America’s Overground Railroad

Our new pup, Blue, arrived on Saturday afternoon from North Carolina. He’d had quite a trip. He started out in a “shelter” (and I use that term loosely) with a 92-percent kill rate, then lived on a foster farm with about 20 other dogs, then rode in an RV full of adopted dogs up to the New Jersey-Pennsylvania border, where I collected him and gave him a loving home for life.

For a minute there, it looked like Blue was going to be transported to us via private plane. The Pennsylvania group where we learned of him, Lulu’s Rescue, works with Pilots N Paws, which provides volunteer pilots to move dogs out of kill shelters in the South and into loving homes in the North. When the pilots are unavailable, the dogs are instead transported via RV for a nominal fee, as in Blue’s case. Transports come up North at least once a week, and some drive back and forth nonstop.

All of this moving dogs around the country of course piqued my curiosity, so I started asking questions. It seems there is a shortage of dogs, except pit bulls, in the Northern shelters while down South, dogs of all ages and breeds are put to death at an alarming rate. I’m told that spaying and neutering is not nearly as prevalent in the South as it is in the North, so the population of strays is controlled by euthanasia. In Blue’s case, he was scheduled to be gassed to death.

I can only think to call this network of South-to-North rescuers America’s New Overground Railroad, and I’m thrilled to be an endpoint on the line. Blue is a beautiful little pup with a terrific personality, even despite the fact that he was apparently once treated for a rash with Clorox bleach that has left a few scars and bald patches on his gorgeous, brindled coat.

If you’re interested in learning more about the incredible network of volunteers who are rescuing pups like Blue from near-certain death, check out the new show “Last Chance Highway” on Animal Planet. I just learned of it after I began researching Blue’s story, and the two episodes I’ve seen always include dogs down South that are in need of good homes:

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