top of page

Animal Rescue Transport Driver Guide

Animal Rescue Transport Driver Guide

Do you have pets at home that were adopted from rescues? Have you ever wondered how they got to that rescue? It's possible that volunteers drove (or flew) your pet across many miles, maybe hundreds of miles, to that rescue to save your pet's life. Over-filled animal control facilities or pounds euthanize an estimated 4 million dogs and cats each year; people work together to save every life possible.

Each weekend in America, an army of volunteer rescue transport drivers deliver dogs and cats to safety in an organized relay of vehicles. Hard-working volunteer transport coordinators plan the logistics, organize the four-legged passengers, and provide support by phone continuously during the entire one- or two-day operation. Drivers sign up for relay "legs" via e-mail. They meet the previous leg drivers at an appointed time, transfer the lucky dogs and cats to their vehicles, and drive to the next relay meeting spot where the process is repeated until the destination is reached.

Why do people volunteer? It takes time and money, but it is extremely rewarding. For a short time those precious lives are in your care. It means so much to know they will soon have families and you helped save their lives. If you would like to be a part of this wonderful work, please read on.

What do you need to be a volunteer animal rescue transport driver?
  • Knowledge of dog behavior (see below)

  • Ability to keep to a schedule and work well with others

  • Reliable, safe, insured vehicle with excellent heat and/or air conditioning in all areas where animals will ride

  • Driver's License and insurance

  • Money for gas

  • E-mail access on weekends (to get updates before your leg)

  • Cell phone

  • Watch

  • Disinfected, safe, appropriately-sized crates for animals (strongly recommended)

  • GPS might be nice to have

  • Transport Driver Kit (see below)

Knowledge of animal care and behavior
  • How to correctly fit a collar to prevent escapes

  • How to safely lift small, medium, and large animals

  • How to gently, safely crate an unwilling animal

  • How to recognize signs of stress and aggression, and act appropriately (positively)

  • How to recognize signs of illness and reduce risk of transmission

Transport Driver Kit
  • Printed "run sheet" with all transport phone numbers and details

  • Crates are strongly encouraged but are not always essential

  • Freshly-cleaned bedding

  • Large clean water bowl

  • Gallon of fresh water

  • Big clean tarp (for puppy transports, so their paws don't touch the grass/ground and pick up diseases)

  • Bucket or tote for the following:

  • Poopie bags (always pick up after the animals)

  • Extra collars, leashes

  • Spray cleaner (gentle, non-toxic)

  • Towels

  • Bandanna (multi-purpose use)

  • Hand wipes (antibacterial)

  • Vet wrap

  • Sterile pads and...

  • Small bottle of hydrogen peroxide (to clean any wounds)

  • Food treats (ONLY for luring escaped animals)

Typical Transport Timeline

Typical Transport Timeline

Before a first transport for any coordinator
  • Provide information to coordinator; each coordinator may vary in requirements but they are always described in the transport emails.

  • Get the EIN number of the receiving rescue. This number might be needed for your tax return if you plan to claim your mileage.

  • Check with your insurance company to ensure your coverage will cover accident or injury of transport animals if an accident occurs. If not, talk about this with your transport coordinator.

One day before transport
  • Disinfect your crates (if using) and wipe surfaces in your vehicle to prevent germ transfer to transport animals.

  • Print the run sheet and study each animal photo and name.

  • Fill vehicle with gas.

  • Charge your phone.

  • Load all Transport Kit items in vehicle.

  • Establish your leave time: Use mapping site to estimate time in minutes to reach the pickup point and add 30 minutes.

  • Call or email the drivers on both sides of your run to ensure everyone has the same  meeting spot and time. If you find that someone is a first-timer, make note of that and do some gentle coaching when needed.

  • **NOTE** Blackjack Transport Coordinator will be monitoring run using Facebook Group Chat in Messenger. If you have Facebook, please download this app. this will be the primary source of information regarding delays, issues, etc. If someone does not have Facebook, they will need to notify the Transport Coordinator and set up other means of communication. The Transport Coordinator will pass along the information to and from the group.

day of transport before leaving
  • Monitor communication with transport coordinator to learn if the transport is running early or late, and learn about any animal issues developing.

  • Program your GPS with pickup point, if using.

At your transport pickup point
  • Call incoming drivers to let them know you have arrived, warn of any unexpected circumstances, and learn their estimated arrival times.

  • Prep your vehicle and crates for loading.

  • Put out water bowls and fill.

  • When animals are unloaded, keep them leashed and separated unless someone has knowledge that certain animals like each other. Ensure that no animals have chewed through their leashes to escape when the door first opens.

  • Watch all animals to report on issues to the transport coordinator.

  • Pick up poop from "your" dogs and any others you find.

  • Let the incoming driver put the dog into your vehicle, if you have concerns about lifting or temperament.

  • Avoid giving treats except for capturing a loose animal or loading a reluctant animal into a crate (avoid carsickness!).

  • Leave on time.

  • Call the transport coordinator to report your leaving time and condition of the animals.

At your transport dropoff point
  • Call incoming drivers to let them know you have arrived and warn of any unexpected circumstances and learn their estimated arrival times.

  • When drivers arrive, immediately transfer paperwork to a driver .

  • Remove animals from your vehicle and make sure each gets access to water and a short walk.

  • Pick up poop from "your" dogs and any others you find.

  • Watch all animals to report on issues to the transport coordinator.

  • Load your animals into waiting vehicles, because the animals know you better after riding with you (be flexible—drivers often feel comfortable loading animals into their vehicles when the opportunity presents itself).

  • Take a few photos if there is time.

  • Ensure the drivers leave on time.

  • Call the transport coordinator yourself or remind the drivers to call.

After the transport
  • Disinfect your crates and wipe surfaces in your vehicle to prevent germ transfer to your pets or to next transport animals.

  • Clean water bowls thoroughly.

  • Refill your water jug.

  • Replenish your transport driver kit as needed.

  • Email your photos to the transport distribution list.

  • Keep record of the number of miles driven, the receiving rescue EIN number, and the date, if you plan to claim your expenses on your tax return.

Transport Risks and Precautions

Transport Risks and Precautions

© 2005-2016 The Sunbear Squad
bottom of page