At their most basic level, transport programs are about moving animals from Point A to Point B, from areas of oversupply to areas where there are few, if any, similar animals available for adoption in shelters. As we address the immediate needs of animals most at risk, we should also be looking for ways to create long-term positive changes in source communities through the partnerships that are formed.
In this 2-part series, we’ll explore the first steps in developing successful, long-lasting and impactful transport relationships. First up—4 key components to look for in a source agency.
1. Source agencies must have space and/or resource constraints that reduce positive outcome options for animals
Ideal source partners have an overabundance of animals and, for whatever reasons, don't have the adopters to meet that need, but also have a desire to make more meaningful changes that will impact the animals and people in their community. These agencies are willing to look at some of the deeper issues in their community that are contributing to their homeless animal population, and explore and implement long-term solutions that are necessary to address those issues.
2. Source agencies must have professional veterinary staff or partnerships with veterinary staff to provide pre-transport assessments
A successful source partner works with professional veterinary staff to manage animal health in the shelter, both routinely and during transport planning and preparation. That could mean a veterinarian on staff, or a partnership with veterinarian(s) in the community willing to provide pre-transport assessments.
"We should be looking for ways to create long-term positive changes in source communities through the partnerships formed through transport programs."
3. Senior staff at source agencies must be committed to the program and cultivation of transfer partnerships
Transport programs are labor and resource-intensive. Several years ago I was asked for some guidance on how to convince a shelter board to start a transport program. The shelter manager wanted to be able to tell the board that it was as cost-effective to transport out as it was to euthanize; unfortunately, that’s not the case. Transport does cost more, and takes far more effort—but the results can have a significant impact on an organization, not only for the animals selected for transport, but for the animals who stay behind (with potentially more resources and options available to them), and on the community’s perception of the organization.
With some grant funding and board support to “give it a try,” they started a program, and in addition to saving more lives, they saw an incredible shift in their image in the community. They were then seen as a group willing to go the extra mile, literally and figuratively, to save animals, rather than a place that euthanizes them. As a result, they were able to start a capital campaign, open a spay/neuter clinic and raise money for a new building!
4. Source agencies must be in compliance with local, state and federal laws
When moving animals from state to state or region to region, public health and safety must be a primary concern. Transport programs are being monitored—by state veterinarians, by state and local governments, by watchdogs in the community. In order for these programs to remain a component in our life-saving toolbox, everybody needs to be doing it right. We all need to be following the state, local and federal laws and regulations and continually working to enhance the professionalism of animal transport.
Once you’ve identified your partners, get to know them—sit down and talk to them, plan a site visit. See for yourself where your animals are coming from, and invite your partners to see where their animals are going.
Have a great thing going with your transport partners? Please take a minute to give ‘em a shout-out and share what’s working for you.
ASPCA Senior Director, Animal Relocation
Kristen Limbert helps oversee the ASPCA’s relocation efforts in Los Angeles, along the East Coast and in the Midwest, and routinely works with groups across the country to increase the quality and quantity of their animal transports. She also serves on national committees focused on better defining the best practices in the field.
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