, if it means being able to save even more pets, do we drive in more than one car? … HECK YEAH!

8:30AM: Where are we? As we get off the main highways and start hitting the back roads, I will admit, I thought Scott was lost. I have always been a little directionally challenged, and may be leaning more towards a ‘city’ than ‘country’ girl, but I swear the GPS kept saying the same street names over and over. I am beginning to believe we were going in circles on these roller coaster, twisty and turning roads! We just passed goats, pigs, miniature horses (AWWWW!) and llamas …llamas?

8:45AM: Scott and I pull into this wonderful property in New Jersey. A gorgeous, classic farm house with a wrap around porch and loads of land. I look around and we are the only car in this huge horse corral / waiting area. Right on cue, Tracy and Gert pull in. And then… the flood gates opened! Within the next 5-10 minutes a non-stop stream of cars and vans arrive and out jump scores of people with leashes, towels ... people holding signs up welcoming their new furries to their forever homes. There is a buzz of anticipation and excitement in the air!

9:00AM: Sensing the nearing of the ‘Main Event’, I head to the restroom and as I walked back through the house, a grandfather clock majestically starts to strike 9am. As I open the screen door onto the porch, the entire front yard of people are applauding, cheering and whooping it up! I then see the caravan of trucks and vans, carrying all of our precious cargo, pulling in!!!! The doors open and, as Scott described it, ‘the ordered chaos' begins.

9:15AM - 10:45AM: The time is flying! After gathering our paperwork from Animal Aid on each of the pets we were there to collect, it was time to start introducing the crowd to their new furry faces. I am completely stunned and in awe! The Animal Aid folk keep disappearing into each of the vans and are coming out holding up a dog, one after the other, shouting out the name of a rescue or a family. There are 4 transport vehicles here … with over 330 animals….and yet ‘the ordered chaos’ works! Rescues are listening for their own names, but also assisting their neighbors … Volunteers are on stand-by for extra hands … Everyone was helping each other!

Once the vans are empty and each pet was claimed and on a way to a new life, I just have to have a quick look inside these vans and see their set-up. WOW! They are designed specifically for transport and are a DREAM COME TRUE … one day ... ONE DAY!!!

11am - And we're off! Next stop ….Paws Crossed!

12:45pm - So close yet so far! It was a great trip and smooth sailing… until that last stretch on 287. One little guy, Hog, in the crate directly behind Scott's seat keeps staring out at me. His eyes and his nose are lined up perfectly, and adorably, with the little windows in the crate. I reached in to give him a little pet and to assure him that yes, the traffic is always this horrible… welcome to NY… but we are almost home. There has not been one complaint throughout the entire trip but we know everyone had to be hungry and exhausted.

1:15PM: HOME!!! As Scott and I pull into our parking lot, we see Gert, Tracy and staff are already unloading the newest, ‘temporary’ residents of Paws Crossed! One is seriously sweeter than the next! However… I will say, one precious little girl named Betty Sue captured all of our attention and hearts even before we had the pleasure to meet her. About a week before the transport was schedule to depart, Animal Aid sent out a cry for help. A dog was found wandering down by a river…. heavily pregnant and very much in need of a foster! Scott sent out the email to the Paws Crossed Squad. Could we take her? Did we have the room? How could we say no? We had 27 pups coming our way … what was one more? Well, one more PLUS! Immediately our wonderful volunteer, Shawna, stepped up to the plate and said she would foster this beautiful girl. She didn’t have to tell any of us twice… the unanimous and resounding YES was sent back and Betty Sue was on her way to us in New York.

When she arrived in New Jersey to meet us, the transporters thought she had already started labor! She was nervous. She was hesitant to leave her kennel. Without missing a beat, Scott scooped her up and you could immediately see her begin to relax. I am sure it was sheer exhaustion, yes, but I think she also knew she was almost home! This girl has not had an easy life… the last 24 hours had been so crazy for her and still she has the most loving, trusting personality. She can still see the best in people. Within hours, all reports from her new foster-mom, Shawna, were gushing on and on about how amazing this girl was. She had settled in so nicely and although not in labor, was definitely very close. Three days later, at 4:45am, texts started coming in that the babies were coming. 12 gorgeous, perfect little fur balls!!!

THIS…. THIS right here is why we do it! Rescue One by One (or in this case, 13!!) Until There Are None!

All I can say is - this week really was, all-around, pretty miraculous. Trust me, everyday, in one way or another, I really do know how lucky I am to be a part of rescue. Sometimes though, you can develop blinders, tunnel vision and/or insular thinking. You don’t do it intentionally, it is just that as anyone in rescue knows, each day is a challenge and there is never down time or a dull moment. It was eye opening, inspiring and rejuvenating to see, and be apart of, another portion of rescue that day. This is not an easy ‘business’. There is no way one person, nor one organization, can do this overwhelming job alone! Rescue takes a team … and to see this wonderful chain of people working in tandem, was not only emotionally rewarding, it was a reminder of just how crucial it is that we all work together. For every single person that was there to pick up, drive the 17 hour transport, loan a car, help assist on the other side … to all the rescues that took in orphaned pets, to the critical fosters that provide a calming environment to a pet in need … I say Bravo and Thank You!!!

I am truly grateful to be a part of a group of the hardest working, kind hearted, empathetic and mission minded people I have ever met. There are so many facets to rescue. I would encourage anyone and everyone with any interest in rescue to jump in and find your niche. Everyone plays a critical role…. and everyone is a needed and much appreciated resource!

Most of these dogs and puppies are available at Paws Crossed right now! Come down and meet them!

{PS: A huge THANK YOU to Steve Agliano for a number of the pictures!}

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