WHAT IS "DOG TRANSPORT"?
Updated: Oct 2, 2020
Since it’s the time of year for giving, I wanted to dedicate a post to one of my favorite charitable groups.
When I first moved to North Carolina, I had two years of humane society volunteer work under my belt. Anxious to fill that dog-shaped hole in my heart, I got to work contacting a half dozen shelters and rescue groups in town about helping out. To my surprise, the common response I got was either radio silence or “we have plenty of volunteers right now, thanks.” While this is undoubtedly a good problem to have, I couldn’t help but feel deflated. I wanted to lend a hand (and log some restorative dog cuddling) but couldn’t find a group in need. That was until a coworker told me about an organization she worked with called M.A.M.A.S.
The charming acronym stands for Mary Ann Morris Animal Society. It’s both a 501(c)(3) nonprofit rescue/shelter and a highly dedicated network of folks who take part in “M.A.M.A.S. on the Move” dog transport service (more on this below). M.A.M.A.S. was formed in 2001 by a group of concerned locals in Bamberg County, SC. With a large stray problem in Bamberg, they knew something had to be done to mitigate the overpopulation and general neglect in the area. Since then, the modest shelter has grown in size with help from volunteers and grant money. They’re now a no-kill shelter that provides surgeries, medications, training classes, and more. They lead local rescue efforts, foster programs, adoption, and—the arm that I’m involved in—dog transport.
So, what is “dog transport”?
What M.A.M.A.S. affectionately calls their “underground dog railroad,” dog transportation is a means of guaranteeing that dogs in need are placed in their “forever homes.” Since Bamberg has a disproportionate amount of strays for the size of the community, M.A.M.A.S. organized a web of volunteers and partnering shelters to aid in giving the pups a chance at a better life. Some dogs go directly to private adopters and others to shelters where they have a higher chance of getting adopted. They organize a run every other weekend to ensure that all dogs coming into their shelter get placed as quickly as possible. The number of dogs per run ranges anywhere from 10 to 40. Every run has a total of 10 legs (each about 70 miles), starting in Bamberg and ending in Baltimore, MD with plenty of stops and overnight sleepovers.
The most incredible thing about the whole highly organized and complicated process is that it’s carried almost entirely by volunteers. Everyone brings their own crates, blankets, wet wipes, water bowls, and whatever else is needed to keep the pooches happy and comfortable during transit. The lengths at which people go for transport always amazes me. Some volunteers bought buses so they could fit as many dogs as possible, people have borrowed larger cars from friends, everyone teams up in case of a breakdown or flat tire. I once fit seven dogs in my cramped silver hatchback (to be fair, four were pint-sized puppies). With so many moving parts, I’m always impressed with how smoothly it goes. Every run, I’m humbled and grateful for the efforts of everyone involved. It’s consistently an enriching experience. And with plenty of photos shared (including the “happy endings” when pets are placed with loving families).
I’ll leave you with a little highlight reel of some of the furry passengers from the last year: