Lifestyle Pets, Animal Welfare

Shelter Dog Transport Alliance Provides Crucial Service to Overcrowded Shelters

Natasha Kush, transport director, with Big Honey and her dogs

By Natasha Anderson

As someone who worked in animal rescue in the south for some time, Natasha Kush witnessed first-hand the impact transport and relocation had on small, overcrowded shelters. The practice literally made a difference between life and death for dogs, but WNC’s rural shelters didn’t have the time or resources to develop their own transport program. So in 2020, Kush approached Rusty’s Legacy executive director Jeri Arledge with the idea of creating a transport division of the Marion rescue organization.

“We both shared a vision of serving those most in need and I felt it wise to be under her guidance and expertise,” says Kush. “I don’t have an actual physical rescue, just our transport vans, so Rusty’s Legacy acts as our mothership.”

Recently adopted transport dog in Central Park, NY

Over the last three years, The Shelter Dog Transport Alliance has transported more than 6,700 animals from overcrowded facilities in North Carolina and relocated them to partner rescues throughout the northeast. Each transport takes lives that were once neglected or deemed unworthy, and delivers them to safety, dignity and loving forever homes.

According to Kush, partnering northern states and Canada are able to take in large amounts of transport animals because they committed years ago to making spay/neuter services affordable and accessible within their communities. As a result, their volume of homeless or unwanted animals is greatly reduced and they are able to absorb numbers from other areas that are experiencing overpopulation.

“Services such as low-cost spay/neuter are really struggling here due to staffing issues, so shelters and local rescues are drowning right now,” says Kush. “We try to get as many on board as possible for transport, but we sadly can’t keep up with the demand.”

Lack of foster homes is another big challenge even though placements are just one to three weeks and all supplies are provided by Shelter Dog Transport Alliance.

“We just need people to keep a dog or pup safe until the next transport departs,” says Kush. “If they happen to fall in love with that dog or pup, local adoption is an option, but if they’re not at that place, a loving family is waiting for their foster on the other end via transport.”

Though Kush plans to continue running transport until there is no longer a need, she stresses that the real solution to pet overpopulation and shelter overcrowding is providing affordable and accessible spay/neuter services. Implementing stricter animal welfare measures is another important factor.

“The cruelty, insensitivity and tragedy that we see in southern rescue is crushing,” she says. “However, the loyalty, love and gratitude that the dogs we rescue show us in return gives us exactly what we need to keep rescuing one by one until there are none.”

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