Pup My Ride: 5,000 Lives Saved (and Counting), Part II


Reaching the staggering number of 5,000 dogs rescued is a huge success, but the people who do the transports will tell you that every life saved is a success in itself. We all have our favorite stories — dogs who stood out as individuals from the masses, the dogs whose faces and names we remember even hundreds of dogs later.

For Robin, it’s the moms and puppies. She remembers, "Earlier this year, I was contacted about a hound mix named Sweetie who was at the Castaic shelter. She had 12 newborn pups, and all of them — mom and pups — were going to be put down. That happens all the time. In Sweetie’s case, I was able to get them transported to the Baldwin Park shelter because Lance (the shelter manager) said yes. He’ll do just about anything for us and we’ll do just about anything for him. We have an amazing relationship. I knew we had a group that would take moms and puppies of any kind, and so Sweetie and her pups were transported to Help for Homeless Pets in Montana. They went into a foster home right away and now that they’re old enough, all but two of her puppies are in homes and Sweetie has a potential adopter." It was a happy ending for a whole family of dogs whose lives almost ended the day they were dropped off together at the shelter.

And sometimes, the dogs we remember are the ones who mean something to us in the big picture. Nikki says, "A favorite story of mine is the litter of silky terrier puppies that were supposedly blind that the breeders didn’t want because they couldn’t sell them to the broker and then to the pet store. That’s something that the general public doesn’t realize — that when they go to a pet store, that for every puppy in the window there are more that didn’t make the cut. Those silky terriers had been cast aside as damaged goods, and they were these gorgeous little puppies. We brought them back to the Sanctuary, and it turned out they weren’t blind at all; they were perfectly healthy."

Special Thanks to …

There are literally hundreds of people who make Pup My Ride possible — from the shelters willing to go the extra mile, to the people who help fund it, to the volunteers who do the heavy lifting, to the shelters and rescue groups who take in the dogs. For example, the Los Angeles portion of Pup My Ride has been especially popular, and maybe only possible because of, that certain breed of folks so often found in the area: celebrities.

Robin is grateful for what all that attention has done to help the dogs who need the L.A. Pup My Ride. She says, "A couple years ago when the transports were new and struggling for funding, some volunteers created a chip-in account to raise money, and Nancy Heigl saw it. Right away, she came to the Baldwin Park shelter and brought Katherine [Heigl]. She gave the shelter a check that day and agreed to fund Pup My Ride for 2009, and it all just took off from there. It’s my favorite story because it allowed the program to continue. It brought more interest and validation to the program, and now we have more help and more visibility to the public. All that means we can save more dogs. It opened up doors to everything."

But let’s be clear — you don’t have to be famous or well-to-do enough to fund an entire transport to make a difference. We need help of all types. Elizabeth says, "Our volunteers are amazing. Some of these folks use their vacation time to fly in from around the country at their own expense to help with Pup My Ride simply because they love the program and want to help these dogs get out of mills and into forever homes. Their dedication is truly inspiring. We are so grateful for each and every one of our volunteers because this program would not be possible without them."

Arianna Pittman, puppy mill initiatives coordinator, especially appreciates the organizations willing to take in dogs from the transports. She says, "I have met so many wonderful, compassionate and dedicated people. These puppy mill dogs are not only in need of a good grooming and love, but also dental work, spaying/neutering and sometimes costly surgical procedures. Some dogs are so emotionally damaged that they require months of rehabilitation before they are ready for adoption. Despite all this, the groups take in as many dogs as they can handle, often wishing they could take in more. A woman from one of the groups we work with once said, ‘These dogs are like little diamonds just waiting to be polished.’ It’s so true. They take in these scared, broken dogs and work hard to help them become happy dogs that are wagging their tails and rolling over for tummy rubs. Whether they take in one dog or 20, each group is a key component in our work to help give puppy mill dogs a second chance."

What’s Next?

While Best Friends continues to work tirelessly towards a time of No More Homeless Pets, Pup My Ride will keep on truckin’. We all have ideas about how to make the program bigger and better. Robin says, "I wish we could get a plane." I wish we didn’t have to do Pup My Ride at all. It’s a sentiment echoed by Elizabeth, who adds, "I'm hopeful that the increased awareness about puppy mills, the fact that more and more legislation is being introduced to regulate commercial breeding, and people's decision to adopt rather than buy is moving us toward a time when puppy mills won't have a market to sell their ‘product’ and all dogs will be able to live normal, happy lives."

That will be a dream come true when it happens someday. In the meantime, though, we’ll keep working to end animal overpopulation and stop puppy mills, and we’ll keep diving those miles between the places where animals are in danger to where they’ll be safe and loved for the rest of their lives.

Click here for Part I of Pup My Ride: 5,000 Lives Saved (and Counting)

How you can help!

  • Click here to make a donation and help realize a time of No More Homeless Pets.
  • Join the puppy mill initiatives group on the Best Friends Network. You'll find recent success stories, calls to action and resources.
  • Join the Best Friends Legislative Action Center and take action for animals! Get legislative alerts with easy-to-follow instructions on how to lend your support on issues that matter to you.