Community: Drive (Testimonial of a Transport Driver)
by Brian McMahan
At this point in my life, I am unable to have pets that require constant attention. The sad reality is that my family is rarely at home. That doesn’t mean that we don’t love pets and that we don’t try to find ways to be impactful in our community. One way that I have found to offer some assistance to ARF is to volunteer as a driver for the transport trips. It is a great way to positively impact the lives of numerous dogs (and people), all at one time.
The transport starts with the loading of the van in the twilight hours of departure day. The van is parked with all its doors standing wide open as a welcome sign to the pets that will make the journey to their forever home. One by one the foster families arrive with the pets and they are loaded into crates that have been labeled to identify the occupant. There is a sense of anxiousness and anticipation on the faces of both the volunteers and the pets. One more pat on the head, a few tears shed, and up into the van they go in orderly manner that has been perfectly laid out. Each time I have observed this ritual unfold; I am reminded of how awesome these volunteers are.
The van pulls out of the parking lot and Jackson County is quickly far behind us. The further we travel the longer the night seems to get. It feels as though you are driving a large refrigerator with the air conditioning on high to keep our furry friends cool and calm. As the miles quickly roll away on the odometer, the night is full of conversation between transport drivers, stops for coffee, gas, and snacks, and the occasional lone howler in the back. All of us are eager to see morning.
We arrive in Florida in the pre-dawn hours at the Pinellas County Animal Shelter. We are greeted by a group of individuals excited to meet their new friends. The crates are unloaded one by one, some dogs pop out quickly, others seem content to stay inside. They all find loving arms to guide them to their new temporary housing. There is lots of tail wagging and words of encouragement. It feels like a welcome-home event. The crates are cleaned, neatly stacked into the van, and after a quick bathroom break and a thank you and good bye to our Florida friends, we are off again.
The trip home is full of thoughts about what just happened. Over two dozen dogs were just given a chance to find the perfect home where they will fulfill their destiny of being mankind’s best friend. We stop for a hot breakfast and enjoy a few moments in the warm Florida sunshine. The mountains are calling and we head off towards home with a great sense of satisfaction.