On Dec. 31, more than four dozen rescued dogs were boarded into three vans in Cleveland and transported for delivery to new families in the Northeastern United States on New Year’s Day.
Cindy Rhoda, founder and coordinator of Pooches on the Move Cooperative & Rescue Transport, said the rescue agency has grown from delivering one transport of 16 to 20 dogs a month to seven rescues taking 80 to 100 dogs a month in just five years.
“These happy hounds have been rescued from circumstances that range from new puppies needing homes or families with a few too many dogs, to being rescued from animal shelters, wandering the streets homeless and even from homes where they were neglected or abused,” said Rhoda.
“Their new parents have been carefully screened to be sure they’ll get the love and tender care they desperately need. After staying at a foster home and getting all the necessary medical care, their pictures were posted on the Internet to be viewed by families wanting a special four-legged and sometimes three-legged friend to love.”
The animals were delivered to what Rhoda calls their “forever homes” on the East Coast from Staunton, Va., to Portland, Maine. According to Rhoda, the excited barks were almost like the pooches were saying, “We’re getting families of our own!”
Of the puppies who arrived at their new homes recently, Rhoda said a puppy named Hopi stood out.
“Hopi is one of eight puppies who were rescued along with their mother from deep within the Cherokee National Forest this past summer,” said Rhoda.
“The puppies, who were about 3 weeks old, were found inside an old cooler about three miles off a path in the forest. A ranger was in the forest and saw the puppies’ mother. He thought it odd that a dog would be so deep within the national forest.”
Rhoda said the ranger followed the dog which led him to the cooler where her puppies were waiting.
“Obviously, someone had dumped the dogs in the forest,” she said. “A veterinarian estimated that the mother, who we named Cherokee, had been without food or water for a couple of days. But Hopi and her siblings were in good shape because Cherokee had continued to nurse them while waiting for help.”
While most puppies are nervous when meeting their new families, Hopi, who was delivered to her “forever home” on New Year’s Day, was reportedly excited to meet her new family.
Rhoda became involved with dog rescue in 1993 when a local rescue owner asked her if she would help groom the incoming rescue animals that were rumpled and straggly.
“Shortly thereafter, I began listing the pets for Miss Linda’s Dogs for Adoption on Petfinder and it wasn’t long before we learned about the New England dog rescue connection,” said Rhoda.
Soon a network of animal lovers developed into the rescue initiative “Pooches on the Move,” believed to be the only rescue cooperative transport agency of its kind in the area.
“By forming this cooperative it has allowed all of our pooches more website exposure in a far greater range in the northern states,” said Rhoda. “We had so many dogs going north weekly that we became USDA-licensed to transport and began taking our own dogs up to their new families weekly. I have been very blessed to come into contact with several wonderful folks that help to coordinate this effort and make the adoptions happen smoothly.”
Rhoda said rescuing such pets and providing loving homes for them is important because Tennessee does not have laws to support the necessary spay and neutering needing to control its animal population.
More than 3,000 dogs have been rescued and adopted in the past five years, according to Rhoda, who networks with Hammonds Homeward Bound Hounds of Bradley County, Dixie Pet Underground Railroad of Cleveland, Baker Bridge Rescue of Polk County and other animal rescue agencies in the Southeast.
For further information, visit www.poochesonthemove.net.