How Petscorts uses volunteers to fly rescue dogs to new homes

Volunteers help unite dog adopters with their new pets through the Nova Scotia-based service PNPC Animal Rescue Petscorts.

Nova Scotia-based group helps people adopt affordable dogs from elsewhere in Canada

Jeff Moser 'petscorts' puppy Reilly from Regina to Halifax. (Nichole Moser)

For potential pet owners struggling to find an affordable dog, a Nova Scotia-based service has the answer: adopt a dog from somewhere else.

PNPC Animal Rescue Petscorts unites would-be dog owners with their new pet by flying the animals across Canada, connecting animal shelters, volunteers and dogs.

"What we do is add a dog and kennel as baggage to [a volunteer's] ticket," said Vicky Baker, senior co-ordinator for Petscorts. "And then the animal can travel as baggage with you, which is a great deal better than, say, sending an animal by cargo."

Nichole Moser and her husband Jeff have repeatedly volunteered to transport dogs when they travel. The couple live in Cole Harbour but frequently travel to Saskatchewan for work and to see family.

She said her husband, a cat person, was a little hesitant at first, "but he's all for it now."

Justine Moeller waits with a dog she's transporting at an airport. (Nichole Moser)

Moser said there's no need to interact with the animals if you don't want to because Petscorts take care of everything.

The shelters or rescues meet volunteers at the airports and pay for the cost of travel, which helps keep the cost of adoption low.  

The price of even mix-breed puppies in Nova Scotia can run up $800. Purebred puppies can cost up to $2,000. Part of this is due to the province's effective spay-and-neuter initiatives curbing the number of unplanned litters.  

'Every dog has their own story'

Heather Woodin, director of programs and services for the SPCA in Nova Scotia, hadn't heard of Petscort, but said such services are necessary. "They need to get dogs from areas that have an overabundance. We have lots of homes and not enough dogs to go into those homes."

In remote and northern communities, limited access to veterinary care and spay-and-neuter clinics can lead to overpopulation and stray dogs. Those are some of the dogs Petscort matches with potential owners.

Petscort also works with rescue organizations that help breeds banned in certain jurisdictions. "Every dog has their own story," said Baker.

Woodin said it's important to physically interact with a dog before adoption to know if the owner and dog are compatible, and wondered what would happen if an adoption doesn't work out.

Woodin said she is also concerned about the health of the animals.

Petscort said it needs copies of vaccinations records and — if the dog is over a year old — a negative heartworm test before they will transport it. 

Dogs from across Canada are escorted by volunteers to their new homes. (Vicky Baker/Facebook)

Baker said they transported about 22 dogs on commercial planes in 2017. They've transported 32 dogs this year. 

They also have volunteer pilots who fly animals on private planes. Baker estimates those plans have transported 200 dogs, mostly from rural communities.  

Organizing the flights with volunteers can take time and some dogs wait months before they finally get a flight to the forever home.

Baker said it's worth the wait. "Some of them are just the most wonderful dogs you'd ever want to meet, despite the fact that they are strays."

Crutch the Boston Terrier is waiting for a flight from Toronto to Vancouver to meet his new family. (Vicky Baker/Facebook)

Moser said volunteering has been a rewarding experience. She and her husband helped transport a group of puppies from a "hoarding situation" in Manitoba.

They were "already in love" from the pictures the rescue had sent. But when they actually saw and held them in their arms, "it was just happy tears all around," she said. 

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story identified Vicky Barber as the senior co-ordinator of Petscorts. Her name is Vicky Baker.
    Jul 20, 2018 7:22 PM AT

with files from Information Morning