Dog transportation

cincinnati-lab-rescue-15 is a very important part of CLR’s operations. Without volunteer transporters, we would not be able to bring in nearly as many dogs as we do today. Transporters help save the lives of dogs in kill shelters — dogs are sometimes days or even minutes from being euthanized for space in the shelter when we rescue them — and bring all our dogs one step closer to their forever home.

Cincinnati Lab Rescue is deeply grateful to all of our volunteer transporters, but we can always use more. More transporters help to share the work, and make it more likely that someone will be available when an urgent request comes through.

What are Cincinnati Lab Rescue’s transporting needs?

Almost all of our transports involve picking up one or more new dogs and bringing to our partner animal hospital. We have one regular run to La Grange, KY, almost every Saturday afternoon. In most other cases, the pickup point will be within a one-hour drive (one way), though we do occasionally have longer trips. The pickup point will either be a shelter, or an agreed upon location with another driver. Occasionally, we will have a transport for another reason (e.g. take a dog from the animal hospital to a trainer, or bring a dog to a foster home), but those are handled the same way.

How often does CLR need transporters?

Usually at least once each week, sometimes more. CLR adopts out an average of 5 dogs every week. Many of our new dogs arrive via transport.

How do I find out about transports?

Email and ask to have your name added to our email list for volunteers. The volunteer email is used for all transport requests, and also is used to send out adoption schedules, event info and other messages we want all of our volunteers to receive.

What days and times are transporters needed?

This varies considerably, depending on the location of the dogs and how they are being transported, so there are no fixed times. Transports occur almost any time during the day, though usually not late at night, and usually not on Sundays. Some organizations we work with have routine runs, currently on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday afternoons, though we don’t always have dogs on every run.

Are the pickup date/time and location in the transport flexible?

Sometimes. If the transport is from a shelter, usually any time the shelter is open in the next few days will work, unless it’s an urgent situation where that dog, or another dog, will be euthanized if not removed from the shelter that day. If the transport is a meet-up with another driver, it will depend on whether that driver has any flexibility. In some cases, the meet-up will be part of a routine, multi-dog transport (i.e., including dogs going to other rescues), in which case the place and time will be fixed. In any case, if there’s any flexibility that information will be included in the transport request.

What happens if the arrival time is outside of normal business hours for the animal hospital?

If we know in advance that this is going to occur, we will make special arrangements with the animal hospital or request for our volunteers to keep the dogs overnight (see below on keeping dogs overnight). We will make the same arrangements if we think the arrival time is going to cut it close. If a transport that was expected to have plenty of time ends up being significantly late, please contact the transport coordinator to ensure arrangements for late arrival get started immediately.

How do I sign up for a transport?

Reply via email to the transport request and let the transport coordinator know that you are interested in doing the transport. Please do not reply to all. Transports are filled on a first come, first served basis, so if you’re interested please reply right away. When you sign up for a transport, it’s important to understand that it’s a commitment. You should also make sure your time is flexible after the planned drop off, as incoming drivers sometimes get delayed due to traffic or weather.

How do I know if I was the first to reply?

The transport coordinator will reply to you to let you know you’ll be the transporter, and may request some information from you, if we don’t already have it. Note: if the transport coordinator sends another request for a transport that you’ve volunteered for, please let us know. We may have missed your email.

How do I know if the transport is still available?

Once a transport is claimed, the transport coordinator will send out an update with “COVERED” added to the subject line, and a note saying the transport has been covered.

What information do I need to provide?

You will need to provide your email and cell phone number, so you can be contacted during the transport, as well as the make, model, color, and license plate number of your car to help the incoming driver recognize you.

What information will I have for the transport?

If you are meeting another driver, you will get their email, phone, and car information. You may also be added to an email called a “run sheet” that the other transport coordinators use to manage multi-leg, multi-dog transports. If you are going to a shelter, you will receive the address and hours of the shelter, as well as identifying information for the dog you’re picking up. If the drop off is after hours, you’ll receive a name and contact number for the person you will meet at the drop off. In additional, you’re receive a list of emergency contact numbers for CLR.

What do I do if I can’t sign up for a particular transport?

Nothing. There is no need to respond to a transport request to say that you are not available, and there is definitely no need to explain why.

What do I do if I can’t do a transport I signed up for?

Tell the transport coordinator immediately, so we can get out another request. Please try to avoid this if possible, especially the day of the transport or the night before. The least that will happen is a mad scramble to find another driver. Having drivers who cancel or don’t show up will also give CLR a bad reputation with shelters, transport organizations, and other rescues. At worst, if the dog misses the transport and has to stay at shelter, this may cause that dog or another dog to be euthanized if there is not enough space.

What do I need to bring to the transport?

You must bring at least a prong collar and leash. CLR requires double-leashing, so you will also want to bring a slip lead. If you don’t have one, CLR has extras available for our drivers to keep. If it’s a long transport, you may want to bring water and a water bowl. Treats can be helpful as well. To help keep your vehicle clean, you may also want to bring a sheet to put down on the seats or a transport crate. CLR does have some equipment available to loan to transporters, however, getting that to you may require some advanced planning. Also see No Paws On Ground below for additional supplies for transporting young puppies.

What does No Paws On the Ground (NPOG) mean?

Young puppies will be designated for NPOG if they haven’t had all of their puppy vaccines yet. This is intended to protect them from germs, and it literally means you don’t allow the pup’s paws to touch the ground. If you use a crate, it needs to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected ahead of time. In some cases, the puppies may come in a crate intended to stay with them for the entire transport. You can also use a clean sheet to line your car. Puppies can be allowed to walk around outside only on a clean sheet or tarp. You’ll also need to bring hand sanitizer or wipes to use on your hands before and after handling the pups.

What do I do at the pickup?

If it’s a meet-up, find the other driver using their car information and cell phone. The first thing to do is check to see if there is any paperwork (vet records, etc.) traveling with the dog. If there are papers traveling with the dog, it’s very important to get them — they often contain medical records, which can help save CLR money on vetting costs after the dog arrives, and other important information about the dog’s history. Papers aren’t always available, but if they are make sure you put them in your car before you take the dog, so you don’t forget to take them. Then transfer the dog to your car, stopping for a quick potty break and maybe a drink in between. It’s important to use a slip lead or prong collar (our double-leash with both). Dogs are often scared during transport, and can easily slip out of a regular collar. Don’t get over-confident and let your guard down while transferring the dog. Make sure to tether or crate the dog once it your car — the last thing you need is a great big lab in your lap while you’re trying to drive on the interstate.

If it’s a shelter pickup, ask for the dog, and any paperwork. You may need to sign something. You should not need to pay. Any payment should have been arranged by CLR before the pickup.

What do I do if the dog is arriving by plane?

It’s really not much different that a meet-up on the ground. You go to the location (in this case, an airport) at the appointed time and pick the dog up. When our dogs arrive by plane, it is typically to one of the small local airports, and through and organization called Pilots ‘N Paws. In addition to contact info, you may also get the tail number of the plane, which will let you track the flight on

What do I do at the dropoff?

Bring the dog and any associated paperwork in to the animal hospital and go to the front desk. They should be expecting the dog. If it’s Saturday morning or early afternoon and CLR is on site doing adoptions, check with someone from CLR see if we want to get picture before you drop the dog off with the vet. After you drop off the dog, please email the transport coordinator to let CLR know the transport is complete. We do not get notified of new arrivals by the animal hospital, so this is the only way for us to know that you and the dog are safely arrived.

How many dogs will I be transporting at one time?

Typically no more than two, unless it’s a litter of puppies. Sometimes transport requests will go out for more dogs, but those will include a request for multiple drivers. If you are transporting two dogs who don’t know each other, it will be important to keep them separated. The stress of transport can cause even the sweetest dogs to react badly to each other. You can keep them separated by tethering them far apart in your car, or putting at least one in a transport crate. Having a second human with you can also help.

What do I do if I run into a problem?

You will be provided a list of emergency contact numbers for the transport. If you run into any problems, call everyone on the list until you reach someone.

Will I be required to keep the dog overnight?

As a transporter, you will never be required to keep a dog overnight. Sometimes we do ask for volunteers to keep dogs overnight, but that will be a specific request added to that transport. If you volunteer for the transport you can also volunteer to be an overnight host as well, but that is your choice, not an expectation. If you’re not hosting, you would either bring the dog to the host’s house, or a mutually agreed on location.

What information should I provide about the dog?

If you note any medical issues at all, be sure to inform the animal hospital (or overnight host), and the transport coordinator. Also please email the transport coordinator to tell us the transport is complete, and give us any observations you can about the dog (disposition, etc.). We use that information to help create the dog postings on the CLR website. Any pictures you can provide from your transport are also welcome, though please don’t take pictures while driving!

Can I name the dog?

No. The dog’s name (or in some cases new name) will already be loaded in CLR’s database as well as the animal hospital’s system. It can create a lot of confusion if the dog comes in with a name no one is expecting. If you would like to suggest a new name for the dog, let the transport coordinator know.

Can I adopt/foster the dog instead of dropping him/her off?

No. All incoming dogs need to be checked by our vet, and it’s actually illegal to keep a dog that’s part of a rescue transport. If you’re interested in adopting/fostering, drop the dog off as planned and let the transport coordinator know you are interested. If you don’t have a current adoption/foster application with CLR, complete one right away.