The first quarter of 2013 has been incredibly busy for the JDHF, with our transport program having relocated 279 dogs from high kill shelters in Los Angeles, to regions where the demand for adoptable pets exceeds the supply from shelters and rescue groups.
Demand is typically strongest for small breed dogs and our amazing staff and volunteers work directly with shelters to select friendly, outgoing animals, to fly or drive to destinations in New York, Oregon, Washington State, New Mexico and California. The pets chosen for transport are always animals that have been available to the public, but who were not adopted and would be imminently euthanized in the shelter due to lack of space without our intervention.
After the lucky dogs are selected, they undergo a thorough health inspection and receive a certificate that allows them to travel by a DVM. If they are not already sterilized, they are fixed after arriving at their destination location and spay/neuter certificates are gathered. They are then given plenty of play time at the shelter, so that they can get all of that pent-up energy out! If traveling by air, they are then brought to the airport, dressed in sweaters or coats, given water (we put ice in their dishes, so it melts throughout their trip), then head off. We only transport using planes with specific cargo areas that are directly below the pilot and whose temperature and cabin pressure are regulated. If the dogs are to be driven, they are loaded into a van and head off to their destination with appropriate stops for potty breaks and food.
Once our four-legged friends arrive at their destination, we follow up to make sure that they are in good health and are ultimately adopted. The dogs we select for transport from shelters in Los Angeles have their progress tracked to adoption and we are responsible for their health and well-being. Destination locations are closely screened by both the sending shelter and by the Heigl Foundation - not just forms and paperwork - but actual on-site visits. We review the organization adoption agreement and get references from around the animal welfare world. We want to make certain that all of the animals transported are headed to happy homes!
This process would not be possible without the tireless work of our volunteers and our participating source shelters. Airlines require long lead times and we adhere to temperature restrictions. Our team often has to arrive at the shelter at 1:00 a.m. to prep dogs for an early flight out of Los Angeles to ensure that they are able to travel safely. We also have volunteers across the country who make sweaters for the dogs, donate blankets and towels and give their time to help us.
We have also assisted the spcaLA with their Air Chihuahua flights, transporting an additional 19 dogs to bring our year to date total to 298. This number only reflects the pets were have directly relocated, as Heigl Foundation grants given to animal welfare organizations have also accounted for numerous additional transports. We are on target to comfortably beat our 2012 program tally of saving 768 dogs.
When you donate to the JDHF, you are helping enable a dog to find a new home. Just $60 will subsidize a trip across the country to safe arms and a warm lap.