Volunteer Animal Transport To Foster Or Forever Homes


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Fifteen Legs," by Bonnie Silva, provides information about animal welfare and pet placement.

“Fifteen Legs” is a book by Bonnie Silva that reveals a network of human-animal bond proponents across North America.

Most of us don’t have a clue about the amazing volunteer cyber-networking that goes into transports of doomed animals toward hope.

Silva’s book contains excellent research and writing that illuminates a vital but mostly underground conduit of animal welfare and pet placement. Volunteers who work in cyberspace to coordinate routes and drivers who transport homeless animals are unsung heroes. This book salutes the volunteer drivers, including truck drivers and pilots, who transport furry passengers in their sedans, vans, SUVs, trucks and planes. When the mileage of all the legs is combined, an animal may be transported hundreds or thousands of miles. The purpose for the hundreds of e-mails that connect one shuttle after another is to give doomed, unwanted, homeless animals a second chance to survive and live in foster homes or to get to their adoptive forever homes.

Silva originally wanted to create a documentary film on volunteer animal transport, but she was declined funding. One filmmaker said, “It’s just not of sufficient social significance.” Writing the book was her second choice. But since she was committed to the project, she could embellish the book with her thoughts on topics such as, if animals have feelings, pet overpopulation, puppy mills, animal hoarders, no-kill shelters, pet relinquishment issues, and so on.

"...all that stands between
death and freedom is a ride."

Silva gives credit to technology, the Internet and generous-minded people for weaving the intricate legs together that compose animal transport. There is a tremendous amount of work and fact-checking that goes into each successful animal transport. The online animal transport community’s coordinators spend a lot of volunteer time building an amazingly intricate cyber railroad. Each transport has various legs (one to three hours of driving) that have specific destinations and timetables for meet, greet, pickup and drop off of their live cargo. Some transports have to be cancelled because of bad weather, road conditions and last minute cancellations. Drivers know which transport coordinators are apt to have all their legs double checked and monitored by cell phone follow ups. 

Silva’s interest in the back story of volunteer animal transport lead her to find that, in reality, the plight of homeless animals most often results in routine and methodical death. She did not want to conceal or gloss over the disturbing and pitiful truth of the stray unwanted animal situation in our country.

The stay on death row for millions of innocent homeless animals can be very short (sometimes as little as 72 hours). Large dogs in the southern state’s shelters are generally doomed. Thanks to volunteer transports, some animals get the chance to survive if pulled from the shelter and taken to foster homes in other states. 

If you are interested in the human-animal bond, Bonnie Silva’s “Fifteen Legs” (Riverbank Press) reveals major issues and introduces you to a fragile yet committed railway for life. Silva’s slogan for this book is, “When all that stands between death and freedom is a ride.”

Since 1977, I have been involved in rescue with the Peter Zippi Memorial Fund for Animals in Hermosa Beach, Calif. In the old days, our efforts were local. Now, animals are photographed and placed on the Internet. Our volunteer club has helped and placed more than 11,500 animals. Rescues need rides to get to specialists, spay-and-neuter clinics, adoption booths and forever homes. Our volunteers are always willing to transport critters to help them get what they need.

Nancy Hongola of Hermosa Beach adopted Moe, a 9-year-old golden retriever. Moe was eight years young, when his family took him to the pound in Cedar City, Utah. Supposedly he was not a good hunting dog ... and they had bought a new puppy. He lived in Cedar City for about six months at a rescue. The foster home sent him to Temecula, Calif., thinking he had a better chance of getting adopted in California. He was there for another six months. "I found Moe on Petfinder.com. We saw his photo and fell in love." They were so happy to find a home for a 9-year-old golden retriever. They worked with Happy Dog Rescue. Congratulations and thanks to all animal-rescue workers, animal transporters and forever households.

Miller Releases New Book

Robert M. Miller, DVM, has done it again. In his eightieth year, Dr. Miller contributes another book to the equine world, “Natural Horsemanship Explained: From Heart to Hands.” 

Miller’s newly released book is the perfect sequel to “The Revolution in Natural Horsemanship” published in 2005, both by Lyons Press in Guliford, Conn. 

Miller’s new book helps us understand equine behavior and how to modify it. He uses the horse’s natural instincts for training, signaling and communicating. With these techniques, the horse moves from a dominated animal slave to a willing companion animal. 

“This book explains human kindness to others, human cruelty to others and why human reasoning power can enable us to behave in a more civilized manner,” Miller says. “The extremes in how we treat animals mirror the extremes in how we treat each other.”--A.V.

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