Dr. Michael Good is a veterinarian whose former job was to euthanize homeless dogs. Today he is able to rescue them by the thousands. His great big heart led him to a very big idea.
According to the ASPCA, “Each year, approximately 670 thousand dogs are euthanized”. As appalling as that sounds, the number is much lower than it used to be. Education about adopting shelter animals over buying them from breeders has really helped.
The largest percentage of dogs, are still purchased from breeders. ASPCA affirms that, 34% of dogs in the US come from dog breeders and 20% are adopted from friends or family.
Surprisingly, these figures vary dramatically from state to state. In Georgia, where Dr. Michael Good has his practice, there are substantially more shelter dogs.
“The tradition in the South is to let dogs do their thing.” Says Dr. Good, and the streets and backyards are full of the results of that philosophy. He says that, “More than 100,000 homeless pets are euthanized annually in the greater Atlanta area.”
In the Midwest and Northeast, it’s a very different story. Shelters have waiting lists full of families who are ready to adopt. When Dr. Good made that discovery, he had a brilliant idea:
Find homeless dogs from the South who would otherwise be put to sleep, and take them to where they are wanted. Supply? Meet demand!
He calls his foundation, The Underhound Railroad, a name he respectfully borrows from the famous Underground Railroad a network of secret routes and safe houses that the abolitionists used in the 19th century to transport enslaved peoples to free states.
Dr. Good’s transportation operation isn’t just as simple as tossing a dog in your car, and driving it to Maine. The foundation handles everything, from rescuing dogs from irresponsible or overwhelmed owners, to catching stray dogs on the streets and bringing them to be examined, treated and assessed. He has specialized trucks that can transport numbers of dogs safely for hundreds of miles.
In fact, The Underhound Railroad had rescued 15,000 dogs as of 2016.
Today the transportation of shelter animals is a common practice and, for the most part, that’s a good thing. There is a growing demand for the homeless dogs in State A, to be transported to State B. Fees are paid to shelters and to citizens to transport these animals. But it takes a lot of work, and a lot of precautions.
Dogs must be treated before being transported. Many of the dogs that Dr. Good treats have Heartworm or Parvo. They have injuries that aren’t always obvious. They need proper care before they are relocated.
One diseased dog can infect an entire shelter or an entire dog park, or neighborhood. It is best to be informed before adopting a shelter dog. Where did he or she come from? Has your future pet been assessed and treated?
“If a single infected puppy is placed inside a vehicle with a dozen healthy puppies and then driven eight or 12 hours in the close quarters, not only can all of those dogs be exposed, but so can the next batch of dogs who travel in the same car, and the batch after that.”
Common sense practices are important, especially when making actions and decisions that are emotionally charged. Life and death decisions.
If we strive to save one dog from euthanization, but thereby infect and, possibly, kill several more, how have we improved a dreadful situation?
This is why Dr. Michael Good and The Underhound Railroad give this assurance: “Not only do we transport these pets, we provide them with veterinary care to ensure they’re healthy, ready to travel, and join their new families once they arrive”.
This foundation takes the animals to no-kill shelters in both the Midwest and the Northeast, who find them loving homes.