GoNorth Animal Transport: Sending dogs to new homes up North
Some people dedicate themselves so completely to a cause that they give selflessness an entirely new meaning. Carmen Trammell, a long-time resident of South Knoxville, happens to be one of these people.
For the past 17 years, she has helped change the landscape for animal rescue in East Tennessee through Peaceful Kingdom, a nonprofit organization she founded in 2000 to, “. . . introduce innovative approaches to ending animal overpopulation in Knox and surrounding counties”.
Some of Carmen’s innovative approaches include Critter Magazine, a monthly publication that profiles rescue groups and adoptable animals from guinea pigs to horses and everything in between. Over the years, Peaceful Kingdom has sponsored other animal welfare efforts including a subsidized spay/neuter program, feral cat trap and release, a pet ID tag service, and an adoption center.
In 2012, GoNorth Animal Transport Collaborative became Carmen’s latest venture, moving dogs and puppies from the overcrowded shelters of several East Tennessee counties to northern shelters located mostly in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. These northern states actually have a market for adoptable dogs, and shelters are frequently under-capacity.
Carmen runs a tight ship with GoNorth. The group has a van and a dedicated driver, and everyone from volunteers to shelters follow a carefully orchestrated plan. The receiving shelters know exactly which dogs are coming, their health status, and other vital information, and the sending shelters choose dogs based on an ASPCA behavioral test to ensure that each dog has a sound temperament. Finally, all dogs are given a health certificate by a licensed veterinarian, vaccinated, dewormed and given flea and tick treatment before transport, and if spay/neuter surgery hasn’t already been performed, each animal will be altered at the receiving shelter before being adopted.
Dogs loaded and ready for the trip up North
Carmen explains that, “. . . transporting southern shelter animals to northern shelters is a lifesaving bridge to the day that pet supply and adoption demand are in balance”.
So far, 8,962 dogs have escaped euthanasia by traveling north to adoptive homes, and the number continues to grow. GoNorth transports around 25 dogs each trip, and they make an average of eight trips per month. And while education, spay/neuter programs, and continued outreach by area animal welfare organizations has helped reduce the number of animals euthanized each year, GoNorth and other transport groups have had a massive impact as well.
The average rate of euthanasia for 13 area shelters has dropped from 68% in 2005 to 25% in 2016, and thanks to people like Carmen, the outlook for coming years looks even more promising.