The Secret World of Dog Rescue Networks We Never Knew Existed

The Secret World of Dog Rescue Networks We Never Knew Existed

This is why a lot of Northern shelters are filled with Southern pups.


By Stacy Lenz

Imagine going on a multi-state road trip with 28 dogs, driving 13 hours nonstop each way to give the passenger pups a better life. It sounds like a mix between a dream and a nightmare, and it’s something that Kelly Ivory and Jane Hurst of Howl on Wheels do up to three times a week. The pair transport pups from high-kill dog shelters in North Carolina to give them a second chance at fully, happy life by way of dog shelters in Connecticut.

This actually isn’t unusual; in fact, a lot of shelters we’ve encountered through our Real Shelter Dogs series are filled with southern dogs, brought up north for adoption. We always wondered why it was a trend. Now we know and it’s all thanks to a mobilized network of people who deeply love dogs and are doing everything in their power to provide these dogs have the best life possible.

A recent article in Topic highlights the stories that make up this rescue network of people working tirelessly for the love of dogs. It starts in parts of the rural south, where spay-neuter and leash laws don’t exist causing a population boom in stray and unwanted dogs. For years, dog advocates have pushed for these laws only to be blocked by hunters who say that this would infringe on their sport hunting. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have somewhere like Connecticut where spay-neuter laws have effectively worked to keep the canine population in check — plus more people who are actively looking to adopt a dog from shelter.

The rest is simply just supply and demand. Intrepid dog rescuers have formed a network to help these unwanted southern dogs find homes in northern states where they are wanted. If supply and demand was explained this way in high school economics, featuring the smuggling of cute dogs across state lines, we can tell you we definitely would have fallen asleep much less.

How the rescuing itself works is thanks to a bunch of passionate volunteers. For example, dog rescuers like North Carolina resident Joy Harklerode get calls from all over the state with reports of discarded dogs roaming as strays or literally thrown away. Along with a network of other volunteers, they retrieve and foster these dogs until plans for their ultimate journey to a northern shelter can be made. The dogs also receive veterinary care during this waiting period.

In this example, the dogs will be going to the Connecticut Humane Society and the previously mentioned Howl on Wheels will arrange the transport of the latest batch of stray puppers. After 13 hours in the van, where one person drives and the other sleeps/is on puppy mess duty, the dogs first get shots and a full inspection to make sure they're a-OK before they are taken into the shelter and hopefully soon adopted.

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