The Softer Side of Truck Driving: Pet Deliveryby Jana Ritter - Published: 6/18/2013
Rescue animals are always happy to find a loving home, but when it means traveling 4,500 miles for nine days across the western United States, British Columbia and the Yukon Territories to get to a family in North Pole, Alaska, it can certainly be a long haul for a little Pekinese like “Bear”. But rather than a fearful and lonely trip caged in the back of an airplane, Bear had the constant companionship of riding with David Binz, a Kelso, Wash.-based owner-operator who picked him up in Oklahoma and delivered Bear to his new home in Alaska. This is only one touching example of “Operation Roger” – a volunteer truck driver organization that was recently aired on NBC's Nightly News.
“Pets are like a gift from God,” said Binz, who volunteers for Operation Roger, a Texas-based non-profit group made up of truck drivers who take rescued animals and transport them to new homes. “There are so many good pets out there that get placed into shelters and need new homes”, he said.
Truck drivers like Binz make it possible to move pets like Bear from one part of the country to the other. To pay the freight for Bear and other pets like him, and to make his living, Binz hauls a variety of oversized items usually destined for the mines and oilfields in Alaska from manufacturers in the States. He hauls them on flatbed trailers with his T660 to barges, which are loaded at the ports in Seattle and Tacoma. The barges then travel up to Alaska pulled by tug boats. Occasionally, he delivers loads directly to Alaska via the TransCanada and Alaska highways.
Binz also volunteers to transport animals for Kindred Hearts Transport Connection, another pet rescue organization. He said he first learned about Kindred Hearts and Operation Roger during a search last year for a dog to adopt. His wife had found a German wirehair pointer named Stanley from Florida Big Dog Rescue, right before he was about to be put to sleep because the local shelter had too many dogs. Meanwhile, there was a demand for those dogs in other places around the country like Colorado and Tennessee. That's when Binz decided to become a volunteer transporter for both pet organizations.
“Shelters often find they get too many of one breed and, while there's a demand for them in another part of the country, there's no way to get them there. So, they have to put them down.”
Since joining Operation Roger and Kindred Hearts Transport Connection as a volunteer in 2012, Binz has transported 12 dogs and two cats for, accompanied by his 6-1/2-year-old brindle-colored Blue Healer mix dog, Izzy. Stanley usually stays at home with Patricia Hall, his wife.
For more information about Operation Roger Truckers Pet Transport or Kindred Hearts Transport, and to donate or become a volunteer transporter, visit the organizations' web sites at KindRedHeartsTransportConnection.org or OperationRoger.com