As A Life to Live strives to find forever homes for all the cats and dogs in our foster program, we leave no stone unturned.
For 15 foster cats, that meant an 18-hour, 1,200-mile bus ride recently to Angel of Hope Animal Rescue in Dayton, Minnesota.
More than 50 additional dogs and cats from several shelters and rescue organizations in the greater Houston area joined our pets on the excursion, which also stopped at Ruff Start Rescue in Princeton, Minnesota.
Coordinated by Houston PetSet, the goal of the northbound journey from Harris County Animal Shelter was to offer the animals a greater chance of being adopted.
“The cats and kittens that we chose to go on transport to Minnesota were pets that have been in our program for several months. Many of the cats were saved from Baytown Animal Control in the days following Hurricane Harvey,” said Magan Gonzales, co-founder and program director of A Life to Live.
“It can be challenging to find homes for cats in our area, especially since many families are still struggling. We were grateful for the opportunity to send our cats and kittens to a rescue organization that has a high demand for them.”
Because A Life to Live does not have a facility, all of the animals we rescue are placed in foster homes until they are adopted. The transport to Minnesota freed up space in our foster homes, which gives us an opportunity to save more lives at Baytown Animal Control.
The trip was provided free by Rescue Express animal transport service. Based in Rancho Santa Fe, California, Rescue Express is an initiative of the MGM Animal Foundation.
Initially focused on transporting animals from high-kill shelters in Southern and Central California to rescue groups in the Pacific Northwest, Rescue Express has expanded to complete “freedom rides” to other areas of the country.
Since its inaugural transport in February 2015, Rescue Express has saved the lives of about 13,000 animals. It uses large-capacity school buses that have been converted to safely and humanely transport up to 200 animals per trip.
“This is the sixth time we’ve come to Houston to transport animals. Our first trip out here was the day after the Hurricane Harvey floods,” said Jason Lohs, transport supervisor for Rescue Express.
After working in the restaurant business for 15 years, Lohs has been driving buses for Rescue Express the past six months.
“I tell people that I quit the rat race to join the cat and dog race. I’m having a blast,” he said.
Prior to the trip we prepared updated medical history files for each animal, with proof of spay/neuter, vaccination and rabies shots. They received health certificates from the Harris County clinic to verify that they are in good general health.
Our cats and kittens came from four foster homes in Baytown. Shelly Hogan, transport coordinator for A Life to Live, drove all 15 of them to Harris County Animal Shelter on the day of the trip. She then handed them off one by one to the Rescue Express team, which secured them on the bus.
Houston PetSet Co-Presidents Tena Lundquist Faust and Tama Lundquist coordinated the trip. A year earlier, they had joined their father, Wayne, in planning a transport of Houston animals to organizations near their Minnesota hometown of Brainerd. However, before they could see their plan come to fruition, Wayne passed away.
The twin sisters carried out the mission in their father’s honor. They flew to Minnesota to meet the Rescue Express team and ensure all the animals arrived safe and sound.
Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator.